After stepping outside my vehicle I immediately caught a glimpse of handicapper/race analyst Dawn Lupul - in from Woodbine to work the CTV broadcast. I'd catch up to her and we'd tour the barn area to have a look at some of the contenders and maybe get some reaction from the connections involved with them...
We'd reach the Robertino Diodoro camp and we'd briefly spot Broadway Empire having a nap in his stall. Both Dawn and myself considered this to be an excellent sign, for this particular horse, as the key word for this fella all week has been 'relax'.
We'd offer up some best wishes, to all involved, and then it was off to the grandstand to set up my day in the booth. "Sugar - you're wearing a tie!" says one familiar customer, as I make my way through the morning crowd.
45 minutes to Race 1 - under sunny skies and fast track conditions...
- Cap Gunner, with Nate Smith aboard, would open up Derby Day for Wilde Racing and trainer Cody Anderson.
- Saturday Nite Ride would be much the best in the $75,000 Distaff, with Aaron Gryder up, for North American Thoroughbred Horse Company.
- Hilltops Hope rolling gate to wire in the 3rd with 'Fast Eddy' Martinez on for Diana Feuerhelm.
- Nate Smith & Cody Anderson combine, once more, in the 4th with Meetmeat Tiffanys.
- Bearcatt, with the apprentice Amie Pooli, captured the 5th for trainer Lianne Knechtel.
- Misikitew, with Rico Walcott on for Joan Petrowski, takes the 6th with ease - it was 2:27 pm...
It was 2:30 pm when the skies opened up... It rained to the point that we'd have to go under a rain delay... It's tough to keep a Derby Day crowd involved, during any kind of a delay, but I had my photographer friend Mark Seon offering up the latest satellite weather reports, plus I was popping down to the outdoor grandstand to make sure there was still some sheltered seating available for race fans... I'd relay those bits of info over the PA and before we knew it we were back up and racing under sunny skies... It was Race 7 going to post at 3:20 pm - under sunny skies, but we'd now be racing over a sloppy track.
- Grand Request, with Kyle Carter in the irons, would take the Marathon for Hurley Racing Stable and trainer Deanna Walper.
- Shady Exchange for Reid Racing Stable and conditioner Rod Cone took the 8th - a second win for Walcott.
- Commander, the absolute 'horse for this course', dominated the $50,000 Westerner - a second stakes triumph for Gryder and NATHC on the day.
- Short Memo took the 11th - a Walcott triple - for Jim McFayden and trainer Robertino Diodoro.
It was now 5:51 pm... "84th Running of the Canadian Derby... Title Contender coming in... They're standing in line... They're off and IT IS ON!"
Success Rate and Gryder broke first with immediate pressure from both Smart Promotion and Title Contender. A perfect move out of the gate, from leading jockey Rico Walcott, had him pointing Broadway Empire to be up close - finding a spot to 'relax' near the inside and behind the early speed.
With "one lap to go in the Derby"Walcott had Broadway Empire perfectly positioned in 3rd and still very much 'relaxed' at this point. This horse was tripping out just the way the connections had planned.
On the backside - final time - Walcott unleashes the beast with three furlongs left to run. "Broadway Empire by four- he wants more! Broadway Empire by five! Broadway Empire running away!"
And just like that he was gone...
"Here is Derby 84... The dream is coming true for Diodoro and crew... Broadway Empire!"
And it was over...
Broadway Empire held on to win, by three lengths, over a closing Reporting Star. Shooting Star came on for third, with For Cash and Deadly Truth rounding out the top five. Then came Just Win Baby, Skimmer Jim, Two To Load, Success Rate, Risky Call, Title Contender and Smart Promotion.
- Spicy Legend, with Ismael Mosqueira, would take the finale for Southview Ag Ltd. and trainer Dale Greenwood. It was 6:32 pm...
The total wager on the day was $1,160,651 - made up of $621,959 on track/ $538,692 off track.
(*2012 Derby Day total wager $1,134,004)
"A dream come true for all the connections. Bob Butz, Randy Howg, Rick Running Rabbit and Robertino! It's the perfect story!!" - Nikki Diodoro (wife of Robertino)
"So proud of Uncle Rico, along with Robertino and Nikki, on the big win in the Canadian Derby! Love them all!!"- Twylla Bensmiller (Horse Trainer)
"Tickled for Canadian Derby winner "Broadway Empire" owners Randy Howg, Bob Butz & Rick Running Rabbit. All long time Canadian Thoroughbred Race Horse owners and supporters. Trainers Robertino & Nikki Diodoro and the whole Diodoro crew are well deserving of the win and kudos to the trainer in crediting Farrier John McKenzie in getting the horse to the track safe and sound."- Kathy Butkovic (Owner/Equine Sports Therapist at EquiSportsTherapy)
- Roof-top view of walking ring on Derby Day Roof-top view of walking ring on Derby Day
- After the rains... Ponies are ready to post parade for Race 7 After the rains... Ponies are ready to post parade for Race 7
- Mother and daughter anxiously wait for more action on track Mother and daughter anxiously wait for more action on track
- Broadway Empire, w/ Rico Walcott up, post parading with horsemen Darcy Hawkes Broadway Empire, w/ Rico Walcott up, post parading with horsemen Darcy Hawkes