The 2017 season has been filled with winner’s circle photo ops and memorable experiences for trainer Catherine Day Phillips, and this weekend of racing at Woodbine Racetrack marks another opportunity for the third generation horsewoman to see the progress of her trainees and watch her team’s hard work play out on the racetrack.

Day Phillips will send out a pair of stakes contenders in this weekend’s juvenile stakes features at Woodbine with Smooth Talk entered in the $125,000 Frost King on Saturday for Ontario-sired two-year-olds and Grace and Dignity in Sunday’s $100,000 Glorious Song for fillies. Both stakes are seven furlong sprints that will be contested over Woodbine’s all-weather surface.

Smooth Talk is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line to the Robert Tiller-trained Clarendon Stakes winner Be Vewy Vewy Quiet in the Frost King with Woodbine’s leading jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva aboard.

Following a third-place finish in his late July career debut, Smooth Talk returned to the races in mid-October for a maiden-breaking effort over six furlongs. The time off between starts and the addition of blinkers has helped the colt focus on his racing assignments.

“He was a little bit green, a little bit immature so we decided to give him a little more time and we put blinkers on and he seemed to get a little more focused and ran more to where we expected him to,” said Day Phillips. “We expected him to run well first time out and he ran a fairly average race and wasn’t paying a lot of attention so the blinkers seemed to help him.”

The fleet-footed son of Court Vision out of the Vice Regent dam Seduction was bred in Ontario by Hedgestone Management and caught Day Phillips’ eye at the 2016 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society Yearling Sale where he was purchased for $37,000.

“He’s an outstanding mover. He’s very light on his feet so I think that is what trait I would say attracted me to him,” said Day Phillips, who also co-owns (as Kingfield Racing Stable) with longtime partners Doug Anderson and Rita Eskudt, as well as first-time owner Brijesh Kumaresan (2413436 Ontario Inc.).

A winner of her first two career races this fall by a combined 10-3/4 lengths, Day Phillips’ popular Glorious Song contender Grace and Dignity has seen her ownership group change with each start. On Sunday, she will be racing for Edward Hart, Michael & Jules Iavarone, Bob Sauter, and Josie & Craig Arntz.

The Animal Kingdom-Precision Farming filly was bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms, who was active at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale earlier this week. The most notable addition to its broodmare band is Mrs. Hudson, a $200,000 purchase in foal to Midshipman.

“She’s been a little bit of a slow developer and this summer remained quite green, but always breezed nicely,” said Day Phillips of Grace and Dignity. “I would say that she flew a little under the radar through the summer. She was quite green. She’s a May foal and she came to hand I’d say towards the middle of August and we realized we had a pretty nice horse at that time.”

With Da Silva back aboard, Grace and Dignity will face the Mark Casse-trained Win the War, a $700,000 Fasig Tipton yearling, among others in the Glorious Song.

A career year for wins

With a stable packed full of talented horses, Day Phillips is enjoying a career year for wins and ranks among the top 10 trainers in Canada for earnings. The beaming smiles showcased on the stable’s winners board highlight the successes, representative of the hard work and dedication put forth by her entire team, but it’s not just the wins that make for a great year. The final results are important, but seeing her trainees progress and develop along the way is also part of the enjoyment.

“You know, a really special moment, it wasn’t even winning a race,” said Day Phillips, reflecting on highlights from the racing season moving into the final month of the Woodbine meet. “It was being in Saratoga with Mr Havercamp. That was a really, really special occasion in how he handled shipping and travelling and how he handled the whole event. That was, I would say, a special moment. Different than winning races. Yes, there are lots of great times and lots of smiles. I’m looking at our winners board and there’s lots of smiles there, but as far as really great experiences go, it was such a thrill to see ‘Havercamp’ go from a boy to a man at Saratoga. It was a very special experience.”

The trip to Saratoga, where Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s three-year-old gelding Mr Havercamp finished fifth in the Saranac Stakes (Grade 3), set up the homebred for back-to-back stakes wins on home turf in the Vice Regent and Bunty Lawless.

Another trip stateside recently this year with Cup and Saucer Stakes winner Dixie Moon, who finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, provided Day Phillips and the Fitzhenrys with a tremendous experience at the beautiful Del Mar racetrack.

“I was most impressed by how Dixie Moon handled the trip and travelling and the whole experience at Del Mar, including flying,” said Day Phillips. “I was very impressed with her constitution and how she handled it all and has come back [to Canada] and she’s in good order.”

Among a personal-best 23 victories this year, Day Phillips has won five stakes. A victory this weekend in the Frost King or Glorious Song would give her another career-high achievement in equalling the most stakes wins she’s recorded in a single season.

“I’m very grateful for our staff and all of their hard work,” said Day Phillips. “Everybody has contributed and worked super hard for a successful year and I’m just grateful for that and look forward to the winter and going onto next year.”

The following are the fields for this weekend’s stakes at Woodbine. First race post time on Saturday and Sunday is 1 p.m.

$125,000 Frost King Stakes
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer – Morning Line Odds
1. Cat’s Whisper – Slade Callaghan – Shelley Fitzgerald – 20-1
2. Handsome Like Me – Jesse Campbell – Nicholas Gonzalez – 20-1
3. Sheriff Clarke – Mosqueira – Dale Desruisseaux – 20-1
4. Inge – Patrick Husbands – Lorne Richards – 12-1
5. Royal Laser – Alan Garcia – Sid Attard – 10-1
6. Beer Pressure – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Nicholas Gonzalez – 8-1
7. Smooth Talk – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Catherine Day Phillips – 5-2
8. Silent Sting – Luis Contreras – Sid Attard – 9-2
9. Be Vewy Vewy Quiet – Rafael Hernandez – Robert Tiller – 2-1
10. Josie’s Riddle – Jerome Lermyte – Steve Owens – 20-1

$100,000 Glorious Song Stakes
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1. Perfection Cat – Jesse Campbell – Julia Carey
2. Star Hunter – Rafael Hernandez – Nick Caruso
3. Enchanted Tale (S) – Sunny Singh – Harold Ladouceur
4. Grace and Dignity – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Catherine Day Phillips
5. Win the War – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
6. Madame X. (S) – Luis Contreras – Susan Cooney