Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes Sunday part of Big Woodbine Weekend

Woodbine's Thoroughbred season may be winding down but there are three major stakes races on this weekend and Sovereign Award implications are involved.

Thumbnail for Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes Sunday part of Big Woodbine Weekend

AMALFI COAST has improved greatly this season for Terra Racing's Romeo family and trainer Kevin Attard - Michael Burns photo

By: Jennifer Morrison |


Saturday’s Coronation Futurity has one of the top male juveniles this year in MUSKOKA GOLD, owned by Conrad Farms, and a win by this son of first year sire LEA, would clinch that trophy. Also Saturday, the Grade 2 Kennedy Road, a sprint stake, marks the return from a short vacation of PINK LLOYD, who has Champion Sprinter wrapped up (for the third straight year) but he could contend for Horse of the Year with a win in the tough event.

Sunday, a large field of fillies and mares compete at 7 furlongs in the Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes on the Tapeta. The race is a fascinating betting puzzle but also could mean at least a nomination for Champion Three-Old Filly for Terra Racing’s AMALFI COAST should she win.

The 3-year-old daughter of Tapizar, goes after her third straight stakes score when she goes postward in the $175,000 Bessarabian, at Woodbine. Trained by Kevin Attard, the chestnut has been at the top of her game in her first two stakes engagements.

On September 22, in what was her sixth career start and first added-money appearance, Amalfi Coast coasted to a 2 ½-length victory in the one-mile Ontario Damsel (turf) Stakes. Just under a month later, the filly was back in the winner’s circle, this time in the 1 1/8-mile Carotene Stakes, also contested over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

Amalfi Coast’s first five efforts came on the Woodbine Tapeta, yielding one win, two seconds, a third, and a fourth. Her maiden-breaking victory – in her fourth start – was a 4 ¾-length romp at seven panels on August 2.

“She’s definitely been very versatile,” praised Attard. “We’re asking her to cut back from a mile and an eighth to seven furlongs … it’s going to be a little bit challenging. She’s at home, and she’ll be facing older horses for the first time, and that’s another little hurdle there as well. But we’re at home, and it’s a lot easier to go from your stall to the front side than it is to put her on a van for 10 hours.”

Kevin has 56 wins this year, just two shy of his career best number of wins and he is already having a career year with purse earnings at $2.8 million.

“She’s been training well,” offered Attard of the filly that brings a 3-2-1 mark from seven starts into the Bessarabian. “She hasn’t skipped a beat and she seems as good as ever. We’re going into the race in great shape. She’s really good (around the barn) and has a great temperament. You wouldn’t even know she’s in the barn.”

Conditioner Josie Carroll has won three runnings of the Bessarabian, including the last two, both with Moonlit Promise. She also won with Smart Surprise in 2008, and sends out the trio of Gamble’s Candy, Heavenly Hill and Painting this year.

The race is named after Canada’s champion older female of 1986, a multiple stakes-winning daughter of Vice Regent trained by Michael Doyle and owned by Eaton Hall Farm. She finished her racing career with an 18-5-4 mark from 37 starts.

The Bessarabian is carded as race eight on Sunday’s 11-race program. First post is 1:05 p.m. Fans can also watch and wager on all the action through

One of the headliner’s for an intriguing edition of the Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes on Sunday is XENOBIA, a Grade 3 winner on the grass in New York in her last start – NYRA photo


$175,000 Bessarabian Stakes (Grade 2)

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Painting – Kazushi Kimura – Josie Carroll

2 – Amalfi Coast – Eurico Rosa da Silva – Kevin Attard

3 – Zestina – David Moran – Sid Attard

4 – Heavenly Hill – Justin Stein – Josie Carroll

5 – Above All Names – Gary Boulanger – Blair Miller

6 – Xenobia – Nik Juarez – Jonathan Thomas

7 – Gamble’s Candy – Luis Contreras – Josie Carroll

8 – Souper Striking – Jerome Lermyte – Michael Trombetta

9 – Misericordia – Jevian Toledo – Jorge Duarte, Jr.

10 – Red Cabernet – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Ian Black

11 – Lady Mamba – Rafael Hernandez – Cherie DeVaux

12 – Special Relativity – David Cohen – Norm McKnight