True to tradition, we present to you our A YEAR IN HORSES 2018 Video. Annually at the end of the Woodbine racing season, we compile our favourite moments of people and horses at the races to commemorate the year.
This year we chose to pair our highlights with one of our favourite tracks, ONE KISS by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa. The song is a celebration of falling in love and that is exactly what we do year after year. We never get sick of this, our favourite sport! It’s always been about the people, the passion and the horses for us rather than hitting a Jackpot Hi-5.
The year was marked by Wonder Gadot‘s reign as the Queen of Canadian Racing and veterans shining like Pink Lloyd, Pumpkin Rumble, Mr. Havercamp, Kingsport and Tiz a Slam. We saw also the rise of several recent additions to the jockey colony like Jerome Lermyte and Kazushi Kimura. 2018 may have been a divisive year with many getting their moment to shine and split opinions, but there certainly were a lot of memories to capture. We take you right from the start of the season, all the way to Churchill Downs at the Breeders’ Cup, right to the end of the Woodbine meet.
While we had to scale back our visits slightly this year due to various commitments and Billy’s health issues – he is the only thing that could keep us from the races – we still were very much there throughout the year. Hence when people ask me “Where have you been?”, honestly I never left! And here’s the proof.
Hot of the press! An official date has been confirmed for the 2019 QUEEN’S PLATE RACING FESTIVAL, culminating in the North America’s most historic horse race. The Festival is a celebration of tradition, fashion, music, food and drink and is sure to be a blast!
It runs Friday, June 28, 2019 through Saturday, June 29, 2019 and you can bet we’ll be there!
To have one racehorse named after you is a dream, but for this to happen twice has me feeling like Bob Baffert winning his second Triple Crown!
While my schedule was super-busy during TIFF, it was almost impossible not to make a trip north of the City to see adorable MR WILL. Those of you following on Social Media will know how overjoyed we were to hear that a colt named MR WILL would be going through the sales ring at the 2018 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society Premier Yearling Sale last month. Bred by Northern Dawn Stable (Sherry McLean and Bob Craig), the colt after multiple bids went to owner/trainer Michelle Love and her husband Rob, who has the all-important job of Outrider at Woodbine Racetrack, keeping horses, horsepeople and fans safe. Once again, we are so touched by the Horse Racing community’s love. I am so grateful and thrilled about what lies ahead!
While we were saddened that our dear Princess (@APicbymrwill) had to be retired prematurely earlier this year, this gives us something to be really excited about. We still try to visit her every chance we can and we find comfort knowing that she is under the amazing care of Emily Fisher. She looks rather amazing and continues to be spoiled like she deserves. A bonus is that she’s only about ten minutes away from MR WILL. Emily is dealing with her beloved stallion Don’s Folly, who is nursing an injury right now so we wish her and Don all the best in his recovery.
After driving past their home a few times (GPS only gets you so far in the country!) and finally finding it, I was ever anxious to meet my adorable new namesake. Rob told me, “I thought that might’ve been you!” seeing a little red Acura ILX driving back and forth like a lost soul. Michelle led me into her barn, which houses Rob‘s beloved pony Grouch, a handsome gray who is a great ambassador for Woodbine, having appeared at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square to promote the sport. Michelle also has there a sweet filly she bought at the sale by red-hot freshman stallion, Souper Speedy. Although she warned me that MR WILL might bite (just like his namesake!) being the colt that he is, he was on his best behaviour, reaching over to give me a peck. He’s even getting the hang of Selfies and I’m sure we’ll be giving him lots of practice! The colt definitely loves an audience and I was so impressed watching him do laps around his pen as both Michelle and Rob each took turns on him. He is under amazing guidance and while many other yearlings are taking their time getting ready, this boy already is at work and a true professional about it. It also helps that he was prepped well entering the sale, making Michelle‘s job a lot easier.
MR WILL knows all about mini carrots already, surprising Michelle even! 🥕
See some Snaps:
Looking at his pedigree, I have every reason to expect that MR WILL should excel on the turf. He is by 2008 Queen’s Plate winner Not Bourbon who has some deep bloodlines tracing back to the great Northern Dancer and Secretariat, the latter whom he actually resembles with his chestnut coat and linear white blaze. He also has some stamina and turf breeding on his mom, Wila Brew‘s side. He is her first foal and she was a winner at Woodbine back in 2015 for trainer Dave Cotey, a man who knows his bloodstock having picked-out Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird on whom the Film 50-to-1 is based. I even remember seeing MR WILL‘s great-grandmother Willamar race at Woodbine when I was a kid and she was remarkably fast, setting a course record. Tons of history there.
Michelle and Rob also are notable breeders, having bred stakes winner CLICKITY CLACK, who is one of the best three-year-old fillies on Woodbine’s grounds.
We’ll try to keep you all updated on our boy’s progress without having to crash at Michelle and Rob‘s all the time. Too tempting to just show up at their home!! We’ve created a Twitter and Instagram for MR WILL, so please be following his exciting story as he transforms into a star of tomorrow!
Just as TIFF ’18 winds-down, one of the biggest weekends in Horse Racing in Canada took place this past weekend at Woodbine Racetrack, including the Grade I $800k RICOH WOODBINE MILE, plus two Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re-In races, the Grade I Natalma and Grade II Summer Stakes. The trio of races are seen as springboards to Horse Racing’s championship days, the Breeders’ Cup to be held this November at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Saturday’s headlining Ricoh Mile proved a thrilling race, running deep in quality and class. Ultimately it would be former Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner OSCAR PERFORMANCE who would deliver that Academy gold in the one-mile race on the turf. The four-year-old son of top stallion Kitten’s Joy trained by Brian Lynch, would boost his earnings to $2.34 million for owner Amerman Racing LLC, stopping the clock at 1:33.1, winning by 1 1/2 lengths under red-hot U.S.-based jockey Jose Ortiz. Bettors were reward $7.20 to a $2.00 bet.
Giving the victor a fight for his money was Woodbine-based hero MR HAVERCAMP, finishing in second spot for owners Sean & Dorothy Fitzhenry and trainer Catherine Day Phillips. Eurico Da Silva was aboard the brave performance, for the same connections as 2018 Woodbine Oaks winner DIXIE MOON. British invader STORMY ANTARCTIC (GB) took third spot for Mr. P.K. Siu and trainer Ed Walker.
Mr Havercamp gives his connections a thrill
Watch the race here:
Flashy and well-regarded European invader Lord Glitters (FR) placed sixth
Frank Stronach-owned post-time favourite Delta Prince finished a credible fourth
The excitement continued into Sunday with the Grade I Natalma Stakes highlighting the day. The one-mile turf race for fillies has spawned several champions including Alywow, Dance Smartly, Arravale, Wavering Girl, Kirby’s Song, Ginger Gold and Victory to Victory. This year’s Queen’s Plate champion Wonder Gadot finished third in the race last year.
The race was taken by British import, LA PELOSA (IRE), an Irish-bred daughter of Dandy Man, owned by international racing giant, Godolphin. Trained by Charles Appleby and ridden by Englishman Jamie Spencer, the filly kicked home a length clear of the field in a time of 1:33.7, less than a click slower than much more seasoned veterans in the Woodbine Mile one day prior. Bettors were rewarded with a return of $8.50 to a $2.00 bet. Woodbine-based filly MY GAL BETTY was an impressive second as the post-time favourite for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield, her chances compromised by a wide run. Another promising local filly BOLD SCRIPT would run third. The winner is expected to be Kentucky-bound early November for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
La Pelosa (IRE) and her connections, including jockey Jamie Spencer
Top local filly My Gal Betty, a game second
See the race:
The boys would not be outshone as exciting Chad Brown trainee FOG OF WAR would score in the Summer Stakes by 3/4 of a length under jockey Javier Castellano, defeating a game WAR OF WILL, who comes from the barn of leading trainer Mark Casse. The winner paid $4.20 on a $2.00 bet and is owned by Peter M. Brant, finishing in a time of 1:33.9, just marginally slower than the fillies earlier in the Natalma. The top two finishers are by in-demand stallion WAR FRONT, whose stud fee stands at $250k U.S. Both colts can be expected to square-off again in the Breeders’ CupJuvenile Turf. Local colt NASHTRICK, trained by Josie Carroll, finished third.
Fog of War
War of Will
Avie’s Flatter would finish fourth
See the race:
The Breeders’ Cup takes place November 2-3, 2018. Catch it on TSN in Canada.
All photography taken on the NIKON D3400.
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong/Woodbine Entertainment Group/TSN)
Goodbyes are always a hard thing. Amidst all the bustle of the Queen’s Plate Festival this past weekend, we sent-off our dear Princess, A PIC BY MRWILL to begin her new life outside the Racetrack.
Some of you might remember Emily Fisher (@EmiFisher) who helped take care of Princess late in her two-year-old season. We played dress-up for Halloween together! Back then, she befriended Miss Emily‘s star athlete, multiple stakes winner Don’s Folly (Dons_Folly on Facebook), who went on to be crowned 2015 & 2016 Royal Winter Fair Thoroughbred Stallion Grand Champion as an eventer.
Princess and Miss Emily, Halloween 2016
After announcing her retirement in May, Miss Emily offered kindly to take ownership of Princess right away after a few options were examined for her aftercare. She has been a daily part of Princess‘ day, visiting her often in-between runs in her work day on the backstretch at Woodbine, coming with cuddles and treats. We know that Princess will be living her best life possible and be cared for with the special attention and love she deserves. She won’t be far from Woodbine, which makes it easier for us to visit her and we love this.
Miss Emily says: “I am beyond excited to have Princess join our family, I cannot thank John and Cathy enough for entrusting me with her rehabilitation and her life after racing. She has had a few setbacks, but I believe that she has a bright future ahead of her and I can’t wait to see what this girl is capable of! We have a long road ahead of us but it is looking bright. She handled her move so well and has settled into her new home. I have nothing but positive thoughts about how she will come out of this. There will be big things in this Princess’ future.”.
Motherhood definitely is in the books next for Princess after she gets the rest of the year to focus on healing, although her being developed into an eventer is a possibility too given that she has the perfect composition and demeanour for it. Whatever path fate leads her, we are thrilled for it and we will be there for her every step of the way with all our support.
Don’s Folly and Miss Emily
We’ve also expressed interest in sharing some of the future breeding costs together with Cathy, Princess’ previous Co-Owner, to pair her with an Ontario stallion. Believe me, we could go on all day about who would make the perfect father – the possibilities are infinite! Of course, Don’s Folly also is looking to establish himself as an Ontario stallion too and we would be happy too to see Princess be the mother of his first foal. There are several options, but all this is contingent on Princess‘ recovery and we place her wellness first.
We had one last hurrah at Woodbine with Princess this weekend and she was thrilled to get a visit from one of her biggest fans, Sean(@SPNation74) who was visiting from Massachussetts for the Queen’s Plate Festival.
Sean x Princess:
We also are thrilled for Princess‘ family at the John Ross barn and Aheadbyacentury on their fantastic second-place finish in the Queen’s Plate. He is all business and they all worked so hard for this!
See some Snaps of Princess’ goodbye to Woodbine. She got the quick go-ahead from Doctor Pete and boarded the truck like a true professional. Miss Emily and her friend Miss Chelsea came ready with Princess’ favourite haynet and some aromatherapy fly spray to keep those flies at bay.
While we’ll miss seeing Princess in her stall at Woodbine, this is only the beginning of forever for Princess and we are excited for her! We got so choked-up seeing her drive away.
Miss Emily checked-in with us last night to let us know that Princess has settled in nicely at her new home, “She’s great! She has settled in like a champ, cleaning-up her feed tub no problem. She had a sponge bath yesterday and will probably get another one today!”. That’s our Princess!
The party of the Summer for us always has been the Queen’s Plate. Now in its 159th edition, the historic $1 million affair brings together Canada’s best with a distinction of being the most historic horse race in North America. Social circles collided at the bash, now a three-day Festival at Woodbine Racetrack, as Horse Racing reunited once again with fashion, cocktails and entertainment, highlighted by a headlining performance by Country star Brad Paisley on Festival Friday and Sam Roberts Band following the big race Saturday. Betting was an all-time high tallying-in at $14,625,756, surpassing a 2017 record, proving that the Queen’s Plate is here to stay.
The big race itself went to superfilly WONDER GADOT, who overcame the opposition with ease for her owner Gary Barber, former Chairman and CEO of MGM Entertainment. He last won the Queen’s Plate in 2014 with another brilliant filly, Lexie Lou. Ridden by U.S.-based John Velasquez and trained by reigning champion Mark Casse and his team led at Woodbine by David Adams and Kathryn Sullivan, she was crowned top two-year-old filly in the land this April before almost winning the prestigious Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in a dramatic finish. The daughter of Medaglio d’Oro named after Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, boosted her career earnings just shy of the $1.2 million-mark and she was bred by Toronto’s David Anderson of Anderson Farms. A box office smash just like her namesake! Superheroes all need their gear and it is said that the addition of blinkers helped the filly focus and she soared the skies.
The Tragically Hip fans would be delighted that John Ross co-owned trainee and hit namesake Aheadbyacentury, got up second for newcomer co-owners Jack of Hearts Racing, followed bysecond runner-up Cooler Mike and hisowner/trainer Nick Nosowenko.
Wonder Gadot likely is to be seen next at Fort Erie RacetrackTuesday, July 24, 2018 in the Prince of Wales Stakes, before heading possibly to Saratoga for the Alabama Stakes. Her win in the Queen’s Plate secures her a spot at Horse Racing’s championship days, the Breeders’ Cup, this fall at Churchill Downs with this now being considered a qualifying “win and you’re in” race.
2018 continues to be Barber‘s year. He recently was in the news reaching a $260 million settlement with his former employer and he won another stake on Festival Sunday, the $225k Bison City Stakes with 2016 CTHS Premier Yearling Sale topper SAFE TO SAY. The filly is co-owned by Windway Farms (Jeffrey and Annabelle Begg), giving French jockey Jerome Lermyte his first stake win locally. Casse, who trains the filly, kicked-off his string of stakes scores on Festival Saturday in the Charlie Barley Stakes with John Oxley/My Meadowview LLC-owned RIDE A COMET.
Safe to Say
Other big winners this weekend at the Queen’s Plate Festival include Brad Cox trainee LONG ON VALUE who also earned a berth at the Breeders’ Cup with a win in the Highlander Stakes; the impressive Chad Brown mare SANTA MONICA(GB) powering through the heat in the Dance Smartly Stakes to deny her stablemate, Canadian-bred INFLEXIBILITY; DELTA PRINCE, a half-brother to the late and great Royal Delta won the King Edward for Frank Stronach; TIZ A SLAM, a former Queen’s Plate entrant, upset the Dominion Day Stakes; SILENT SONET roared in the Zadracarta Stakes; and FAIRY HILL, a $25k claim for Bruno Schickendanz by trainer Norm McKnight, sprinkled some magic and won the Lady Angela Stakes on Festival Friday.
See some Snaps:
Santa Monica (GB)
Long on Value
Frank Stronach & Delta Prince
Ride a Comet
Tiz a Slam
Entertainment and Fashion also were front and center at the Queen’s Plate Festival. Bold type names attending included fix-it gurus Mike Holmes and Mike Holmes Jr., beauty queen and popular horse racing personality Acacia Courtney, Letterkenny stars Andrew Herr and Nathan Dales, County singer Natasha Zimbarro, The Umbrella Academy star Tom Hopper, media personalities Jennifer Valentyne, Sangita Patel and Rick Campanelli, plus members of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and more. Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell once again too graced us with her presence.
See more below:
Elizabeth Dowdeswell & Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson
Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Simoni Lawrence
Woodbine’s Tony Gattellaro and Phil Forde with the Cast of Letterkenny
Mike Holmes and Mike Holmes Jr.
And let’s not forget the fashion! Bri Mott and Fashion at the Races once again were at the Queen’s Plate engaging attendees to show-off their #QP18style!
Bri Mott of Fashion at the Races
Breeder/Owner Yvonne Schwabe
Best Friends, jockeys Florent Geroux & Jerome Lermyte
Impeccably-outfitted power owner Kenneth Ramsey & family, including grandson trainer Nolan, who now is based at Woodbine
Liliana Garcia & Cynthia Hernandez
Princess (@APicbymrwill) and I in our matchy Festival Friday outfits:
More #QP18 sights and vibes:
The official #QP18cocktail, the Royal Flush
Fresh off Wonder Gadot‘s victory blanket
We are thrilled to have featured the top two finishers in this year’s Queen’s Plate in our Webseries, MR. WILL’S PATH TO THE PLATE. We apologize the Series ended prematurely this season due to scheduling conflicts, but hope to bring you more in 2019.
Missed it this year? Follow @WoodbineTB on Twitter to stay up to date on all updates Woodbine and Queen’s Plate-related.
Want more? We’ve got a Facebook album full of #QP18. Click here to see!
What good is some sun on a weekend if it can’t be enjoyed right? We spotted some stars out and about this weekend including the hotly-buzzed Greenwood Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack, some returning back to work after a breather.
Our second home Woodbine Racetrack, was where it was at this past Saturday as Toronto’s A-List gathered under the sun trackside for cocktails, racing, music, fashion and fun at the Greenwood Stakes. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Vancouver’s Deighton Cup, the affair saw socalities abound including the likes of Suzanne Rogers, Glen Baxter (Fashion Television), Shadowhunters’ Dominic Sherwood, The Umbrella Academy‘s Jordan C. Robbins and more! Sherwood tells us he neither won or loss at the races, but does appear to know a thing or two having been to Royal Ascot in his native England.
We hope the bustling event which takes its inspiration from both RoyalAscot and the Kentucky Derby, will come back again soon!
See some Snaps. Hover cursor left and right below and click arrows to navigate slideshow:
Also don’t forget to check-out our Webseries with Woodbine Racetrack, MR. WILL’S PATH TO THE PLATE, as we near our favourite Festival of the Summer, the Queen’s Plate! Episodes are out every Thursday leading-up to the Festival and each week we meet a new Contender and the unsung heroes in their success stories!
Emmy Raver-Lampman already is a star of the stage having appeared on Broadway in Wicked and Hamilton. She has landed a high-profile gig as Allison in Netflix‘s upcoming Series The Umbrella Academy based on My Chemical Romance frontman GerardWay‘s Comic Books. While the Series isn’t due till 2019, it will continue to film till July in Toronto.
Three-time Grammy winner Ben Harper plays The Mod Club tonight in support of 14th Studio Disc No Mercy in this Land. The veteran Singer/Songwriter was all smiles arriving from L.A. with his Band and Crew.
We’ve had the pleasure of meeting Pablo Schreiber a few times now but it’s always nice seeing him, a class act. He returns to Toronto to begin work on season two of AMERICAN GODS after some delays. You know him as Pornstache from acclaimed Netflix Series Orange is the New Black, something which on paper seems unflattering but believe us, that is a good thing!
We have come so close to meeting Emily Browning a few times but we’re thrilled finally to get a Selfie with the talented Australian-born Actress. She filmed Pomepeii opposite Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) a few summers back and we missed her again when she promoted Legend alongside Tom Hardy at TIFF! While she was in a bit of a rush after waiting on all her luggage she was kind to stop for a rush of fans off her flight. Like Schreiber, she also stars in Series American Gods.
