It’s a busy time at the barn! It feels just like yesterday that Princess (A Pic by Mrwill) thrilled us with her amazing 2017 debut and after continuing to train v. well and show us all the right signs, she treats us with another race this month! She’s never looked better and is in the best place mentally. We can’t help but thank everyone at TeamRoss for keeping her there, from her handler Errol to exercise rider Joshua Scott to John himself.
We congratulate Team Ross on their huge score with Princess‘ stablemate Lokinforpursemonee in last Saturday’s $100k Woodstock Stakes! Another highly-touted stablemate Cool Catomine whom after a few setbacks, makes his first start this Friday at Woodbine also. We’ve had our eye on since he walked through the sales ring at the CTHS Sale back in September 2015, the same sale in which Princess was purchased.
Princess will unite again with jockey Steven Bahen, with whom we can see she has clicked really well. They appear in race 9 (4:47 PM EST) this coming Saturday, April 29, 2017. We thank everyone for their continued support and hope to make you proud! We couldn’t believe our eyes that despite opening at a long 15-1 odds in her last race, she was bet down at one point to 5-1. This is the power of Princess!
See Princess’ stellar 2017 debut below:
Princess loved seeing our friend Emily Shields (who shoots for Daily Racing Form) who came in from California last weekend and took this lovely photo of her and Errol:
The season’s begun and guess what? PRINCESS is back too! We tried keeping this a secret but so much for that! Our girl A PIC BY MRWILL makes her three-year-old debut right in time for the start of the 2017 racing season at WoodbineSaturday, April 15, 2017. Under the silks of her proud parents John Ross and Cathy Wong, she will be ridden for the first time ever by respected journeyman and Avelino Gomez Award recipient Steven Bahen whom she struck a real strong connection with in a breeze last Saturday.
Steven who stunned the racing world in 2011 aboard 80-1 upset Queen’s Plate winner T J’s Lucky Moon, has in his career piloted greats like Mt. Sassafrass, Simply Lovely, Silent Fleet, Cinquieme Essai and Nipissing. Heunlocked something in Princess we’ve never seen prior before in her workouts and we’re excited to see their chemistry together on the track for the first time! Hopefully the Ross barn’s two wins on opening day in 2016 – one courtesy of Steven – are a sign of things to come? But really, we’re happy just to see progress as she’s shown us all winter in Florida!
Princess a couple weeks back had the honour also of working under #emmazingEmma-Jayne Wilson in a good work, her first since being back at Woodbine. She has been paired with workmate Royal Katy under Katy Morrison and has kept right up.
Some Snaps of that:
She faces a talented and promising field of young ladies making their three-year-old debut at five furlongs, a distance Princess trained at last week. We have a feeling she might want to go a bit longer but this is a great starting point for her to get a race under her belt.
Send all your luck, we need it and appreciate it! See you at the races Saturday? Race 10, #10! Post time is 5:59 PM EST.
Mr. Will x Princess
p.s. Princess is now on Facebook too! Come be her ‘priend’here.
These past few days have been exciting for her and if you are in Toronto, tune in 6:20 PM EST tonight on CTV during their Sports segment for a feature including Princess, her dad John and Emma! Thanks CTV, Keith McCalmont and Woodbine!
She’s back! Our girl Princess (A Pic by Mrwill) officially has made her return to Woodbine! Trucking-in from Classic Mile Training Center in Ocala, Florida where she wintered, Princess made it in early Thursday morning to resume preparations for her eagerly-awaited 2017 sophomore campaign. Team John Ross including assistant Wesley and groom Tedston among others oversaw her development and care and my, has she ever blossomed!
We’ve been keeping a close watch on our dear girl and while there are only a couple reported workouts out of Florida so far this winter, we can say that she has progressed from the horse who fought to keep-up in her workouts now to the one coming-out ahead. Princess’ mom Cathy (seen below) occasionally sends us updates and although I believe what I am told, I sometimes really just need to see it for myself.
Walking into her barn Saturday morning, my first time seeing her in almost four months, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’m unsure if it’s because her mane has grown-out making her look more elegant or if it’s because she’s sporting that sunny Florida glow, but Princess looked absolutely stunning. She’s never looked better. She’s almost tall enough to touch the top of her her stall door frame! Watch out there, big girl!
Moving a stall down this year, I am happy to see that she has a little window now to help her keep in touch with her training mate Royal Katy, a Colonel John filly who showed lots of promise in non-restricted company last fall at Woodbine finishing close to the likes of Queen’s Plate contender Ellen Vannin, the talented Tulsa and Mark Casse trainees Heard That and Kodiac Gal.
