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Toronto Ont.June 22 2017.Woodbine Racetrack. Queen’s Plate contender Spirit of Caledon exercise rider Briar Perkins,trainer Pat Parente.WEG/michael burns phot





Just a week before the Queen’s Plate Festival begins in earnest (things kick off Wednesday with the Plate breakfast and post position draw), a 2yo filly by the name of DREAM IT IS won the My Dear Stakes at Woodbine, her name encapsulating  the feeling that all horse owners have. Some get a chance to go for the really big dream next Sunday.

A field of 12 is expected to be entered on Wednesday and the finishing touches are being put on the guys and gals who top the Canadian crop of 3-year-olds.

Two fillies, 4 colts and 6 geldings are on the list of entrants:


GUY CABALLERO – Michael Burns photo


Aurora Way / Julien Leparoux / Stu Simon / Chiefswood Stable

***Just one career race, it was a goody, 81 Beyer Figure, jock won last year’s Plate

Channel Maker / Rafael Hernandez / Bill Mott / Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, Wachtel Stable & Gary Barber

** One win, Vandal S. turf sprint at 2, but  eager-running gelding 2nd in ‘open’ Marine , 91 Beyer Figure

Guy Caballero / Jose Ortiz / Catherine Day Phillips / Sean & Dorothy Fitzhenry

** Plate Trial hero is on the rise, 84 Beyer Figure, 1 length separated top 3 in Trial

Holy Helena / Luis Contreras / James Jerkens / Stronach Stables

** Oaks winner with 90 Beyer, same sire as Plate winner Shaman Ghost
Inflexibility / Javier Castellano / Chad Brown / Klaravich Stables, Inc. & William H. Lawrence

*** one of 2 fillies, held in high regard, messy trip in Oaks, Castellano in town to ride
King and His Court / Gary Boulanger / Mark Casse / Wachtel Stable & Gary Barber

**Coronation Futurity must buck that jinx, hard working gelding has been steady

Malibu Secret / Alan Garcia / Malcolm Pierce / Sam-Son Farm

***Fair 3rd in Marine by 5 lengths behind Channel Maker
Megagray / Jesse Campbell / Mike Keogh / Gustav Schickedanz

** 4th in Marine behind Malibu Secret/Channel Maker

Spirit of Caledon / Jerome Lermyte / Pat Parente / Copper Water Thoroughbred Company Ltd., Centennial Farms (Niagara) Inc. & Pat Parente

** $25,000 supplement fee will be due if entered; son of Plate winner Mike Fox; $1,500 weanlong purchase by Kathy Biers, RNA as yearling $16,000; 72 Beyer when behind Watch Me Strut

State of Honor / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse / Conrad Farms

**Classy, big guy  has 1 win and tends to lead and then lose ground; good try in Trial, 84 Beyer

Tiz a Slam / Eurico Da Silva / Roger Attfield / Chiefswood Stable

** Trial outing was a bit concerning as he could not maintain his stride around the last turn; Attfield goes for 9 Plates
Watch Me Strut / David Moran / Catherine Day Phillips / Kingfield Racing Stable, Ltd. & George Philip Ledson

**76 Beyer from allowance win




Guy Caballero and Watch Me Strut reside in adjacent stalls in the Catherine Day Phillips barn, which will enable them to discuss strategy heading into the July 2, $1-million Queen’s Plate.

Their brainstorming could be all for naught, however.

“They have similar styles,” said Day Phillips, who trains Guy Caballero for Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry and Watch Me Strut for her Kingfield Racing Stable and George Ledson. “They’re relaxed early, and come with a late kick. It’s maybe a question of who kicks better.”

Guy Caballero and Watch Me Strut also have kept company in the mornings on several occasions, including Saturday when they breezed five furlongs on the main track along with stablemate Split My Pants.

Split My Pants, a maiden winner last time out, scooted out to about a five-length lead under assistant trainer Candice Dixon with Watch Me Strut tracking from second under jockey David Moran and Guy Caballero another couple of lengths back under exercise rider Roy Garcia.

The three finished up together with Guy Caballero clocked in :59.80 and Watch Me Strut and Split My Pants in 1:01.

Day Phillips was pleased with the exercise and Moran and Garcia also spoke well of their mounts.

“You couldn’t ask for a better breeze, coming into a race like this, and he galloped out strong,” said Moran, who was aboard Watch Me Strut for the first time and has the call for the Queen’s Plate.

