As trainer Robert Tiller walked across the inner turf course at Woodbine towards the winners circle on Wednesday night, he said to his entourage: “Smile, you guys. It will be another 100 years before this happens again.”
The Hall of Fame conditioner had just witnessed his seven-year-old gelding Pink Lloyd win a fifth consecutive stakes race this year at the Etobicoke track in sensational fashion. The 100 years part might be a bit of a stretch, but horses such as Pink Lloyd certainly don’t come along often.
Not only was Pink Lloyd’s win in the $100,000 OLG Kenora Stakes his fifth stakes score in a row in 2019, it was his 21st overall victory in 26 lifetime starts with earnings of more than $1.6 million.
The son of Old Forester has become a huge fan favourite at Woodbine and his commanding win in the Kenora was met with a huge cheer as he crossed the line.
“That’s 18 stakes wins and no horse has ever done that in Canada or ever been close, and he’s still as good as he’s ever been as a seven-year old,” said Tiller. “He’s an amazing animal. I gambled. I didn’t work him in between races and he just does a lot of easy miles on a training track and we just love him to death. He’s a Canadian icon.”
Carrying 127 pounds, Pink Lloyd collared stablemate Circle of Friends at the top of the stretch then took off to score by five lengths in 1:08.28. The overwhelming 1-9 favourite returned $2.30 to win. Circle of Friends settled for the runner-up role and Magical Man edged out Hold’emforransom in a photo for show.
“Once he broke from the gate reasonably good, I knew it was over because he had a ton of horse,” said Tiller. “My other horse (Circle of Friends) went to the lead and I knew he’d show more speed, and we ran 1-2 and I’m just thrilled.”
It was also a third consecutive Kenora Stakes win for the 2017 Canadian Horse of the Year and it came on Canadian Millions Stakes Night at Woodbine.
Owned by Entourage Stable and bred John Carey, Pink Lloyd has already won close to $400,000 this year with two victories coming in graded stakes races, the Grade 3 Jacques Cartier and Grade 3 Vigil. Pink Floyd won 11 straight races from April 2017 to July 2018 but hit a wall near the end of last season when he finished fifth in the Bold Venture Stakes and fourth in the Overskate Stakes.
“It looked like it was over,” said Tiller. “At the end of last year, we had some issues with his breathing and he bled one day. So we just needed to get his brain back together. He was breaking through the gate and all that nonsense. But I felt there was still something there and by the spring he was a different horse. His first few works, he showed that something was different.
“He still has these little things in between races, little muscle cramps and this and that, and sometimes he scared the hell out of us. But at the end of the day, there’s no words for him,” Tiller added. “It’s a game of details. But we’ve figured him out and he’s been absolutely unbelievable.”
Pink Lloyd’s jockey, Eurico Da Silva, Woodbine’s leading jockey the past four seasons, said before the Kenora that he just stood back and watched the millionaire gelding in the paddock for a couple of minutes before getting in the saddle.
“I’ll keep that picture in my mind all my life because he’s the greatest,” said Da Silva, who plans to retire after this season. “He’s the most consistent and greatest horse I ever rode.”
Canadian Millions Sales Stakes annually features past Canadian-bred sale graduates on the eve of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s yearling sale, to be held on Thursday in the Woodbine Sales Pavilion.
COOLER MIKE FINALLY PREVAILS
The horse that launched a thousand cold ones served up a huge win on Wednesday.
Cooler Mike, a four-year-old son of Giant Gizmo out of Executive Affair, captured the $100,000 Halton Stakes over 11/2 miles on the grass for jockey Luis Contreras — his first stakes victory in eight tries. In his previous seven stakes starts, Cooler Mike recorded two seconds, two thirds and three fourths — hitting the board in both the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes last year.
Finally, on Canadian Millions Sales Stakes Night at Woodbine, Cooler Mike broke through, taking the lead heading down the backstretch and then shaking clear of stalkers Eskiminzin and Ethical Funds with a half-mile to go. He completed the route in 2:27.77.
“He’s been knocking on the door and he did it,” said Cooler Mike’s trainer Nick Nosowenko. “I think everybody’s just so happy for him because he’s always there and just getting beat, or something goes wrong or he gets cut off. We’re just so happy for the horse this time.”
Nick Nosowenko co-owns Cooler Mike in partnership with his father Mike Nosowenko, a long-time trainer who is known to take a cooler of beers to the backstretch to share with his workers after one of his horses runs.
“I think we got three to four coolers tonight,” said Nick.
Sahin Civaci rode the two-year-old grey Rockcrest to victory in the $175,000 Simcoe Stakes for two-year-old colts and geldings. It was Civaci’s first stakes score at Woodbine … Jockey Eurico Da Silva won two stakes on the night, on Pink Lloyd in the Kenora Stakes and then aboard Blessed Truly in the Muskoka Stakes … The seven-year-old dark bay Kingsport won the final money-added race of the night, the $100,000 Elgin Stakes for trainer Sid Attard and jockey Patrick Husbands, bumping his career earnings to more than $1 million. Afterwards, Kingsport had to be taken away in an ambulance, though there was no word at press time on his condition.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019