The new HILL ‘N’ DALE FARM near Nobleton. ON – photo by Lorie Sikura









The Blood-Horse Daily story on trainer Brian Lynch quotes Brian has saying he will not have a string of horses at Woodbine this year. Lynch arrived at Woodbine in 2005 to train a string of horses for Stronach Stables following the passing of his boss Bobby Frankel. He had his own barn at Woodbine in 2006 and won the many big races including the Queen’s Plate in 2015 with Shaman Ghost.

Lynch scaled down his Canadian stable sharply in 2015  when limitations were put on immigration rules for workers in Canada.







The Keeneland January Horses of All Ages sale began on Monday and will go on through the week. Mares, weanlings, yearlings and horse of racing age fill the books.

With the new CTHS and HBPA Mare Purchase Program in place, there are plenty of Ontario horsepeople at Keeneland hoping to buy mares in foal. The mare must be 12-years-old or younger.

On Day 1, Ontario owner/consignor Richard Hogan, as agent purchased 15-year-old  STORMY VENUS, a Stormy Atlantic mare in foal to Commissioner for $18,000.





What horse or horseperson had the most impressive/successful racing season in Canada in 2016?

The question is certainly subjective and Sovereign Award voters have been challenged by it for years. With some 41 voters for this year’s awards, it is more important than ever to consider all aspects of a championship year.

Simply winning the most purse money does not warrant a champion. What horse dominated his or her division, no matter where they raced?

Voters, come at each division with an open mind and reward the truly deserving horses and horsepeople.

You can vote for any horse or horseperson but the ballot does narrow down the lists to the major players.

Recently I touched on the probable contenders for the horse divisions – here are some notes on who is in contention for the human categories:

JOCKEY – Hard to get past Eurico da Silva with his 202 wins at Woodbine and 21 stakes victories. The numbers are big and volume was on his side to be sure. Plenty of riders had super seasons – Jesse Campbell, Rafael Hernandez, Gary Boulanger, Rico Walcott (109 wins)  and many more.

TRAINER – On numbers, the Mark Casse stable ruled Canada again – 97 wins,  17 stakes wins, 5. 6 million in purses.

How about Greg Tracey who won 93 races out west with 100 less starters?  Mike DePaulo had a big year and trained Caren, the probably champion 3-year-old filly and possible Horse of the Year, Josie Carroll had a big year with Amis Gizmo and a solid 23% winning percentage and Norm McKnight had a career year.

OWNER – No standout in this category. CHIEFSWOOD STABLE had a good year with 21 wins and a couple of major stakes winners; CONQUEST STABLES won 28 races and $1.9 million to lead owners at Woodbine; and the Shot in the Dark, Duggan partnership out west had a 35% win rate with some notables stakes winners such as Blue Dancer.

BREEDER – Ivan Dalos should have been named Outstanding Breeder before this year.  In 2016 his 22 winners bred included 11 stakes wins – Conquest Vivi, Conquest Enfrocer, Amis Gizmo, and the list goes on. Yes there are powerhouses like Adena Springs,Sam-Son, Cheifswood, but Dalos once again deserves to win – this year he really should.

APPRENTICE JOCKEY – This is a category that probably needs to be deleted since there are simply not many apprentice riders across Canada.

The 3 main players this year appear to be Kayla Pizarro, Daniel Gopie and Aimee Auger.

**Remember – Outstanding Broodmare is a lifetime achievement award for a mare that has had a BLACK-TYPE top 3 finishers in 2016 and in a previous year.

Here is a division-by-division peek:

2-YEAR-OLD FILLY – It is difficult to say that whoever wins this year’s Champion 2yo filly Sovereign was the best of the year.

The major races in Ontario – the Princess Elizabeth, Mazarine and Natalma, were won by 3 different horses (Ghostly Presence, Gale Force and Victory to Victory) and the Mazarine winner Gale Force is not eligible for a Sovereign (not enough starts in Canada).

The Natalma is now listed as a Grade 1, not sure it was a Grade 1 field that Victory to Victory defeated in the grassy, 1 mile race but she will likely be voted champion in a weak category. There were plenty of nice locally-bred 2yo gals such as Cindervella, Ellan Vanin and Conquest Vivi and American-bred Let It Ride Mom, a stablemate of Victory to Victory,  is also a worthy contender.

