A compact group of Ontario-sired sprinters are in the spotlight on Monday’s Victoria Day racing program at Woodbine.
The race office has pegged the morning line favorite as six-year-old gelding Gypsy Ring, a seven-time winner of $582,322 through 23 career starts. But it could be that they tabbed the wrong six-year-old gelding as the public choice in the $125,000 New Providence at six furlongs. Bettors may steer themselves in the direction of Paso Doble, a winner of eight career races from 32 starts and $569,085, by virtue of his recent third-place finishes against stiff open company in the Jacques Cartier and Vigil Stakes. Both were won by Essence Hit Man, who returned this spring with nothing on his mind but racing, and at a high rate of speed.
The New Providence, which Paso Doble won by a length last year, is important class relief.
Meanwhile, Gypsy Ring hasn’t been heard from since he won a weak Ontario-sired stakes event (dubbed the Debut) on opening day – a race that Paso Doble had entered but scratched out of to run in the Jacques Cartier the following day. Gypsy Ring was barely up in time to snatch victory away from a much less accomplished competitor in Executive Fire, who is one of the five in the New Providence.
Also somewhat troubling is that Gypsy Ring has only worked once since the April 6 start. He worked five furlongs in a benign 1:01 2/5, which was 34th best of 98 at five furlongs on the morning of May 13. Not sure what he was up to for five weeks.
As Ontario-sired runners of the same age, they’ve crossed paths frequently. The last time the pair met was in the seven-furlong Overskate last September. The race was decided by a neck, in favor of Gypsy Ring. But dynamics didn’t favor Paso Doble, who was forced to carry five extra pounds and wound up in a bit of duel while Gypsy Ring sat just off the duel and pounced.
With three front-running types (more or less) in supporting cast, the New Providence sets up in such a way that both Paso Doble and Gypsy Ring can sit fourth and fifth, allowing the gelding with the most potent kick to earn the victory. More importantly for Paso Doble, this prevents the Overskate scenario from giving Gypsy Ring a tactical edge.
Gypsy Ring certainly takes his share of action, favored in five of last 12 starts. Seeing him higher than 2-1 would be surprise, but it is the belief that more of the public will land in the Paso Doble camp. He’s faced better of late, he’ll be ridden by Patrick Husbands and he’s trained for Centennial Farms by reigning Sovereign Award winner Mark Casse.
Even more reason why he should take more money: he should win on Monday. Everything points in his direction.
Paso Doble will be making his third start off the layoff, which generally leads to a peak performance. Gypsy Ring has been idle in the afternoon and perhaps the morning since opening weekend, which sets off warning bells, especially considering the comeback race wasn’t overly fast or visually impressive. He really shouldn’t have needed this much time to recover. The fact he skipped the Vigil is another signal that something may have gone amiss in the interim.
Lastly, Paso Doble will win because there aren`t any horses of Essence Hit Man`s ability in the New Providence. The son of Bold `N Flashy has a chance at a confidence boosting victory in the feature, which should springboard him into the Summer.