Taking place Saturday, May 26, 2018, the GREENWOOD STAKES is set to go off at Woodbine Racetrack. The Event brought to us by Parade Agency and the Social Concierge, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Deighton Cup. Highlights include art installations, mixologists, gourmet food, live music, lawn games, high fashion and of course, exciting horse races highlight the afternoon featuring ten races. Something vintage and classic for this Instagram generation.
The Greenwood Stakes pays homage to beloved Greenwood Raceway formerly in the City’s Beaches area. Expect plenty of seersucker suits, fascinators and Southern Belle inspiration. There even will be two $500 cash prizes for best-dressed!
We hope your 2018 has been going amazing so far! It’s about time we checked-in with our favourite Princess, A PIC BY MRWILL. After a very cozy winter up in Waterdown under the wonderful care of Miss Tasha, Princess has returned back to Woodbine at long last.
We felt her struggle seeing her at the farm, anxious to get outside and do some running. Seeing her out this past Sunday going for her first jog in quite some time made us incredibly happy. We saw her jump for joy as soon as she stepped onto that dirt training track. As you might remember, Princess spent the fall and winter nursing an injury following her first win last August at Woodbine. She has literally been on stall rest since then.
She hit the track at 10:30 AM under her new exercise rider Richard who actually was amazing to pick-up our cell phone and give it back to us after seeing we dropped it near the training track. What can we say? We were so overcome with Princess Power that we got careless!
Princess went for an easy jog and her Daddy John Ross will have her take her time getting ready for an eagerly-awaited 2018 campaign now. John was pleased with the jog and she did everything just right. There is no set date for the return as Princess will tell us when she’s ready. Meanwhile, she looks in great shape and it shouldn’t be long before she’s fit enough to race. She is so happy to reunite with her Caretaker, Errol and he keeps telling me “She’s gonna win first time! Just watch!”. Joining the Ross Family is Zach, whom Princess is seen with below.
We celebrated Princess‘ fourth birthday in February, her birthday falling on February 5th. Our friends Bailey(@Starting_Gate) visiting from California, Keith (@TripleDeadHeat), Julie (@RedDogCW),Coco and Billy all came out for the occasion marked by lots of dress-up for Princess, apples, cupcakes and affection! Princess knows her Godbrother Billy who is going through Chemotherapy right now, is giving it his all and as always gives him a big kiss when he visits…which he secretly loves!
We look forward to sharing more Princess updates with you as they come! In the meantime, remember to follow her on the following channels as she readies her 2018 debut:
It’s been a while since we’ve posted a Princess Diary, but on behalf of our dear filly A PIC BY MRWILL, we’d love to wish a Happy Holiday to you and your loved ones!
Princess along with her stablemates from the barn of John Ross, has been wintering out in Flamborough, Ontario under the amazing care of Miss Tasha and Mr. Clayton (seen below). It was a fantastic year for the Team who not only won the prestigious Prince of Wales Stakes with Cool Catomine, but nabbed also the top two-year-old race in Canada, the Coronation Futurity with Aheadbyacentury (also seen below). The latter is Florida-bound as he prepares for his Queen’s Plate Trail in 2018!
While Princess wintered in Florida last winter, she remains on stall rest healing from her injury and will be staying here until her training resumes in a couple months. She continues to grow and seemed well-adjusted, watching over her stablemates as the queen of her predominantly-male barn.
2017 was an amazing year where we not only saw Princess break through for the first time in a route race, but also great consistency from her bringing home a cheque six out of eight races!
Let’s re-live that special day in August again!
We’re excited to see Princess thrive in 2018 now that she finally is getting what this game is all about! We don’t believe she’s turning four already, which is like 20 in human years. Soon she’ll be a Woman!
Billy and I popped by along with some of our special friends to surprise her today with some festive cheer! She even got a new Teddy to snuggle with since she misses her Woodbine Teddy! 🐻 She missed Billy so much, showering him with kisses.
See some Snaps from today:
No matter where you are, may you be surrounded with love this Holiday. To all your wishes coming true in 2018!