There were innumerable exciting races at Woodbine last week at various class levels and once again, the victories were spread out among a variety of owners, trainers and riders. And the big win by My Boy Prince in the Queenston Stakes for Canadian-bred three-year-olds set alight the buzz for the August 17 King’s Plate.

My Boy Prince’s trainer Mark Casse said he is currently thinking about the Plate Trial on July 20 as the next start for the speedy grey son of Cairo Prince, owned by Gary Barber. Casse said Manfred and Penny Conrad’s Essex Serpent, second in the Queenston, could come back in the Marine Stakes on June 29.

There were 24 winning trainers of 34 races last week and and 18 different jockeys (in a very competitive riding colony) won races.

Holding the hot hand for trainers are BILL THARRENOS, who won three races, NORM MCKNIGHT, who also scored a triple plus other multiple winners SID ATTARD, KEVIN ATTARD, PAT DIXON and RON SADLER.

Trainers who won their first race of the 2024 season included JULIE BELHUMEUR, who won with the speedy filly Victoria Elizabeth on Friday with jockey Josh Scott riding. HAROLD LADOUCEUR got a win with the hard-knocking gelding LAST AMERICAN EXIT, who was winning for the first time since 2022 and HOWARD KEEN, who usually races at Fort Erie, won his first race at Woodbine since 2016 with GREAT FACES. That gelding, claimed from Tampa Bay Downs this winter, was 33-to-1 in a claiming race on Saturday, tracked a very slow pace and rallied to win under Keveh Nicholls.

Trainer EVETTE CHARTRAND-HOEK and owner SUE LESLIE won their first race of the season with just their third starter as three-year-old FRIENDLY GHOST (Outwork) rallied between rivals to win a maiden special weight on Sunday at 6 furlongs with a 76 Beyer Figure. It was the gelding’s second career start and first this year.

Two noteworthy Canadian-bred beginners who looked good winning their debut outings were the three-year-old LIVE LUCKY, who had any number of sharp workouts getting ready, and the two-year-old STITCHES.

Live Lucky, owned by US-based Exline Border Racing LLC, Michael Jawl from BC, and Aaron Kennedy of Iowa, flew to a big win in a 5 furlong turf maiden optional with a 73 Beyer Figure on Sunday. Trained by Kevin Attard, the colt is by Ontario sire Perfect Timber and from the beautifully-bred mare Stormy Venus by Stormy Atlantic.

Live Lucky is a half-brother to Group 2 winner Don Americo and his dam Serena’s Sister is a full sister to champion Serena’s Song. Live Lucky was bred by Charles Fipke.

Stitches was purchased as a yearling last August by Tucci Stables from the CTHS sale for $56,000 from breeder CEC Stables LP. Trained by Sid Attard, this colt became the fourth winner for his freshman sire Vekoma when he won with a 71 Beyer on Sunday under Eswan Flores. Stitches is from the winning mare Silent Sinner by Silent Name (Jpn).

There was a smattering of Beyer Figures in the 80s during the week,  including stakes winners My Boy Prince, 88, and Olivia Rose, 86. Last American Exit posted an 81 and Norseman Racing’s HOT CARGO put up an 84 on Saturday.

Ten of 18 races this weekend were contested at 5 or 5 1/2 furlongs.


Unfortunately, the weekend had a rough ending as a spill in the final race on Sunday, June 9, sent leading apprentice Sofia Vives to the hospital and led to the passing of popular nine-year-old gelding HALLIE’S HERO.  Earlier in the day, seven-year-old WIN D’ORO was fatally injured in a $40,000 claiming race.

A chestnut racehorse in a stall.

Hallie’s Hero.

The good news is that Vives was reported to have avoided serious injury. Woodbine Communications noted on X,  “Sofia had x-rays done and everything came back clean. We will see a specialist tomorrow to make certain everything is okay. She says thank you to everyone for their concern and can’t wait to get back in the saddle.”

The incident occurred just off the turn for home in a 5 1/2 furlong Tapeta claiming race. Hallie’s Hero was full of run when he went to move into a very narrow opening between horses and he clipped heels and fell. He reportedly emerged from the fall with a fatal bone injury.

Hallie’s Hero was making his  61st career start and he was coming off his 13th career win on May 24. Vives rode the gelding to a nice win for David Robotham and partners that day and it was the third time the son of City Zip won for his current owners and trainer Martin Drexler since he was claimed last June 16.

Bred by Donamire Farm in Kentucky, Hallie’s Hero ran 12 times for his breeder from 2017 to 2019. He was claimed in 2019 by owner/trainer Jeffrey Metz and won for $8,500 before he was scooped up at the end of that year by Dialed in Racing and trainer Craig Smith. Hallie’s Hero had some 20 outings for Dialed in/David Timmings, Craig Smith and Woodbine trainer Richard Morden and he won several races. The gelding was again claimed in the summer of 2022 for $10,000 and won for Barry Kerbel, Ryan Kerbel and Shale Wagman.

He then won for Racing Canada and trainer Abraham Katryan in October of 2022 and won for Doug and Alex McPherson last June for $15,000 claiming. He was claimed that day by his current interests.

In all, Hallie’s Hero took seven different owners and trainers into the winner’s circle. He earned over $238,000.

WIN D’ORO, owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse. was more than halfway through the sixth race at 1 1/16 miles on Sunday when he broke down and was pulled up by Patrick Husbands. The grey son of Medaglia d’Oro had won two of 19 career races since his debut in 2021. The gelding was fifth to Sir Winston in the 2021 Valedictory Stakes (G3).