The training track rail was packed on a warm and bright Thursday morning as every trainer on the grounds seemed to have their horses on the track at the same time.

No one wanted to miss a chance to soak up the much-awaited sunshine, and trainer Mike Nault was no exception. Nault had two Manitoba yearling sale purchases out for exercise, one by Vengeful Wildcat and the other by Speculating.

Nault is back in action at the track now with 18 horses, but his charges have already been in training for a few months at Miracle Ranch on Garvin Road, and all were galloping strongly and looking for more. That included last year’s likely 2-year-old champion filly Commandoslastdance.

The big bay filly by Going Commando-Sweet Tizzy Lizzy by Tiznow owned by A2 Thoroughbreds and True North Thoroughbreds was bred by Keaton and Aiden Ziprick, and won both the Debutante Stakes and the Buffalo Stakes last year before being sent home for a well-deserved holiday.

Commandoslastdance has filled out and matured beautifully, and now looks a lot like her father and other Going Commando stakes winners Hidden Grace and Escape Clause when they were three-year-olds, both of whom Nault had a hand in when they were youngsters, winning stakes with each.

“Lady Cop and Big Stretch are training really well, too,” said Nault, whose main clients are top Manitoba owners True North Thoroughbreds and A2 Thoroughbreds.

The 58-year-old trainer has done exceptionally well with young horses during his career, most recently with Commandoslastdance, Lady Cop, and Diamond Digger. He’ll have five two-year-olds in his barn this year including the aforementioned pair by Vengeful Wildcat and Speculating, another Manitoba-bred by Nonios, and two that were purchased in the Ontario yearling sale, one by Malibu Stakes (G1) winner Jimmy Creed and another by H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) winner Echo Town.

“I’ve got a very nice stable this year,” said Nault.

Nault’s career record to date stands at 140-118-138 from 906 starts for purse earnings of $1,573,670, but his numbers have improved dramatically over the past few years. He had his best year ever in 2023, when he won 25 races at a 26-percent clip and cracked the $300,000 mark in purses for the first time in his career.

The best horse he ever trained?

“Hidden Grace,” said Nault, who was also at Oaklawn Park with Escape Clause in 2019, when that filly finished second beaten a diminishing nose to the best female in the world at the time, Midnight Bisou, in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1).

Can we mention Commandoslastdance in the same breath as the Queens of Manitoba racing? Not quite yet, let’s give her a little time. But right now, she looks…