04/24/2013 2:56PM

Woodbine notes: Banach gets off to quick start as public trainer

Michael Burns
Rootham Triple E’s will point to the Fury Stakes following a win in the Star Shoot.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – It wasn’t particularly surprising to see Bob Tiller get off to a hot start on opening the weekend, leading the standings with four winners from seven starters after two days.

But Darwin Banach, a trainer who came into the 2013 meeting well beneath the radar, also celebrated the return of Thoroughbred racing in fine style with three winners and a third-place finish from just four runners.

“They were all here all winter,” said the 46-year-old Banach, who once worked here as an assistant to Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Phil England but has been on his own since 1998 and currently has 16 horses here. “I had them up at the farm, in Orangeville, with a big indoor arena. It’s kind of good; we’re off to a good start.”

Banach also returned to training this year in a former guise, as he again is a public trainer.

“For the last six years, I was the private trainer for the Sorokolits,” said Banach, with reference to the father-and-son team of Bill and Bill Jr. “They’re cutting back on the stock a little bit, and it wasn’t worth it for them to keep a private operation.

“Now, I’m getting to spread my wings a little bit. I’m excited to have a few of my own and the opportunity to have other clients.”

Banach will still have horses for the Sorokolits and won races last weekend with Give A Prize and Northern Bluebird for Bill Sorokolit Sr.

The trainer’s other winner was his own Miss Echo During, running in the name of Darwin Banach Racing Stables.

Two horses owned by Bill Sorokolit Sr., Town Prize and Ready to Ramble, have been transferred to Mark Casse.

Town Prize won the Woodstock here last spring but then experienced several setbacks and has yet to return to action.

Moreno gets off to solid start

Omar Moreno took Woodbine by storm after moving his tack here from Alberta in fall 2009, going on to win back-to-back Sovereign Awards as outstanding apprentice rider and an Eclipse Award as North America’s top apprentice in 2010.

Moreno had ridden the winners of more than 200 races and $6.5 million through his first two campaigns here after riding sparingly and recording his first victory at Alberta’s Grande Prairie track in 2008.

But life without the “bug” took its toll as Moreno dropped from 146 wins to 64 in his first full campaign as a journeyman and rode 48 winners last year.

“Last year was a little quieter than I wanted to be,” acknowledged Moreno. “Win percentage-wise I was about the same, but I rode less races.”

Moreno got off to an encouraging start at the 2013 meeting, however, winning a restricted maiden race with Born to Be Queen for Bob Tiller on opening day and finishing in the top four with six of his other eight mounts.

Those races included both of the weekend stakes as Moreno ended third aboard Fun in D’ Sun for longtime supporter Laurie Silvera in Saturday’s Star Shoot and fourth for Tiller with Bar Magic in Sunday’s Woodstock.

“I think it will be a good year,” said the 28-year-old Moreno, who lives in nearby Cambridge with his wife, Beth, the former rider whose maiden name was Wyatt, and their 2-year-old son, Austin.

Moreno also has a new agent this year, in veteran Lorne Spearman.

“The race meet has been shortened, and it’s tough for a everybody to be positive,” Moreno said. “But Lorne and I working together gives me good vibes.

“I think we see eye-to-eye and understand each other, how we want to conduct our business. I let him do his thing.”

Rootham Triple E’s targets Fury

The name Rootham Triple E’s pays tribute to the three children of her co-owner Tom Rootham, whose names all begin with that letter.

But, Rootham Triple E’s earned an “A” here on opening day by becoming a stakes winner in the $168,000 Star Shoot for 3-year-old fillies.

“She was up at Pine Valley and has been going since early January,” said Sam Di Pasquale, who trains Rootham Triple E’s for Rootham, Gordon Stock and Murray Stroud.

“Since we nominated her, this had been the plan. We were seeing how tough it was going to come up. It was a very tough winter here, with the weather, to get horses ready.”

Rootham Triple E’s was half-past ready as she forsook her usual front-running style and stalked the pace en route to a half-length score under Justin Stein.

“Me and Justin had discussed it,” Di Pasquale said. “We thought if somebody was winging it out there she would settle and make a run at them.”

Rootham Triple E’s, who is Ontario-sired but was competing in open company in the Star Shoot, is nominated to the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies here May 4.

The Fury is one of the local stepping-stones to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, the 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies that will be run June 9.

“If she runs well in the Fury and gallops out well who knows, our next move could be to go to the Oaks,” Di Pasquale said. “Or we could take the safer route and go to the Lady Angela,” a seven-furlong stakes race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies here May 25.

“It’s all dreams in this game.”

Dan the Tin Man staying in sprints

Dan the Tin Man was racing with an important change of equipment when he became a stakes winner in last Saturday’s $154,200 Woodstock. It was his first race as a gelding.

“He’s a big, robust horse,” said Ricky Griffith, who trains Dan the Tin Man for the Debmar Stable of Glenn Harvey and Steve Duffield. “It lightened him up a bit, and it didn’t hurt his value, because he’s not a stallion prospect.”

Dan the Tin Min was gelded in Ocala, where Griffith had some 50 horses at Classic Mile.

“I saw improvement in him, physically and in his training, over the winter,” Griffith said. “He was dead fit, and the race wasn’t overly tough; most of them were nonwinners other than.”

Dan the Tin Man, bred in Florida, led throughout the six-furlong Woodstock to score by a half-length, but Griffith now will have to look afield for a proper stakes spot.

“I think sprinting’s pretty much going to be his game,” Griffith said. “He might get 6 1/2 or seven furlongs.”

Griffith mentioned the $100,000 Tom Ridge Stakes, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Presque Isle Downs on May 13, as a possible spot for Dan the Tin Man.