It is never too early to start getting a list together of the top three-year-olds for the classic races and it used to be at this time that the first nomination stage for the Canadian Triple Crown would close.
It is not like that anymore. Gone is the popular Plate winterbook (which was a fun way to try and get racing into the mainstream media) and an early look at what stables have horses nominated to the Triple Crown and the Oaks—those races close much later now.
PENNICK is worth watching for the Oaks. This fleet filly, owned by Al and Bill Ulwelling, won for the second time to remain undefeated in a sloppy track sprint at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on January 26. Trained by Kevin Attard for her debut win at Woodbine on May 20, the Hard Spun – By Golly Mis Molly, by Vindication filly did not return until the Fair Grounds race, which she won by 4 1/4 lengths. She sped 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.10 for an 82 Beyer Speed Figure. Bred by Anderson Farms Ontario, Inc., which is up for a Sovereign Award for Outstanding Breeder, Pennick is a half-sister to multiple stakes placed Katie Baby.
Speaking of the Oaks, which is 1 1/8 miles for Canadian-bred three-year-old fillies, none of the three finalists for the Sovereign Award for Champion two-year-old filly of 2023 are Canadian-bred. Living Magic, Tripolina and Witwatrsrand are all US-bred.
A recent Canadian-bred three-year-old filly who is now stakes placed is C C ROYAL, a daughter of Flatter – Summer Reading by Hard Spun, owned by Mens Grille Racing and trained by Hamilton Smith. The chestnut was third in the Xtra Heat Stakes at Laurel on Jan. 27 over a muddy track. The speedy filly won her maiden on Dec. 8 by 8 1/4 lengths at 5 1/2 furlongs. C C Royal was bred by Windways Farm and she was a $140,000 Ocala April Two-Year-Old sale.
Stronach Stables’ SHAMANS GIRL, a last-to-first winner of the Shady Well Stakes at Woodbine in her career debut, is working at Laurel for trainer HAROLD LADOUCEUR, who has a string of horses for Stronach at the Maryland dirt track.
Unbeaten FRAC DANCER, winner of the Clarendon Stakes last fall at Woodbine, has had two quick workouts at Gulfstream Park recently. Owned and bred by Phoenix Racing and trained by Mike DePaulo, Frac Dancer is by Frac Daddy.
On the (King’s) Plate front, probably two-year-old colt champion MY BOY PRINCE (Cairo Prince – Hopping Not Hoping, by Silent Name (Jpn) is prepping at trainer Mark Casse’s training centre in Ocala, Fla. The grey colt, owned by Gary Barber, had a four furlong work on Feb. 7 in 49.80.
Surprisingly, My Boy Prince is the ONLY Canadian-bred nominated to the American Triple Crown. There were 346 horses made eligible for the series last week and usually, there are anywhere from 15 to 20 Canadian-breds on the list.
Graded stakes-placed PIPER’S FACTOR (The Factor), make his sophomore debut on Feb. 3 but was sixth, beaten 24 lengths in a mile race on the dirt. The Chiefswood Stable colt was second in both the Grade 3 Grey Stakes and Coronation Futurity.