TORONTO, December 4 - The final race card of the 2008 Woodbine thoroughbred racing season was drawn Thursday morning, signaling the end of the eight-month season.

Sunday's closing day, which has a first-race post time of 12:40 p.m., one-half hour earlier than the usual 1:10 p.m. launch, features a season-high 180 horses spread over a 13-race card.

The Valedictory Stakes, for older horses, at a mile and three-quarters, is the spotlight event on the meet's curtain-closing afternoon. It goes as race 10, a race that features 13 runners, including three U.S. invaders. Chantal Sutherland will return to ride Storm the Castle, while top American jockey, Kent Desormeaux, makes a rare late-season appearance at Woodbine to partner Star Plus.

The final horse put through the entry box this year was Red Lake Gold, a two-year-old son of Regal Classic, submitted by trainer Jimmy Day. The chestnut was entered into race 2, which drew 14 runners.

"It's a good card for the last one of the meet," said Steve Lym, Woodbine's Director of Racing and Racing Secretary. "It's got a lot of quality."

The first horse entered for the 2008 opening-day card on April 5 was Boldcorp, trained by Reade Baker.

Sunday's weather forecast, according to Environment Canada, offers periods of snow with a high of minus three degrees Celsius.

Vaquero ready to 'Display' best form at Woodbine

TORONTO, December 4 * Vaquero, who contested this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, makes his Canadian debut in Saturday's $150,000 Display Stakes, at Woodbine.

A two-year-old son of Orientate, Vaquero looks to build on a sixth-place finish, five lengths back of Donavitum, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on October 25.

"He came out of the race in great shape," said trainer Michael Leahy, of the effort that earned the colt a career-best 82 Beyer Figure (Daily racing Form speed rating). "It wasn't the run we had hoped for. He got bunched up going into the first turn, but he was flying at the end. He raced well."

Bred and owned by Roger Braugh Jr., Vaquero finished third as the favourite in his career bow on June 13 at Presque Isle, rallying late to finish less than two lengths back at the wire.

"A horse got loose before the start and it took 15 minutes to get him," recalled Leahy, a former assistant to James Bond, who then worked as a private trainer in Saudi Arabia prior to obtaining his trainer's license a year and a half ago. "He spotted the field six lengths, but ran a good race to finish third."

Vaquero broke his maiden at Turfway Park on September 6, a 3 ¾-length win on the Polytrack, in his third start. The Kentucky-bred then finished fourth to Bittel Road in the Grade 3 Bourbon on the Keeneland turf on October 5, before contesting the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.

While the 1 1/16-mile Display represents Vaquero's first race at Woodbine, he has been to the Toronto oval before.

"I ran another horse (Freedom Alert) earlier in the year at Woodbine and we brought Vaquero along in the van to see how he handled the trip," said Leahy. "He proved to be a good shipper. We even let him test the track and he liked it."

Vaquero, who has been at Woodbine since Monday, recently worked three furlongs in :37 1/5, breezing, on the 'Poly.'

"When an opportunity like this arises, you take it," offered Leahy. "The people at Woodbine are great, the surface is great and the purses are fantastic."

Vaquero will be ridden by Richard Dos Ramos and breaks from post nine in the 12-horse Display.

"I'm early on in my own training career, so I'm lucky to have a nice horse like him," said Leahy.

First-race post is 12:40 p.m.


Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer
1 / Patena / Robert Landry / Josie Carroll
2 / Saint Reade / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Reade Baker
3 / Bear's Rocket / Tyler Pizarro / Reade Baker
4 / Flying Brigade / Jono Jones /Alec Fehr
5 / Hooh Why / Justin Stein / Michael Reavis
6 / Oconee / Corey Fraser / Mark Casse
7 / Shafted / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
8 / Kennisis River / Steve Bahen / Dan Vella
9 / Vaquero / Richard Dos Ramos / Michael Leahy
10 / Red Leader / Jim McAleney / Dan Vella
11 / Unbridle's Dream / Emile Ramsammy / Steve Asmussen
12 / D'Artagnan / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Reade Baker