July 13, 2011
Oh Canada jockey looking to make Canadian history
By Brad Peters, QMI AGENCY
The only way the 76th running of the Prince of Wales Stakes could be more Canadian would be to move the race date to Canada Day.
The horse with the No. 1 post position? A three-year-old gelding named Oh Canada.
The jockey? Krista Carignan, a Canadian woman who knows a thing or two about winning at the border oval. She was the leading jockey at Fort Erie Race Track last season.
Let's not forget the post position guest drawmaster. New York Rangers defenceman Daniel Girardi, a Welland, Ont., native, made the picks for Sunday's race.
Of course, you can't talk about the Canadian nature of this race without mentioning that it is the second jewel in Canada's Triple Crown of horse racing.
If Carignan and Oh Canada manage to win the the $500,000 stakes race, there will be a little extra icing on the patriotic cake. If she steers the gelding to the finish line first, Carignan will be the first woman to win the Prince of Wales.
"I'm really excited to ride in a Triple Crown race," said Carignan, adding that a home-track race makes it extra special. "It means a lot, knowing that all the people that matter to you are right close by.
"I'm thrilled to be riding Oh Canada. I was actually pulling for him to win the Queen's Plate."
Carignan said winning the No. 1 post position is an important factor in the race. Even so, the horse goes off at 12-1 odds.
"Every little edge helps. It's the shortest way around the track, so we've got to take advantage of that."
Held in the Prince of Wales room at the Fort Erie track, the post position draw attracted a sizable crowd of interested racing fans and horse people. After track announcer Mike Dimoff and Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium CEO Jim Thibert gave a history of the event and an update on the progress of the consortium's success in keeping live racing vibrant in the community, Girardi got to work, picking the horses' post positions.
Girardi said it was family connections that secured him the drawmaster title for the day.
"It was my brother-in-law's cousin who made the connection to get me here. I know that originally they were looking for (Boston Bruins forward) Dan Paille to be here, obviously, he's a Stanley Cup champion and I'm not offended by that at all,"Girardi said. "It's really special to be a part of this.
"I don't really know a lot about horses, but I'm here today learning some things and I'll be here on Sunday cheering on Check Your Soul."
Before the draw began, Girardi said he received a tip about Check Your Soul, and he went on record with the dark bay colt as his choice.
After the morning line was released, putting the horse at 7-2, he wasn't quite as confident in his prediction. Check Your Soul drew the No. 7 post position.
"I'll be doing some reading and research before the race Sunday," he said.
Early 2-1 favourite Hippolytus, with Tyler Pizarro aboard, drew the No. 3 post.
The entire field for the race with post position, horse, jockey, trainer and odds is: 1. Oh Canada, Krista Carignan, Robert Tiller, 12-1; 2. Pender Harbour, Contreras, De Paulo, 3-1; 3. Hippolytus, Tyler Pizarro, Mark Casse, 2-1; 4. Welloiledmachine, Jim McAleney, Mike Keogh, 15-1; 5. Oban, Emile Ramsammy, Mike Keogh, 12-1; 6. Bowman's Causeway, Eurico Rosa Da Silva, Chad Brown, 4-1; 7. Check Your Soul, Patrick Husbands, Roger Attfield, 7-2.