By Chris Lomon for Woodbine Communications
Canada: Prolific sprinter Pink Lloyd, nothing short of a Woodbine marvel, bids for his 27th victory on what will be only his 33rd career start on Saturday’s stakes-laden card at Canada’s foremost venue.
Stablemates Mighty Heart and Belichick, who between them won all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown are also set to meet again in the G3 Ontario Derby, while Pink Lloyd, Canada’s most popular horse, looks to add to his black-type bonanza in the G2 Kennedy Road under Rafael Hernandez.
Canadian Horse of the Year in 2017, the eight-year-old gelding has never run anywhere else but Woodbine, where he is looking for his 24th stakes success in a Can$175,000 event on Tapeta he won in 2017 and 2019.
Unbeaten in four starts this year, his current winning streak stands at ten races. He pushed his career earnings above the Can$2m mark with his most recent victory on September 5 with his fourth consecutive victory in the G3 Vigil Stakes.
‘Is it going to help him or is it going to hurt him?’
“We’re both very happy,” says veteran trainer Robert Tiller. “He’s doing well. We haven’t run for two-and-a-half months, so we’re in new territory. That’s the big question – is it going to help him or is it going to hurt him?
“He’s eight, but I can’t worry about all of that stuff,” Tiller goes on. “I’ve done my job and he’s doing his job. I think he’s in good order. There are going to be some tough horses in there, some tough competition.
“But as far as Pink Lloyd’s concerned, it’s a horse race. We’re going into it very happy and I think he’ll be very fit and happy. Hopefully, he’s not too sharp because when he does, he sometimes can get a little goofy at the gate.”
Pink Lloyd previously reeled off 11 consecutive victories from 2017 into 2018, and is currently riding a 10-race win streak following an unblemished season in 2019. He has delivered his connections six Sovereign Awards.
“He’s doing very, very well, and I expect a big race out of him,” adds Tiller. “If you look at his record, he does well about 14 months out of the year. Well, at least 13. All you have to do is look at his record. He runs well in the cold and he runs well in the hot.
‘I’m getting older and he’s getting older’
“I talk to him 10 times a day. He’s bobbing his head outside the door. It’s almost like he can hear you. He’s just a super-amazing animal. I’m getting older and he’s getting older, and maybe we’re getting long in the tooth, but he owes us nothing. We’ll always love him.”
As will local racing fans, who regard Pink Lloyd as a bona fide rock star. “I don’t know what people say on social media,” says Tiller. “But they do say nice things? Well, that’s just great to hear. I’m going to be 71 on December 11, so I’m not a big computer guy.
“I’ve been doing this for 54 years, and I’m still doing it,” he adds. “But you realise that you’re only as good as you are because of your horses. It’s like a hockey coach – if you don’t have the good players, you’re in trouble. Good players make you. But I think we’ve done very well managing this horse and our other horses.
“As far as ‘Pinky,’ there are just no words for him. He’s running because he wants to run. He just likes what he does – and it’s nice to know people appreciate that. It will be a sad day when this all ends, but it will also be a happy day. I never thought he would turn into this monster that he is. He’s a legend.”
Elsewhere on the card, one-eyed wonder Mighty Heart, winner of the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes, faces his Breeders’ Stakes conqueror Belichick in the Ontario Derby.
Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll, enjoying an outstanding 2020 campaign, is looking forward to seeing them back in action. “I couldn’t be happier with how they both came out of that last race and how they are coming into this one,” she said. “They’re doing really, really well.”
Front-running Mighty Heart could not relax on the lead and faded after trying to make all over 1m4f on turf in the Breeders’ Stakes; now he gets cuts back three furlongs back to Tapeta, the surface on which he beat Belichick in the Queen’s Plate.
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