“He was very good,” said Garcia. “He’s worked for me regularly. He’s in good order.”

Guy Caballero is coming off a 20-1 score as the longest shot of six in the 1 1/8 mile Plate Trial here June 11 while Watch Me Strut rallied from last in a field of nine at almost 13-1 one week earlier to annex his first allowance condition in his first try as far as 1 1/16 miles.

Rafael Hernandez rode Guy Caballero in the Plate Trial but is sticking with Marine stakes runner-up Channel Maker for the Queen’s Plate and Day Phillips has recruited an interesting replacement in New York-based Jose Ortiz.

It looks to be all systems go for Spirit of Caledon, who breezed five furlongs in :59.40 on the main track under jockey Jerome Lermyte here Saturday and is scheduled to be supplemented to the Queen’s Plate at a cost of $25,000.

“It was perfect, just what we wanted,” said trainer and part-owner Pat Parente, who said he caught Spirit of Caledon galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 and pulling up through seven furlongs in 1:25.60. “He’s coming into the race well.”

Lermyte and Parente would be participating in their first Queen’s Plates.

Spirit of Caledon, who finished third last time out behind Watch Me Strut, would have to be supplemented to the Queen’s Plate at a cost of $25,000.

The Ontario-bred gelding has been racing for Chad Joe’s Copper Water Thoroughbred Company Ltd. and Parente but Dominic DiLalla’s Centennial Farms (Niagara) Inc. purchased a 25 percent interest earlier this week. Joe retains 50 percent and Parente the remainder.



Megagray, a son of Hall of Fame Canadian champion Langfuhr, has long been pointed towards a date in the Queen’s Plate starting gate. He’ll get his chance at racing glory on July 2.

He won’t be the post-time favourite for this edition of the Gallop for the Guineas, but Megagray could be sitting on a career performance in the 1 ¼-mile classic next Sunday.

It doesn’t hurt his chances when you take note of his connections’ serious Plate cred: owner Gus Schickedanz and trainer Mike Keogh each have two Plate scores, while jockey Jesse Campbell has one.

“We’ve planned (having Megagray run in the Plate) for a long time,” said trainer Mike Keogh, who won the race in 1999 with Woodcarver and in 2003 with Triple Crown champ Wando, both for Schickedanz. “He hasn’t run many races, but he’s coming into the race in great shape.”

Megagray’s career bow came last August, a seventh-place finish in a seven-furlong turf tilt over the Toronto oval’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

But, not to worry…‘Gray’ skies were about to clear up.

Next time out, the Ontario-bred notched a 2 ¼-length victory, at 16-1, over 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine Tapeta. Bumped in early stretch, Megagray rallied from fourth to break his maiden at 16-1.

“He kind of made his own hole coming home,” recalled Keogh. “He was in tight, but found his way through and got it done. It was quite impressive to watch him do that.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news in the aftermath of the win.

“He chipped his ankle,” noted Keogh. “It’s something that we noticed the next day and it was taken care of very quickly after that.”

So, while it wasn’t the preferred path to get him to the Plate, Keogh is happy with how his three-year-old is coming into the biggest race of his career to date.

“I don’t think the 1 ¼-mile distance is an issue,” he said. “He’s doing well and hopefully, he comes up with a big effort.”

Megagray will have once again have Campbell – aboard for all four starts – in the irons. The Woodbine-based Ohio native partnered Midnight Aria to a Plate win in 2013.




As for DREAM IT IS, the Kentucky bred by Shackleford posted a hefty 84 Beyer Figure in winning the My Dear.

An impressive winner of her 4 1/2-furlong debut here May 27, lived up to her notices with a smashing victory in Saturday’s $100,000 stake at 5 furlongs.

At the conclusion of the open five-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies, Dream It Is was 4 ¾ lengths in front with jockey Luis Contreras enjoying an armchair ride.

“She did it pretty easy,” said Contreras, who was recording his fifth stakes win of the meeting aboard Dream It Is. “Last time she broke really sharp and went to the lead. This time I got her to relax a little bit. It’s great to ride horses like this.”

Obsolete, who was coming off a first-out score at Indiana Downs, was sent off at 38-1 but quickly assumed command through an opening quarter in :22.10. Dream It is had taken up the chase immediately, however, and the 8-5 favorite appeared to be on cruise control as she moved to the lead around the final turn.