And I had my doubts whether Princess would remember me after not seeing me this long, but how silly was I for thinking that!? She started responding ecstatically once she saw me walk into her barn, knowing exactly what was going down. It’s as if she were Eve, discovering the sweet taste of an Ontario apple for the first time, so unable to contain herself she spat out a chunk biting more than she could chew. I’ve seen her happy and I’ve seen her a bit down, but I’ve never ever seen her this excited!
What I found particularly funny was seeing her respond to barn mates being walked around, poking her head out of her stall and nipping at them. A new habit perhaps? What happened to our sweet Princess?! In all, I’m happy to see her confidence up, which is exactly what we all felt she needed to grow into all along.
Princess releases a statement on her return to Woodbine:
If all goes well hopefully we’ll be seeing Princess’ season debut real soon. Like you, we don’t know where the winter went with less than three weeks left till Woodbine‘s 2017 season begins!
Some fresh snaps of Princess:
Shout-out also to Scacher and Gianni Lighta who are bringing their #WorkCrewStyle(click to check out their YouTube channel about life on the backstretch) to Team John Ross:
… and did you know that Princess has a beautiful two-year-old full sister named Miss G Note? Although we see a clear resemblance, she’s definitely much more reserved than Princess. Light Angel vs. Dark Angel if you will! I’m sure many of you with siblings can relate. Are you a Light Angel like Princess or a Dark Angel like Miss G Note?
Hello Pritches! It’s been a while since we’ve checked-in with “Princess“. After an amazing holiday thanks to the wonderful people at Hunter Hill Stables,Princess shipped to Ocala, Florida to being her winter training back in December. Our girl packed on a few pounds during her break, but already has worked herself into fighting form. And my, how she continues to grow!
Yesterday was Princess’ first serious workout of 2017 and together with some of her stablemates from the John Ross barn, we hear she was pure fire without being asked. In fact, her workout time was quicker than the boys! She very much is confirming our collective suspicion that perhaps she was meant to be a better three-year-old on the track. Even Woodbine’s very own Dawn Lupul has said this on-air about her and she’s usually right!
We miss Princess lots and thanks to her caretaker Tedston, we are getting updates on her progress. We’ve been lucky enough to get some snaps of her even. We last saw her before the Holidays looking plump and furry and in just under two months, she’s looking a sleek vision!
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s been a while since we’ve had an installment of Princess Diaries, so we thought we’d check-in on our sweetheart, A PIC BY MRWILL!
After surprising us with a sharp burst of speed in her last race August 5th, she had us biting our nails in what was her most daring run yet, leading most of the way to tire late at the seven furlong distance. I guess our biggest dilemma still is figuring just how far Princess wants to go. Her first start showed great late kick and that last race she showed unexpected speed out of the gate. Regardless, she has a lot of learning to do, but we’ve seen enough potential and brilliance from her to know she’ll get there.
Princess had a couple setbacks this Summer including a virus which had her coughing quite a bit and also a minor injury preventing her from making a scheduled start on Woodbine Mile Day (how cool it would’ve been to run the same card as Tepin!). While she continues to grow rapidly, Team John Ross is doing the right thing giving her the winter to mature. We all know she is a special filly and we will give her all our patience as we look forward to her three-year-old season.
For now she continues to gallop on the daily with exercise rider Josh, whom she seems to be gelling quite well with!
Decisions still are being made whether she will winter locally or head down to Florida, so we’ll be spending as much time with Princess over the next little while as we’ll miss her!
Along the way we’ve had so much fun cheering on TeamJohn Ross, who have had a phenomenal season so far with triple-winner CLASSYSHADESOFGREY, stakes-placed RAGLAN ROAD and stakes winners R U WATCHINGBUD, ULTRAFLAME and LOKINFORPURSEMONEE, the latter who has stamped himself one of the top two-year-olds in the country.
We thank everyone including jockey Sheena Ryan who has been with Princess from the start and all of our PICsies/Pritches (however spicy you are!) for all your support. We are touched by all your encouragement and won’t let you down next year!
She loves to hear from you and always needs you!! Here are some of her faves!
Although this latest edition of PrincessDiaries comes a bit sooner than imagined, our girl A PIC BY MRWILL is back! We were so touched by all the support Princess got from Racing Fans and Handicappers alike once again being bet-down as the post-time favourite in her second start early July.
We let you down and we are sorry. We still love you and hope you haven’t stopped loving us.
We admit like you we were a bit baffled by that last race where she was a bit more forwardly-placed, only to fade in the stretch especially after her first race and workout tab showed so much promise. Since then, she’s had a month to regroup. We’ve seen her focus on distance with her longest workout to date yet at six furlongs. She’s also been going on her two-mile jogs and we hear she is a “monster” and full of power on those.
