#HORSERACING: LEXIE LOU SET TO MAKE 2015 COMEBACK AT WOODBINE RACETRACK
“With all due respect sir, no.”, I said to the part-Owner of a horse up for Canadian Horse of the Year this April, just one day before the 2015 racing season began at Woodbine Racetrack. It was the Sovereign Awards, honouring the year’s best across Canada and it was this gentleman’s first time ever at the prestigious affair. He wanted an honest answer from me if his horse would win the coveted title and that I gave him. Although his horse in all fairness was and is very talented, there would be no defeating the opposition. Not on the track, not at the ballot box.
We’re into the halfway-mark of the racing season and the burning question on the minds of many racing fans is, “Where is Lexie Lou?”. The four-year-old filly had a remarkable campaign in 2014 winning unanimously Horse of the Year voting that night. The $1-million Queen’s Plate? Check. The Woodbine Oaks? Check. These are two of the country’s most important races and she won both with ease en route to padding her bankroll with $1.5 million.
In Horse Racing, we all love a good Cinderella story and a Cinderella story Lexie Lou is, purchased in 2011 as a yearling for just $5,000 by local veteran Owner/Trainer John Ross, who campaigned her to much success through April 2014. Although pedigree and training programs are telling indicators in the success of a Racehorse, just as important in the sport is the unknown, luck. It is a sport of mobility – literally and figuratively. Success can come as quickly for some as it goes and that extends to everyone from the Bettors to the Owners. Just ask Perry Martin and Steven Coburn, whom for a pittance of $8,000 purchased an unsuspecting filly in 2009, birthing eventual Superstar California Chrome, who has banked $6.3 million in earnings. Let’s not forget the 30% ownership sold to Taylor Made Farm in advance of plans eventually to retire him as a stallion, where millions more are expected to be made through breeding.
Lexie Lou‘s success under John Ross went noticed. She was game for a fight every time and always was in the thick of things. Hollywood heavyweight Producer Gary Barber (G.I. Joe, Invictus, Wanted, Bruce Almighty) purchased her privately for what then seemed like a sizable sum. She would be handled by the Team of seven-time Sovereign Award winning Trainer, Mark Casse who thanked Ross at the Sovereign Awards for all the work he and his Team put into shaping Lexie Lou‘s career. Despite his domination of Canadian Racing, the Queen’s Plate remained illusive and Lexie Lou gave him that overdue accomplishment, moving him to tears in a post-race interview seen around the world. The filly’s success story has been a remarkable one and she’s proven no matter the competition, she is a force to be reckoned with – north and south of the border. In November 2014’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar Racetrack in California, the brazen Canadian filly tackled Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, bet heavily and just shy of defeating him in second.
Let’s step back for a second and look at the big picture here. An Ontario-bred filly bought originally for just $5,000 facing the eventual North American Horse of the Year, and almost winning the race. This is a greater feat than it might suggest in print. Hardly lauded enough, Lexie Lou should be a Poster Girl for the sport at large. She should be celebrated as an inspiration for fans young and old, male or female – regardless of upbringing – that we all can be a better version of ourselves with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work. I mean, who doesn’t identify with that? This is the core essence of being a North American, am I right?
A quick visit to Woodbine‘s Stables Area to see the Superfilly who was in vacation mode in Ocala, Florida until only recently, had me both excited and hesitant. Mark Casse himself has stated that she isn’t particularly a gentle filly, but notes that many great fillies carry that trait. Horse Racing in addition to being a money-making leisure to fans, is a high-stakes business for those on the backstretch, a juxtaposition of toughness to the surreal beauty of witnessing these animals race under the vibrant rainbow of silks their jockeys sport.
For her four-year-old campaign, Lexie Lou has been paired with a new groom (caretaker) Chivon, who praises her star filly as being anything but aggressive despite her having developed a bit of a reputation in the past. A second set of eyes (mine) would confirm this. Upon walking over to her stall, Lexie Lou was very preoccupied with checking-in on her neighbour through a barred window, a two-year-old filly named Conquest Soprano. I learned that Lexie Lou has always been a big sister in the Casse barn, which is overseen by Assistants Kathryn Sullivan and David Adams here in Toronto. Last year, she was best friends with a younger filly named Conquest So True and was protective of her too.
Although not all horses love Scotch Mints, she was enthused and helped herself to a few out of my palm, later coming back for seconds… and thirds, before going back to check on her friend next-door. And somewhere amidst the sugar rush, she planted an equine kiss on my cheek. It is hard to believe such a monster on the track was such a beauty in-person. I despise the term “almond eyes” because it is such a blanket term, but if it could be applied to anyone, it would be Lexie Lou as her enchanting, deep-set eyes are soulful and pensive. Her face feminine and graceful, with a bold white marking similar to that of her sire (father), Sligo Bay. A stunning animal.
Lexie Lou will make her return to the track soon. Although originally scheduled to make her return on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at Woodbine, an eye condition is keeping her out of the race. More to come on when the Queen shall return and we will be sure to let you know so you can witness greatness!
Don’t forget to snap a Selfie at Woodbine with the Hashtag #OffToTheRaces and Tweet at @WoodbineRacing to qualify for a prize of $1,000!
Some Photos of Lexie Lou over the years:
Lexie Lou, Winter 2013
Trainer Mark Casse plants a kiss on Lexie Lou, Queen’s Plate 2014
Media frenzy after Lexie Lou wins the 2014 Queen’s Plate
Lexie Lou and her rider Patrick Husbands, Queen’s Plate 2014
Lexie Lou wins the 2014 Wonder Where Stakes, her first race on the turf
Lexie Lou in-training, July 2015
Lexie Lou mugs for the camera with her Exercise Rider Jason, July 2015
Lexie Lou and Patrick Husbands as Lego in a 2015 Queen’s Plate Promo
Lexie Lou back at home, August 2015
Mr. Will + Lexie Lou:
To learn more about Woodbine Racetrack, including how to get there, click here.
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong)
This post was created in partnership with Woodbine Racetrack.
#SPOTTED: GARY BARBER IN TORONTO AT WOODBINE RACETRACK
Invictus, Shanghai Noon, Skyfall, Footloose, The Tourist, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, RoboCop, 21 Jump Street, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. If you’ve seen any of these Films, chances are, you know the work of Gary Barber. The American Film Producer and CEO/Chairman of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer of South African origins, certainly is a respected entity also in the World of Horse Racing too with a number of top-tier Competitors in his Stable under the care of Trainer Mark Casse at Woodbine Racetack in Toronto.
Just last month, he won the most important race in the Country with his star filly, Lexie Lou whom he purchased only earlier this year for what seems like a bargain price of $400k. Although Barber was unable to attend that Race – the Queen’s Plate – he certainly made up for it in a big way yesterday at Woodbine Racetrack. Two of his Stable Stars, the vastly-improved Kaigun and Lexie Lou swept the two Feature Races of the day, the Grade II Play the King Stakes and also the Wonder Where Stakes, respectively.
We had the amazing opportunity of meeting Barber, who was in great spirits, stopping to pose for Photos on the Turf Course for Track Photographer Mike Burns, as Assistant Trainer Katherine Sullivan showed him around the facilities. He even gave me a fist-bump after Lexie Lou‘s Victory, thanking me for my support!
We of course are a huge Fan of Barber and Lexie Lou!
See her latest win below:
Our Snap with Barber:
See our Snap (thanks Julie Wright for this!) with Lexie Lou and Assistant Trainer David Adams:
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong | Video credit: Woodbine Entertainment Group)