Stayhonor Goodside and Kazushi Kimura win on the Woodbine Tapeta on May 22, 2022 (Michael Burns)
By Chris Lomon – Woodbine Communications
TORONTO— Dual hall of fame trainer Mark Casse sends out the trifecta of Gran Spirited, Ninetyfour Expos and Stayhonor Goodside in the $125,000 Woodstock Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.
The six-furlong Woodstock, for 3-year-olds, has been a key prep race leading up to the Queen’s Plate, set for August 20, the first leg of the historic Canadian Triple Crown series.
A son of Shaman Ghost, Gran Spirited won two of five starts in his rookie campaign, including the Simcoe Stakes, at 6 ½ panels on the Woodbine Tapeta last August.
Owned by René Hunderup’s Heste Sport Inc., the dark bay, who was co-bred (along with Delaware Run Farm) in Ontario by Hunderup’s Norse Ridge Farms, will make his 3-year-old debut in the Woodstock.
“He’s a nice horse and has really grown up through the wintertime. He’s training better this year than he did last year. We don’t have a whole lot of options with him, but I figure that he’s going to get better with more distance.”
After a sixth to start his career, Gran Spirited broke his maiden next time out, a head score at six furlongs on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course on July 29.
Declan Carroll, aboard for all five starts, gets the call again.
Bred in Ontario by Robert Marzilli and owned by D.J. Stable LLC, Ninetyfour Expos will also be making his sixth career start in the Woodstock.
The dark bay son of Outwork finished third in his debut last May at Woodbine before stepping up to the plate with a resounding 8 ¼-length triumph at five furlongs over the Toronto oval Tapeta one race later on May 29.
This will be the third stakes appearance for the gelding who was fifth and fourth, respectively, in last year’s Soaring Free and Grade 1 Summer, both run on the E.P. Taylor.
“He’s training well. He’s wintered well, but he’s going to have to step his game in this one. There are a couple of really nice horses in this race.”
Stayhonor Goodside, another D.J. Stable LLC sophomore, is Casse’s third hopeful.
A son of Honor Code, bred in Ontario by Stan Dodson, the dark bay won first time out last May going 4 ½ panels on the Woodbine Tapeta. His next five races were all stakes, including a third in the turf Soaring Free and a second in last October’s 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer, also run on the E.P. Taylor.
The gelding brings a mark of 1-1-1 from six starts into the Woodstock.
“He’s training well too. He had a good winter, but like Ninetyfour Expos, he’s going to have to step it up on Saturday.”
Casse, who recently won his 12th straight and 15th overall Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion trainer, won the 2018 edition of the Woodstock with Curlin’s Honor.
The Woodstock is Race 9 on Sunday’s 10-race card. First post time is 1:10 p.m.
Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse app.