BUFFERY: Jockey Boulanger’s 2021 return includes four-win day – Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Steve Buffery

Jockey Gary Boulanger guides Lorena to victory in the $125,000 Fury Stakes at Woodbine on July 10, 2021.
Jockey Gary Boulanger guides Lorena to victory in the $125,000 Fury Stakes at Woodbine on July 10, 2021. Photo by Michael Burns /Woodbine Entertainment

Woodbine Racetrack has been open for business for one month, and the dangerous nature of thoroughbred horse racing has been on full display.


Four jockeys at the Rexdale track already have been involved in accidents and have missed race days, resulting in other jockeys inheriting rides and, in some cases, winning big on them.

Last July, veteran jock Gary Boulanger seriously injured one of his knees and missed riding the one-eyed wonder horse Mighty Heart in the Queen’s Plate. Daisuke Fukumoto picked up the ride on Mighty Heart and won not only the Plate, but the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie — two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown.

But things have turned around for Boulanger. On Saturday at Woodbine, the Drayton Valley, Alta., native put together a grand slam performance on the 11-race program, winning four races, his fourth coming aboard Lorena in the $125,000 Fury Stakes for three-year-old fillies.


Lorena is trained and co-owned by Stu Simon and is undefeated in three career starts. Boulanger picked up the ride on Lorena after returning to Woodbine earlier this season from his knee injury. He had worked her and then was aboard her for a race on June 19 at Woodbine — a three-length victory — after Lorena’s first rider, Rafael Hernandez, sustained a hairline vertebra fracture from a spill on opening day (June 12) at the Rexdale track. Hernandez rode Lorena when she was a two-year-old last Nov. 21, a huge 7 1/2-length victory at Woodbine. After Boulanger returned from his almost-year long injury last month, he began exercising Lorena in the morning.

“She was already spoken for (for races) but I just wanted to work some horses and then unfortunately Rafi (Hernandez) got hurt and I picked her up and we’ve been together since,” said the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame jock. “It’s been a great partnership and I appreciate Stu giving me the chance.”


Simon is mulling over whether the Ontario-bred filly will head to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks on Aug. 1 at Woodbine.

Boulanger won on Fun Cool in the fifth race on Saturday, filling in for the injured Fukomoto, who was hurt in a spill on July 8. Jockeys losing rides to injuries is nothing new. This season, in only a month of competition, jockeys Hernandez, Fukumoto and Skye Chernetz, the later two still out of action, have all gone down, and now young rider Keveh Nicholls, one of the great stories this year season with 13 victories (fourth overall in the rider standings) is also out. Nicholls was dislodged in the fourth race on Sunday aboard three-year-old colt Bodie. He was conscious and alert afterwards but taken to hospital. Bodie was okay. Nicholls had been looking for his first stakes win later in the day in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes aboard Haddassah, but had to be replaced by Patrick Husbands. Haddassah ended up finishing third in the Marine.


Boulanger would have won his fifth of the day in Race 10 on Saturday aboard the John Mattine-trained Emmeline, but was just caught at the wire by 29-1 long shot Miss Marie with David Moran in the saddle for trainer Breeda Hayes and owner Hillsbrook Farms. In her first start on June 19, Miss Marie finished ninth, 10 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Talk about a dramatic turnaround.

Lorena is co-owned by former jockey Gerry Olguin, as well as Brent and Russell McLellan.


Easy Time, ridden by Hernandez, trained by Mark Casse and owned by Breeze Easy LLC, won the $150,000 Marine Stakes for three-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles on Sunday and had a fairly ‘easy time’ with it.

Keep Grinding, owned by 17-year-old Joshua Attard and trained by his grandfather Tino Attard, finished second. Haddassah, trained by Joshua’s dad Kevin Attard and owned by Al and Bill Ulwelling, was third.


Easy Time earned his first graded stakes victory, covering the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.62.

“It was unbelievable today,” said Hernandez, who was also aboard the Kentucky-bred colt for his victorious career debut at Woodbine last October. “They told me: ‘Raffi, just ride with confidence, get in good position and he’s going to do the rest.’ He did it.”

Easy Time paid $11.10 to win as the 9-2 fourth choice. The Not This Time-Running Creek colt is now two-for-four in his career.

Second favourite Tio Magico cruised to victory in the second feature race of the day on Sunday, the $125,000 Queenston Stakes, a seven furlongs sprint for three-year-olds foaled in Canada. Under the guidance of Luis Contreras, Tio Magico took an early lead out of gate eight and won easily with an inside trip for his second victory in eight lifetime starts, beating out a game Artie’s Storm. The dark bay gelding is owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Gail Cox. Contreras won three races on Sunday.


Early favourite Gretzky the Great, who earned over $270,000 as a two-year-old, was scratched from the Queenston. The Casse-trained colt won last year’s Grade 1 Summer Stakes and was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf race on Nov.6.

Tio Magico was a top three Queen’s Plate contender, assessed at 6-1 odds in the Winterbook predictive rankings. When asked about targeting the 1 1/4-mile first leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, which takes place on Sunday, Aug. 22 at Woodbine, Cox said the date would be up for discussion among the connections.


Trainer Ashlee Brnjas and Colebrook Farms won a pair of races on Sunday with Celebratory in the first and Infamous Covert in the sixth. Brnjas now has six wins on the year at Woodbine and is third amongst conditioners, tied with Norm McKnight (behind Casse, 16, and Josie Carroll, nine).


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