Team John Ross, who have been having an amazing season with stable stars like R U Watchingbud, Ultraflame and top two-year-olds Raglan Road and Lokinforpursemonee (also, wait till they unveil the promising Cool Catomine!)have patiently been handling Princess and figuring her out. Rest assured, we still believe in her and love her very much. Her tall and strong physiology suggest she will appreciate added distance and this is exactly what she’ll get in her third lifetime start on Friday, August 5, 2016 at Woodbine.
Otherwise, in addition to a professional training regimen, we’ve been there to give her lots of support and love with kisses, apples and mini carrots – no candies for now though till she applies herself a bit more, but we leave this at her Handler Basil‘s discretion should he feels it’s warranted! Cathy (her Mom) and I have been firm about this.
I also ordered her a brand-new halter from wonderful Fincham’s Harness Shop in Nobleton. She looks amazing in it and has taken to it rather well! New halter, change of luck? No one ever said Horse Racing wasn’t hokey!
The amount of support Princess has received from the Media including mentions in the Daily Racing Form, the Toronto Star, Woodbine‘s Social Media channels and more recently Down the Stretch (the publication by 680 News’ Peter Gross) is a true testament in the public’s interest in her story and I am so proud of her no matter her order of finish Friday. In case you haven’t read the piece in Down the Stretch, you may click here to read more.
We appreciate all your encouragement and hope to see you there Friday at Woodbine or in-spirit!
Princess’ Dad John helping her put on her blinkers
Racing fans scoping out Princess in her second race early July
Princess down the stretch
Basil giving Princess a cool bath
Princess‘ Mom Cathy helping her put on her new halter
Princess and her Teddy
Princess + I giving each other a needed pick-me-up
My little Disney Princess! Thank you Sheri (@GoFilly) + Sienna!
Whaddya know? It’s Princess time! Our girl A PIC BY MRWILL is ready for her second race after a promising debut early June at Woodbine where she finished strong at the ultra-short four-and-half furlong distance. A bit more distance she asked for and a bit more she will get!
Team John Ross and I were so touched that the betting public and experts gave her a firm vote of confidence, making her the well-bet favourite that day. Thank you.
We admit there was some growing to do, and the Team learned a few surprising things about her from that debut. It is always a bit disappointing when things don’t go as envisioned. I was told by moments before the race that she wasn’t going to win because others had stronger workouts than her and also it was suggested that my going on about Princess was going to ruin her chances of winning. That aside, it is the outpour of support from the community following the race however that shone through. “Next time!”. “She is beautiful!”. “She ran great!”. “The first race always is a toss-out for two-year-olds!”. These are comforting words I needed to hear and all in some way true. People are protective of our feelings and that did not go unappreciated.
My eldest brother John and Parents even came out – without telling me – to support Princess, which I realized only after finding a $100 Win-Place ticket on my kitchen table when I got home. 😢
This past month Princess really has applied herself in her training on and off track. Focus has gone into getting her acclimated with the paddock with her groom, the awesome Basil, so that she’s comfortable with her surroundings in the lead-up to the race. With her rider Sheena Ryan, she also has been working out of the starting gate to get ready for the next big day!
The Clockers (individuals who time workouts) were talking at the annual pre-Queen’s Plate Trackside Breakfast, singling her out for a great show of gate speed in her recent workouton June 25th. We love that our dear Dawn Lupul chimed-in that A Pic By MrWill actually is better known as Princess! 😄
It’s our job normally to publicize, so it is a challenge that often in this sport there’s a bit of hush-hush and fear of jinxes. Sorry, but we can’t help but get a little excited over this! We’re expecting a great turn of foot and are confident in her.
For those who missed it, Princess’ debut can be watched here:
In addition to growing (she already is tall to begin with!) quickly with each visit, we see a bit more fire in Princess. We admit she’s very sweet and almost pet-like, but at times but I worry this translates onto the track too. We’re loving that aggressiveness we’re seeing in her of late. I mean, look at her reaction to a delicious Royal Gala apple for one.
This past weekend’s Queen’s Plate was a huge deal forus. Check-out Princess in this gorgeous fascinator loaned by her mommy Cathy for the occasion, as she greet a group of Social Media influencers with great professionalism a couple weeks back.
And if you haven’t read it yet, here’s an amazing profile about us penned by one of the City’s greats, Shinan Govani, including a bit about Princess and I. We love that Princess’ story is extending beyond the racing community.
Where has the time gone? It was a chilly day in February when we first met Princess and now we’re literally living in the Tropics! Would you believe that Princess (A PIC BY MRWILL) already is nearing her debut? More on that in a bit.
I have been making my weekly (sometimes more…) visits to see her and it is amazing seeing Princess come into her own not just as an athlete, but also an amazing young lady. Her demeanour has made her popular at the John Ross barn and I make a conscious effort to spoil her with her favourite organic rainbow carrots, peppermints and tons of playtime. She has to know by now she’s special, right? Although all credit is due to John and his amazing Team, I am humbled to be a part of this even if in a tiny capacity.
A few weeks back, Princess did her first ever interview with Media Sovereign Award winner Alex Campbell (@AXCampbell1) for the Daily Racing Form and she handled herself like such a pro! Holding myself back from being jealous, I may have caught her cuddling-up to Alex after the interview. Princess sure knows the power of good press and media manipulation. What a Celeb!
John hasn’t been his best of late, but is doing the right thing getting well and we all send him lots of love and positivity for a speedy recovery. The barn is extremely thrilled riding a high after a huge win on the weekend! Princess’ workmate and sis RAGLAN ROAD (Victor’s Cry x Glaslyn, by Forestry) crushed it in her debut Saturday at Woodbine against open company! Although Raglan is the bigger of the two, Princess has matched strides with her in the morning and people on the backstretch have been paying attention. Good things often come in pairs or threes, right? Britney and Christina. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Wando and Mobil.With Approval and Izvestia. Dance Smartly and Wilderness Song. I’m just saying…
We also want to congratulate one of our favourites, Horse of the Year and recent Grade II Nassau Stakes victress LEXIE LOU who began her path to stardom in the John Ross barn. We are in awe how she managed to escape at 12-1 odds (!), topped only by her victory at an even bigger 17-1 odds in the 2013 Muskoka Stakes. We’re excited to see her step it up in a couple weeks as she’s likely to run in the Grade I Just a Game StakesBelmont Stakes weekend. This is a true testament to the quality of Ontario’s breeding program with progeny of our stallions competing at a world-class level.
Fun fact: Did you know Princess was handed-down the same stall that housed both Lexie Lou and Brooklysway?
Alex, Princess + John
Raglan Road + Team Ross waving to John, watching from home
Working out the gate with her pal Sheena Ryan, Princess has been posting some real solid workouts in company.
Some of her recent works. A furlong is about 201 metres…
Princess with my Parents (left) and my Aunts visiting from overseas. Their first time around a horse!
Princess training with Sheena and her sis Raglan Road, under Gary Boulanger
Special thanks to our friend, the lovely Ericka Rusnack (@ErickaRusnak) who captured this stunning shot of Princess and Sheena training with her other sis Saturday Dancer (under Steven Bahen) a few days ago!
Karl Lagerborg (@StallOfficeKarl) aka Racing’s “Uncle Karl” of the Woodbine Stall Office, brought the entire Scheduling Department to meet Princess, which she appreciated so much!
Also, Princess’ signature bangs are developing a Fan Club of their own, making her a bit of a fashion icon!! See some of her PICsies’ sweet Tweets! Thanks Bailey, Lynn and Maureen for your ‘bang-on’ support!
A lot happens in a month and since our last installment of PRINCESS DIARIES, our girl A PIC BY MRWILL (aka “Princess“) has continued to amaze us! She keeps-up with her weekly workout regimen under jockey Sheena Ryan at Woodbine like a true professional. Her Owner/Trainer John Ross and Cathy Wong, along with the team, are doing an amazing job getting her in top shape for her forthcoming first race.
Princess just keeps growing and growing and growing. I quite literally have to reach-up for those kisses now and never have I felt shorter!
Can we brag for a moment that she along with her two stablemates Saturday Dancer and Raglan Road – also just babies – shared the fastest workout of the day last Wednesday for three furlongs? We were floored! In fact, we want to frame this! I’d equate the feeling to a parent seeing straight As on their child’s Report Card. Yeah, I know it’s easy to get carried away as we know workouts many a time can be a false-positive to how a horse performs on race day, but we just can’t mask our excitement!
Although I had my doubts that Princess was sold on me, we finally had that one bonding moment. She is quite the carrot connoisseur – baby carrots to be exact. Peppermints? Meh. Please don’t tell anyone she ate a whole small bag of mini carrots by herself last week!!! We like to play our own little game where I tickle her lips, which really gets her going! After a bit of playtime, it was time to go and I got my confirmation that our love was mutual when she tried picking the lock on her stall when I told her ‘goodbye’. I turned into a pile of mush, all verklempt leaving the barn, pretending to yawn so that those tears wouldn’t be so obvious to passersby.
Princess‘ lip is a bit sore right now, so we didn’t play our game this weekend as she just got her official lip tattoo and according to Cathy, this now makes her a legit racehorse!
Those of us who follow Woodbine on Social Media know and love our feline friend Gator Kitten (@gatorkitten), whose sassy Tweets are voiced by his mom (and our dear friend) Sarah Ritchie. She is theassistant to three-time champion trainer Mark Frostad. After a winter in Florida, we were thrilled to see Gator and his mom on the backstretch again and we even threw a little party to celebrate Gator‘s homecoming and Princess‘ bullet workout! We coined it #GATORPRINCESSDAY and it was amazing to see Princess so smitten with the kitten.
The wonderful day was capped-off with her stablemate R U Watchingbud‘s huge score in the $125k New Providence Stakes at large odds under #emmazingEmma-Jayne Wilson! One day prior, Brooklynsway, who used to occupy Princess‘ stall, ran huge to win the Grade III Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland against some top U.S. fillies! Never underestimate a John Ross trainee.
There is a new Team Ross member here for the summer, a student named Emily (below, in purple), who is taking great care of Princess. She got a nice trim on the bangs from Emily, plus some braids, giving her that Cleopatra look. Love it!
See our Princess Video Diary for April 2016:
Princess + I support ONE LAST RACE, for the dignified retirement of racehorses. Donate here. Many celebrity racehorses like Lady Eli (whom we’re meeting next week!) and California Chrome also have joined the cause! Why don’t you?
Princess + Anna who was visiting from Lexington, Kentucky. She handles champion and soon-to-be millionairess Leigh Court for trainer Michael Stidham! We can only dream one day Princess will be anywhere near Leigh‘s level!
Princess doing my hair. So thoughtful.
Princess (turquoise, under Sheena Ryan) and stablemate Saturday Dancer at work.
If you aren’t following Princess on Social Media yet, you may do so here:
Over the span of the past month, Princess has continued to grow rather quickly. In fact, upon arriving at her stall today I barely even recognized her with her winter coat growing out, in addition to her growth spurt. I literally asked Cathy, “Who is this??”. After moving-in a little closer, I realized yes, I was indeed in the presence of the same sweet filly as last time. She continues to be incredibly-affectionate and welcoming to people.
I brought by my friend Lauren, whom I know from the Film world, and like myself, she absolutely adores horses having grown-up around them. At one point she was serious about a career in showjumping and dressage. Princess was quick to welcome Lauren with kisses. It was genuinely affecting!
She also has developed quite the appetite for miniature carrots after trying them for the first time last month, making a bit of a mess of it. Peppermints though, she’s definitely still learning about. You can see the long, pensive gaze on her face as she mentally processes that tingly, sweet sensation on her tongue and its crunch. We even brought doughnuts today too and jockey Katy Morrison, who has been a part of Princess‘ journey over the past year, for fun fed her a piece of a Tim Hortons doughnut. Although it looked like she was about to enjoy it like a patriotic Canadian girl, she’d chew it and spit it back out. Hilarious.
Princess continues to adore her Teddy and we brought it over for her to play with today. She’d fling it about, it dangling for dear life on its arm, plopping onto her bedding, followed by a plea for help in her eyes. She’d go on to do this over and over a few times in a cyclical motion. It’s so fascinating seeing her learn about her world with inquisitive child-like curiosity.And also she has this cute little lip quiver when she’s inspecting people. Adorable.
Although we just missed it, Princess posted her second workout today, her first time trying out Woodbine‘s new Tapeta surface. Sovereign Award-winning jockey Sheena Ryan piloted the workout today and we learned through her new agent Ryan Deyotte (below, Princess + Sheena on far left) that Sheena was thrilled with Princess’ breeze, clocking-in at 25 seconds flat for two furlongs (402 metres). With little urging, she showed a great willingness to go and we couldn’t be more pleased. Even as a baby, her timing bested some horses with far more experience. Her first timed workout a week ago clocked-in at 24.8 seconds on the Dirt Training Track.
Although premature, the barn already is comparing Princess to prior greats like Horse of the Year Lexie Lou! I am hearing that her look and temperament are very similar to Lexie, although Princess has a calmer demeanour. How exciting is it to hear that?
She’s due for a clipping of her winter coat tomorrow, so we’re waiting anxiously to see her new spring look!
And in the meantime, we hope her Dad (John Ross) gets well soon!
See some Snaps of Princess from earlier today:
Also, see Princess‘ buddies Yoda Man (Ricky Browne riding) + Smart Catomine (Katy Morrison riding) train together on the new Tapeta surface: