TORONTO, September 28, 2023 – Fourteen 3-year-olds, including King’s Plate winner Paramount Prince and runner-up Elysian Field, Kaukokaipuu, who contested the Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes, and three Kevin Attard trainees, are slated to go postward in Sunday’s $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third jewel in the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, at Woodbine.
The final event of the tri-surface series for Canadian-bred sophomores concludes on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course with the longest leg of 1 ½ miles.
Dual hall of fame conditioner Mark Casse will have two chances to win his fourth Breeders’, having won in 2007 with Marchfield, in 2018 with Neepawa, and last year with Sir For Sure.
This year, he’ll be represented by the formidable one-two punch of Paramount Prince and Elysian Field.
Paramount Prince, who won the Plate Trial, at 1 1/8 miles over the Tapeta on July 23, went on to take the 1 ¼-mile Plate by 1 ½ lengths over a determined Elysian Field.
The son of Society’s Chairman-Platinum Steel, owned by Mike Langlois and Gary Barber, finished a game third in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales at Fort Erie on September 12.
“He was really gutsy in the Prince of Wales,” praised Casse. “(Trainer) Josie Carroll’s horse (Ottawa) ran head-and-head with him three-quarters of the way, and obviously, the pace was very quick, but he is what he is and that’s the way he runs. He ran his butt off, and the winner (Velocitor) ran great and deserved to win.”
The Breeders’ will mark the first time Paramount Prince, bred by Ericka Rusnak, will race on the turf.
“His breeding says he should like the grass, but we’re going to find out,” offered Casse. “We just went easy with him after the Prince of Wales. It’s coming back pretty quickly, so we didn’t feel the need to do too much with him.”
Both the Plate triumph and the third in the Prince of Wales are ideal examples of the chestnut gelding’s game ways, noted Casse.
“He’s just full of guts, a give-it-all-you-got type of horse. After the Prince of Wales, Patrick said that after Paramount Prince caught his breath, he ran off with him after the race. After you battle with one horse and then take on another one, sometimes you don’t have time to catch your air. Patrick said he caught his air after the wire. Cooling out, he acted like he hadn’t done anything. His efforts in the Plate Trial, the Plate, and the Prince of Wales… he’s just one tough son of a gun.”
Elysian Field, owned by Gary Barber and Team Valor International, rallied stoutly to win the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks, Canada’s pre-eminent race for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies, and followed it up with her second-place finish in the Plate.
The daughter of Hard Spun-Elysian launched her career with a pair of turf races, including in her lone 2-year-old start when she rallied from eighth at the stretch call to finish second at 47-1 in a 5 ½-furlong sprint at Saratoga last August. She was fifth, placed eighth, in her next start, at 7 ½ panels in January at Gulfstream.
Bred by Anderson Farms Ont. Inc., she brings a 2-3-0 record from seven starts into Sunday’s race.
“Watching Paramount Prince and Elysian Field go one-two in the Plate is definitely in my top 10 highlights,” said Casse. “We were extremely fortunate. It’s funny, Gary (Barber) told me all morning the day of the Plate that he had a dream we were going to run one-two. And it happened.”
Casse, zeroing on 3,600 career wins, has high praise for the filly.
“She’s big and strong and looks like a colt. She’s a little fresher than most, including Paramount Prince. It’s all about how she handles the grass and she’s trained well coming into the race. The only thing that could stand in her way is her not liking the grass, but I would be surprised at that.”
A son of Mr Speaker-Grey Pride, Kaukokaipuu, trained by Ted Holder for Culpepper Island Syndicate, finished 15th of 17 in the Plate on August 20 but rebounded with a strong runner-up effort to Velocitor in the Prince of Wales Stakes.
“He showed up,” said Holder, of the Prince of Wales. “That’s the horse I thought we had. In this game, you never know how each race will go, but I did expect that he would run well. I was down there for the seven days he was at Fort Erie, and I didn’t leave his side. I prepped him as I would for any other race. I expected him to show up and he did.”
The grey, bred in Ontario by Sean Fitzhenry, will now take to the E.P. Taylor turf and tackle 1 ½ miles, a surface and distance Holder believes his colt can handle.
“His pedigree says that it is not a problem," said Holder. “Mr Speaker was a mile and a quarter, to mile and a half horse on all surfaces, and he is out of a granddaughter of Radiant Ring who is tested at the classic distances in the early to mid-90s.”
Sporting a mark of 2-8-0 from 13 career starts, Kaukokaipuu broke his maiden on May 20 in a nine-length romp over seven furlongs on the Tapeta. He continued to move forward with a victory in the Queenston, and Holder supplemented him to the G3 Marine on July 1 as his final Plate prep.
Kaukokaipuu ran second in the Marine, at 1 1/16 miles, before his disappointing result in the Plate.
Holder still isn’t certain as to what happened in the 164th edition of Canada’s most famous horse race and North America’s longest continually run stakes race.
He is, however, confident that Kaukokaipuu, who has three runner-up efforts from three starts on the turf, will be at his best on Sunday.
“On paper, he has run only one questionable race, which was the Plate,” noted Holder. “He has been consistent throughout his career. Every other time, he has shown up. I took him to the equine hospital in Guelph after the Plate to make sure nothing was wrong. Everything checked out fine, so we just kept on going.”
Holder is hoping the third time is the charm with this year’s Canadian Triple Crown.
“He’s a hard-trying horse who has taken me places. We would be very happy if he were to win the Breeders’. He’s a wonderful horse. He’s pretty laid-back once he’s out of the stall. Being a colt, he’s a little nippy when you walk by. He likes his carrots, and he likes his attention, which we are happy to give him.”
Marge Szigeti and Meverton Douglas share groom duties.
There will also be some other familiar faces from the opening two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Trainer Kevin Attard, who won last year’s Queen’s Plate with reigning Canadian horse of the year Moira, will is represented by the quartet of Enjoythesilent (first on the also-eligible list), Philip My Dear, Tiburon, and Wickenheiser.
Owned by Lanni Bloodstock, Daniel Plouffe, and Canuck Racing Club, Enjoythesilent, sixth in The King’s Plate, debuted on the turf last July and finished fifth in the 6 ½-furlong sprint.
The dark bay son of Silent Name (JPN)-Spun Lace is 1-1-1 from five starts.
“I thought Enjoythesilent raced well in the Plate,” said Attard, of the Adena Springs-bred gelding. “He’s a lightly raced horse and we’ve always been very high on him. He’s had one run on the turf, but he’s matured both physically and mentally since then. We think this is a horse that will continue to get better over time and hopefully, he can come up with a big performance if he gets in.”
Shane Springer is the groom.
Philip My Dear, Canada’s champion 2-year-old male, will look to get back on the winning track in the Breeders’.
Also bred by Adena Springs, the son of Silent Name (JPN)-Involuntary was ninth in The King’s Plate. His last win came in October’s Cup and Saucer, a 1 1/16-mile test over the E.P. Taylor turf.
The dark bay colt, owned by Raroma Stable, is no stranger to the Woodbine turf, having contested the first four races of his career on the grass, which yielded three wins and a second.
Attard believes Philip My Dear, 3-0-2 from eight starts, will appreciate a return to the green scene.
“We’re very excited to see Philip My Dear get back on the grass. He’s hooked some tough horses this year, but when you look back at his form, he loves running on the turf and has done exceptionally well on it. He’s coming into the race in great shape and hopefully, he’s ready to show what we know he’s capable of.
Joshua Attard is the groom.
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, Lessee, and Siena Farm LLC, Tiburon will get his first opportunity to race over the turf and make his second appearance in the Canadian Triple Crown series.
The son of Good Magic-Enoree was fifth to Attard trainee Velocitor in the Prince of Wales.
Sporting a mark of 1-0-0 from four starts, the dark bay colt, bred by Mark Dodson, broke his maiden in his second race, a three-quarter length score at 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine Tapeta this June.
