On Thursday at a special noon-hour event, final entries were taken and post positions were drawn for the 56th renewal of the Oaks. Jennifer Heil, a multiple Olympic medalist in freestyle mogul skiing, was on hand as the honorary drawmaster, drawing the entry sheets out of the box while racing secretary Steve Lym drew the numbered pills in the traditional "double-blind" system. Heil won gold in the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy, and then took a silver in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, on top of her five Overall World Cup titles, 58 World Cup podiums, four gold and two silver World Championship performances. She is also very active in charitable causes, supporting Plan International's "Because I Am A Girl" campaign promoting the advancement of females in underdeveloped countries, "Dare to Dream" which encourages Canadian youth, "B2ten", a business based approach to assist Canadian amateur athletes with training and preparation resources, as well as mentoring the next generation of female athletes through her annual "girls only" mogul ski camp.
A field of 9 three-year-old fillies made final entry for the 56th renewal of the Oaks, with Dixie Strike the 6-5 morning line favorite out of post 6. She started 2012 winning the Florida Oaks before finishing 4th in the Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream and 5th in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland, and then returned home to win the Selene Stakes (G3). Trainer Mark Casse said of the Selene win, "We had kind of thought, looking at the race, that there wasn't a lot of speed. Patrick and I talked about it and decided we were going to lay close (to the pace). Patrick said, when he came away from there (the gate), she just didn't want to run. So he let her settle back. When he pulled the trigger, she fired. I think he gunned her and she went quicker than he thought she would. So he was kind of stuck with nowhere to go and had to wait before he could tuck down and go inside. I don't think you can ever expect that kind of effort. You can only hope for it." Regular rider Patrick Husbands gets the call on Sunday
Stablemate Northern Passion is the 5-2 second choice out of gate 4. She comes to this race off a win in the Fury Stakes, the major local prep for the Oaks, after finishing 6th in the Herecomesthebride (G3) and a very close 4th in the Florida Oaks. Irish Mission, post 8, is the 6-1 third choice, off her maiden win at Keeneland last out. Trainer Mark Casse said, "She's back to herself. I thought her race in the Fury was very good. I think she's on top of her game right now. The distance could be a question. But the one thing about her is she is push button. She won't go until you ask her to go. So Luis is going to be able to sit back and relax."
Irish Mission drew post 8 as the 6-1 third choice for trainer Mark Frostad. She broke her maiden last out at Keeneland. Frostad said, "Her last two races have been really nice efforts. She's started to figure everything out which you can see in her last two races. We always thought we had a good filly and she's really showing it now."
The Budweiser Woodbine Oaks is scheduled as the ninth race on a ten-race card on Sunday at Woodbine, going to post at 5:17pm ET. On the undercard of the Oaks is the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings, carded as race 8 at 4:42pm, and the $100,000 Alywow Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf, carded as race 6 at 3:40pm. The Trial and the Oaks will be televised on CBC in Canada from 4:30-5:30pm, while the whole card will be on HPI-TV in Canada and TVG in America.
|1||Waitinginthewings||Ashlee Brnjas||Jesse Campbell||20-1|
|2||Bantee||Reade Baker||Gerry Olguin||20-1|
|3||Awesome Fire||Nick Gonzalez||Emma-Jayne Wilson||20-1|
|4||Northern Passion||Mark Casse||Luis Contreras||5-2|
|5||Black Bird Rock||Mark Casse||Eurico Rosa da Silva||12-1|
|6||Dixie Strike||Mark Casse||Patrick Husbands||6-5|
|7||Rose and Shine||Ralph Biamonte||Omar Moreno||8-1|
|8||Irish Mission||Mark Frostad||Alex Solis||6-1|
|9||Horseshoe Hill||Mike Doyle||Justin Stein||20-1|