It was all over but the shouting when they turned for home as Dream It Is opened up and was in front by 4 ½ lengths through a half-mile in :45.19 en route to a final clocking of :57.74. Wild and Funny, very well bet at 3-1 in her first start, was next-to-last in the early going but being to hit her stride heading into the final turn and rallied four-wide into the stretch en route to second money. Obsolete, racing on the rail throughout, held for third, another three-quarters of a length behind the winner but three lengths before the fourth-place finisher.

Glamanation made a menacing move at the leader in midstretch but had no more to offer. She did manage to hold fourth money by a head over Presage, a Presque Isle Downs shipper. Josephine, Jamaica Me Home, and Lounge Act, the 9-2 third choice while invading from Kentucky, completed the order of finish. Gossip Isle, a first-time starter who was attracting support at 7-1, dropped rider Eurico Rosa da Silva before the start and was scratched.

Barbara Minshall, who trains the Kentucky-bred Dream It Is for Adam Hudson’s Hoolie Racing Stable LLC, had predicted another big effort from her charge and was not disappointed.

“It’s funny, she changes her leads every morning working but when she gets in a race she’s so focused,” said Minshall. “She’s such a good-minded horse. She’s unflappable.”

Dream It is returned $5.20, $3.00 and $2.70 and topped a 7-1 exacta with Wild and Funny ($3.90, $4.00) worth $21.60. The 7-1-6 trifecta with Obsolete ($7.20) paid $368.40 and the 7-1-6-9 superfecta ending with Glamanation was worth $848.65 for $1.



GEORGE BIGLIARDI, a longtime owner and breeder at Woodbine, has had back-to-back wins now with his filly OFELIA GIRL, named after another filly Bigliardi owned years ago. Trained by David Bell, Ofelia Girl, by Exhi, rallied from well back off a strong pace to win by a head over Sweet City Woman in this $10,000 claiming race for non-winners of 2.

Race 2 – TWO MANY EGBERTS had been hinting strongly all spring and he got a win in this off-the-turf starter allowance for owner Colleen Beaumier. The stakes winning 6yo, a $10,000 claim last year, had plenty of trouble in 2 of his 3 races this year, so it was nice to dee the big guy power on to victory under Slade Callaghan. Young trainer Preston Ferris was winning for the 2nd time this year from 15 starters.

Race 3 – GOOD LOOKING LEO, owned by Trinity Racing Stables and running for $5,000 claiming,, the new low level offered at Woodbine, won for the 4th time in his career in this sprint. Trained by Norm McKnight, who has not only been winning lots of races but has been starting dozens each week, Good Looking Leo was making his 3rd start of the year. Eurico da Silva has a 47% win rate with the McKnight stable in the last 2 seasons.

race 4 – SEIZE THE BAY (SPENCER) edged Pat Daddy to win this off the turf event for $20,000 claiming. Owned and bred by Ericka Rusnak, Seize the Bay has been coming around this year as a 4-year-old and he ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 4/5 on the Tapeta, good for a career best 73 Beyer Figure. He is 3 for 21 in his career and is a son of Sligo Bay from Stormin Wife.

Race 5 – NEVER WORN has a most unusual galloping stride, high and scrambly, but he makes it work. This guy gets full marks for winning a maiden race on Friday – again, he won his maiden 2 starts ago but was disqualified.
The busy son of Where’s the Ring ran a clunker after that but then put it all together to get an official win for $10,000 claiming. Randy Thompson owns and trains the 4yo who has had 6 races this year and 20 career starts.
Skye Chernetz rode the winner.

Race 6- SAN NICOLA STORM had a superior steer from her rider Luis Contreras and she won by a head in this $40,000 claiming sprint which was off the grass. The 8 to 1 shot is owned by breeder Joe Pirone and trained by Jennifer Shafer who is 3 for 13 at the meeting already.

Race 7 – Beautiful and classy TESSERON, raced through age 7 by Donver Stable, has a new home now after his win on Friday for $16,000. The smooth striding son of Tapit was plunging in class for his 22nd career race, looking for his first win in a couple of season. He rallied inside after a shrewd ride by Emma-Jayne Wilsin. His new owner is Kirk Sutherland and his new trainer is Harold Ladouceur.

Race 8 – TALE OF RONIN is the 8th win in 10 races for owner and trainer Alex Patykewich. This great gelding is now owned by David Rogers and trained by reade Baker as he was claimed from this win for $20,000. Omar moreno rode the grey 3yo.




Press Release – Talkin’ Horse Racing Web Series


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