Dixie Moon in good company

Dixie Moon, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf contender, has made her home in Del Mar’s Barn BB since arriving from Louisville with 18 Breeders Cup’ horses on Monday.

The chestnut, Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s homebred filly, goes into the race with two wins including a sharp one-length score in Woodbine’s Cup and Saucer Stakes last time out against colts.

The March foal, at Del Mar with trainer Catherine Day Phillips, her husband Todd Phillips and groom Nicola Brolly, has taken to her surroundings.

“She galloped and was great when she was (paddock) schooling (on Wednesday), and she galloped (Thursday) morning,” Todd Phillips said. “She was tired the first day but she perked back up and is taking it all in.”

Todd Phillips, describes Dixie Moon as the type of filly ready to take on the Breeders’ Cup challenge.

“She has a very strong personality. Her mom (Dixie Chicken) was like that. Catherine trained her. She has the traits of her mom but nicer. We used to call her ‘Angry Chicken.’ (Dixie Chicken) is a very smart filly. She’s taking it all in. The first day she’s looking around and saying ‘Who’s that?’ and ‘What’s this in my world?’ She’s doing very well.”

Dixie Moon is well regarded among observers at Del Mar, but her stall is adjacent to two of the sport’s titans. Mark Casse to her south and…Bob Baffert to her north.

Metres away are a couple dozen photographers taking photos of Baffert’s horses cooling out after training on Thursday morning, including Arrogate, arguably the sport’s biggest star.

“Mark Casse is here and Bob Baffert with Arrogate, Drefong, Collected, Mubtaahij are here,” Todd Phillips gestured, with the clicking of cameras in the background. “We don’t see these guys every day and they are right here. The racing fan comes out in all of us.”

Eurico Rosa da Silva, Woodbine’s leading jockey, also made an appearance on the Del Mar backstretch Thursday morning, watching the filly train and posing for pictures.

The Juvenile Fillies Turf event goes at 2:25 p.m. PT (5:25 p.m. ET) as the first of 13 championship events.

Casse representing Woodbine, Canada

Not surprisingly, the Mark Casse barn is a significant presence for the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar this year.

The eight-time champion trainer at Woodbine is third in wins in North America among conditioners with 324 and fifth in purse earnings ($14,129,366).

At Del Mar, the nine-time Sovereign Award winner has seven horses in the 2017 title event: Awesome Slew (Dirt Mile) and Flameaway (Juvenile Turf) on Friday, plus Wonder Gadot, Heavenly Love and Gio Game (Juvenile Fillies), Holding Gold (Turf Sprint) and World Approval (Mile).

He has been gracious answering pertinent questions regarding the status of his starters like: “How’s he coming into the race?” or “Do you think she’ll be on the lead?”

Through it all, he relayed his appreciation for Woodbine and Canada and what both have done for him in his career on Thursday morning.

“I always feel I’m representing Woodbine and Canada,” Casse said. “It’s been a big part of my life and a huge reason why I’m here. That’s why I’ve come to the (Ricoh Woodbine) Mile twice the last little bit (with two of the highest profile horses in North America with Tepin in 2016 and World Approval in 2017).”

Casse dominates the Woodbine standings with 79 wins and $4,607,423 in purse earnings this year.