Each week, in the lead-up to Opening Day of the 2021 Woodbine Thoroughbred season, we’ll follow some of the must-read storylines of key horses and horsepeople, and also share other informative news and notes.
From horses on the Queen’s Plate trail, to horses to keep tabs on ahead of the new Woodbine season, to catching up with Woodbine trainers, the weekly report will keep racing fans and the racing community in the loop.
Path to the Plate:
Multiple stakes winning trainer Kevin Attard has three horses (Hadassah, Stephen and Truffle King) in his stable that he hopes to see contest the 162nd of the Queen’s Plate, slated for August 22.
“They’ve all had some down time, and we’ve just started them back up with some light training,” said Attard. “We’re just excited to be in a position to have a few legit contenders.”
Sire: Air Force Blue
Dam: Lady Haddassah
Trainer: Kevin Attard
Owner / Breeder: Al and Bill Ulwelling
Record: 1-0-0 from 1 start
“He’s doing well. He was impressive in his first and only start. We expected a good race from him and he delivered. We’ve always thought highly of him and we’re excited to see what the future holds for him. Hopefully, he takes another step forward and continues to develop. We’re in January and the Plate isn’t until August, so a lot can happen between now and then. You just hope they peak at the right time and develop along the way.”
Dam: Lady Holiday
Trainer: Kevin Attard
Owner: Al and Bill Ulwelling
Breeder: Trackwest Racing Inc.
Record: 1-1-0 from 3 starts
“He’s filled out over the winter and he looks well. We were really excited about his last two races, capping it off with a win in the Coronation Futurity. Obviously, the goal is to break the curse of the Coronation Futurity [the last horse to pull off the Futurity-Plate double was Norcliffe in 1975-76]. He’s a horse that’s well-suited for the mile-and-a-quarter, and hopefully, there are no hiccups along the way. ”
Horse: Truffle King
Sire: Giant Gizmo
Trainer: Kevin Attard
Owner: Derek Chin
Breeder: Walnut Ridge Farm
Record: 0-1-0 from 2 starts
“He’s run two decent races. He’s still a maiden, but he’s Ontario-sired. He looks like he’s really developed a lot over the winter. He looks great, and I’m really excited about him as well. I think he’s a horse that’s naturally designed to go the Plate distance and he’s also bred to go that far. With a little luck, it would be nice for Mr. Chin to have a legit contender in the Plate.”
Career wins: 129
Stakes wins: 15
Winter home: “I’m at Payson Park [Florida], which is my regular winter place. I have 12 horses here and some of them will run at Gulfstream. I have two 2-year-olds, who are training and learning the ropes. You can do everything here. Some horses will just get ready to run at Woodbine, and some will run here. It’s the perfect mix.”
Last season: “Last year was a great year. It really couldn’t have been any better. I was really happy with it. I had lots of horses and lots of nice horses, which is hard to do. The two-year-olds ran really well, and so did the older horses.”
This season: “I’m hoping this year will be a repeat. Some of the horses aren’t with me anymore, but maybe we’ll have some more to replace them.”
Key horses: [Queen’s Plate prospect] Tio Magico recently arrived here and he’s going to get ready for Woodbine. I’m happy to have him back with me. He looks great. He’s grown up a little bit. He’s a big horse and his mind is great. Laid-back in the stall, mostly, he eats and sleeps. He has a ton of talent and he’s just starting to grow up now. I expect to see big things from him. I have three other ones here for Sam-Son – Secrets Told, Palace Coup, who just won at Gulfstream [January 21] and Small Talk – and I have horses in partnership with John Menary.”
Final furlong: “It’s nice to still have some Sam-Son horses, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming season. I’d be very happy if this year was a repeat of last year.”
Ones to Watch:
The aforementioned Stephen, who will no doubt have a prominent placing in Woodbine’s annual Queen’s Plate Winterbook release (predictive rankings for the 162nd edition of the Plate, coming soon), is certainly one to watch. So, too, is multiple stakes winner Merveilleux, a Kevin Attard trainee owned by the Ulwellings.
From Canadian Thoroughbred’s Jennifer Morrison…
“Stephen won Canada’s richest race for 2-year-olds, the $250,000 Coronation Futurity, often a precursor for the following year’s Queen’s Plate. Stephen has recently returned from 60 days of turn out and is jogging at Winview Farms in Caledon East (Ontario).”
“Merveilleux, one of 2020’s top 3-year-old fillies, is also back in light training at Winview with an eye to trying graded stakes races on the grass in 2021.”
Ontario Stallion Spotlight:
Get to know Tweet Kitten, a Kentucky-bred son of Kitten’s Joy out of the Saint Ballado mare Sweet Kassidy, standing at Tara Horse Farm in Niagara-in-the-Lake, Ontario. Click here
2020 Race Rewind:
Relive one-eyed Mighty Heart’s stunning score in the 161st Queen’s Plate: Mighty Heart mighty in victory 2020 Queen’s Plate.
Don’t miss a single chance to get rewarded! Click here to learn more!
Key Woodbine Dates:
Friday, January 29, 2021 – Stall applications due
Monday, February 22, 2021 – Backstretch re-opens for set-up
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 – Horses begin shipping in
Thursday, February 25, 2021 – Sand Ring and Training Track open- weather permitting
Saturday, March 2021 – Main Track opens – weather permitting and date TBD based on spring thaw
Saturday, April 17, 2021 – Scheduled Opening Day