2-YEAR-OLD COLT – The contenders here appear to be TIZ A SLAM, the CHiefswood Stable colt who won the Cup and Saucer on turf and also won on the Tapeta and a pair of Mark Casse trainees.

KING AND HIS COURT was an iron-horse even if he is just a baby. He was stakes placed twice for owner and trainer Alex Patykewich before the Gary barber and co. team landed and scooped up the son of Court Vision. He won the prestigious Coronation Futurity and Display Stakes and really had a remarkable, alebit not very flashy, campaign.

Golden Hawk won the Grey Stakes impressively after winning his maiden but then the unbeaten Tapit colt broke down in Kentucky and we did not get to see him again. The colt could win this award posthumously since his Grey win was very impressive but the ‘King’ was a blue-collar worker all year.

3-YEAR-OLD FILLY – CAREN. Robert Marzilli’s determined filly was one of the best racehorses in Canada all season long. Four straight stakes wins, including a Grade 3, three other stakes placings in 7 races in Canada. The Society’s Chairman filly, trained by Mike DePaulo, was amazing in 2016.

In any other year, BC-bred SNUGGLES would by champion. The Rosberg filly won every race by one in 6 tries (lost by a neck) and won the Grade 3 Ballerina at Hastings Park along other stakes races.

3-YEAR-OLD COLT – If you consider this a main track category and not grass, which is essentially the reason why grass categories were added to the awards, then AMIS GIZMO did pretty well in his division in 2016. He was an unlucky loser of the Queen’s Plate, but crushed in the Prince of Wales and Ontario Derby (Grade 3) and the Plate Trial.

CONQUEST ENFORCER will get votes since he won the Queenston at Woodbine on Tapeta, the Charlie Barley on grass and two turf stakes in the US including last weekend’s Mathis Mile at Santa Anita.

Canadian derby winner READY INTAGLIO was a bear out west and deserves mention too.

OLDER MALE – BREAKING LUCKY, so close to winning two Grade 1’s this year (beaten a neck to Shaman Ghost in the Woodward when 4th and 2nd in the Clark to Gun Runner at Churchill Downs) won the Seeagram Cup and placed in 4 other stakes, 3 graded, should get the most voting points in a close finish with reigning older mare ARE YOU KIDDING ME, who won another 3 graded stakes races in 2016 but was drubbed by ‘Lucky’ in the Clark.

OLDER FEMALE – Often a weak division and since the Ontario events were won by all different horses (Ice Festival, Midnight Miley, Goodyearrforroses, etc.) this should be TOUCHING PROMISE’S year.

A three-time stakes winner in BC for Russ and Lois Bennett, this tough mare was placed in the Grade 3 Ballerina in another great season.

Her purses are not high but the record speaks for itself.

Updated – GOODYEARFORROSES won the Robert Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita on dec. 31, the race came off the turf and was run in slop and the Grade 3 listing is currently in limbo. Goodyearforroses now looms a contender for Older Mare Champion vs Touching Promise and others.

TURF FEMALE – LEXIE LOU goes out with another Sovereign as she won 3 turf stakes races in a remarkable comeback season.

TURF MALE – A variety of graded turf winners this year will lead to a convoluted picture..DANISH DYNAFORMER, UP WITH BIRDS won turf route races, so did GLENNVILLE GARDENS.

The 3yo CONQUEST ENFORCER won a Grade 2 in the US on turf.

SPRINTER – PASSION FOR ACTION had his sewn up early in the year but tailed off in a busy campaign. His stablemate NOHOLDINGBACK BEAR won a Grade in the US while champion of 2015 CALGARY CAT ran an amazing race at the Breeders’ Cup. Last year’s sprint champion STACKED DECK also powered his way to another stakes winning season.

FEMALE SPRINTER – RIVER MAID from the Very Dry Stable gets the edge as she beat Midnight Miley and Southern Ring.

HORSE OF THE YEAR – Hard to go past CAREN as she dominated in Canada against her own kind on 2 surfaces. BREAKING LUCKY was consistent as was AMIS GIZMO.