“Tiburon is another lightly raced horse and he’s never competed on the grass, but I think he’ll appreciate the ground and the distance,” offered Attard. “He likes to come from off the pace, so if there are some fast early fractions, he can come running and he’ll have a lot of runway to work with on that nice, long stretch.”
Howard Carter is the groom.
Wickenheiser, second in the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser, was eleventh in The King’s Plate and then second in the Wonder Where Stakes, the final jewel in the Canadian Triple Tiara series.
Bred in Ontario by Sean Fitzhenry, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid-Game (FR) was a first-time out winner last June when she notched a half-length victory at 6 ½ furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf.
Owned by Clay Scherer, Al and Bill Ulwelling and Attard, Wickenheiser is 1-3-0 from eight starts, including 1-1-0 in four grass appearances. The bay has posted six top-four finishes to date.
“I thought Wickenheiser came back with a nice effort last time out in the Wonder Where,” said Attard. “She broke her maiden on the grass and it’s a surface she’s run on before. In seven of her eight races, she’s been within four lengths of the winner, so we’re expecting another competitive effort from her on Sunday.”
Howard Carter is the groom.
The last Triple Crown winner was Wando, just the seventh horse to complete the series sweep when he won the 2003 Breeders’ Stakes with jockey Patrick Husbands aboard for trainer Michael Keogh and late owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz.
Since then, A Bit O’Gold (2004), Pender Harbour (2011) and Tone Broke (2019) also claimed two-thirds of the Triple Crown by taking the last two legs. In 2020, Belichick won the Breeders’, denying stablemate Mighty Heart a Triple Crown sweep.
The longest shot to win the Breeders’ Stakes was Miami Deco in 2010. The Ontario-bred son of Limehouse returned $132.10 for a $2 win bet. Catherine Day Phillips became the first female trainer to win the race courtesy of A Bit O’Gold in 2004. One year later, she was in the winner’s circle again, this time with Jambalaya.
Roger Attfield holds the record for most wins by a trainer with nine. His first victory came with Carotene in 1986.
The $125,000 Ontario Damsel Presented by Ketel One is also part of Sunday’s 11-race card. Five 3-year-old fillies will travel 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta.
Kevin Attard won three consecutive (2019-21) editions of the Ontario Damsel. He also won in 2013 with Surtsey. Mark Casse has sent out five winners, including last year with Souper Hoity Toity.
Post time is set for 1:15 p.m. ET, with the Breeders’ Stakes scheduled as the ninth race (approximately 5:42 p.m. ET). The race will be broadcast live from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on TSN.
Field for the Breeders’ Stakes (Race 9)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Kaukokaipuu – Rico Walcott – Ted Holder
2 – British Artillery – Omar Moreno – Barbara Minshall
3 – Simcoe – Christopher Husbands – Katerina Vassilieva
4 – Hemlo Gold – Eswan Flores – Elizabeth Elder
5 – Tiburon – Leo Salles – Kevin Attard
6 – Tito’s Calling (S) – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Michael De Paulo
7 – Paramount Prince – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
8 – Sammy Stone – Ryan Munger – Catherine Day Phillips
9 – Midnight in Malibu – Luis Contreras – Sid Attard
10 – Philip My Dear – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard
11 – Touch ‘n Ride (S) – Kazushi Kimura – Layne Giliforte
12 – Elysian Field (S) – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse
13 – Twowaycrossing – Keveh Nicholls – Roger Attfield
14 – Wickenheiser – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
AE 15 – Enjoythesilent (S) – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
AE 16 – Legal Catch – Daisuke Fukumoto – Michael De Paulo
AE 17 – Over and Ollie – Rico Walcott – Sid Attard
AE 18 – Greystone – Jason Hoyte – Sylvain Pion
Field for the Ontario Damsel Presented by Ketel One (Race 5)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Forever Dixie – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
2 – Sal’s Blue Jacket – Kazushi Kimura – Michael Stidham
3 – Love to Shop – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Kevin Attard
4 – Solo Album – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse
5 – Witch Hazel – Rafael Hernandez – Katerina Vassilieva
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms