John Carey vividly remembers the day he brought the mare Gladiator Queen to his T.C. Westmeath Stud in Shelburne, ON. In fact, the grey daughter of leading Canadian stallion Great Gladiator, who stood at stud at Carey’s farm, was returning to the place she was born.

“She had been retired from racing and I had just come up my driveway and right behind me drove in Dr. Mike Colterjohn,” said Carey, referring to the noted manager of the very successful Gardiner Farms.

“He barely looked at her, but he said to me, ‘she should do the job’.”

Those were profound words indeed.

Gladiator Queen is the dam of the great Pink Lloyd, the richest horse to ever go through the Ontario Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s yearling sale.

Bred by David Sorokolit and raced by David and Peter Sorokolit, Gladiator Queen was born in 2001 and was the first foal produced from the mare Ascot Sarah, a daughter of Ascot Knight. Trained by Earl Barnett, Gladiator Queen won a maiden special weight at Woodbine in July of 2004 in her fourth career start with Eurico Rosa da Silva riding. Two races later, she placed first in a 1 1/16 mile turf allowance race and followed that up with a good third in the $125,000 La Prevoyante Stakes at one mile on the turf.

Gladiator Queen had a few minor placings to complete her career before she was retired in October 2005 with earnings over $128,000.

“Earl Barnett called me after she was retired and asked if I was interested in buying her,” said Carey. “I really liked her. She was a big, handsome grey mare with a great attitude. Overall, she was very nice conformation-wise, not the most correct horse, but very nice overall. We made a deal on the phone.”

Gladiator Queen did not get in foal from her first breeding and then her foal of 2008 died. In 2009 she produced Love to Battle, a son of One Way Love who brought $16,417 (US dollars) at the CTHS sale and went on to be a minor winner.

It was her foal of 2010, Battle for Gold, by Bold’n Flashy, that made Carey excited. Sold for $30,865 to trainer Catherine Day Phillips and her Kingfield Farms, Battle for Gold showed a lot of promise early in his career, winning two races.

“He was going to be an out-and-out stakes horse,” said Carey. “We were counting on him to be a really good horse for the pedigree. Unfortunately, he ended up dying on a farm.”

Carey bred Gladiator Queen to his young hotshot sire Old Forester in 2011 and the mare produced an attractive and leggy chestnut. Soon after that colt was born, Carey wanted to see what the grading was for the pedigree nick and while it came up with a ‘D’ rating, he wasn’t swayed. The colt, later to be known as Pink Lloyd, brought a bid of $30,000 at the 2013 CTHS sale from trainer Bob Tiller and owner Frank DiGiulio Jr. “That was a good dollar then,” said Carey. “His pedigree was very light and he sold strictly on looks.”

Pink Lloyd did not make his racing debut until he was four years old – but what a career it was. He won 26 stakes races from 37 starts, collected a litany of Sovereign Awards for Champion Sprinter and Older Male and was named 2017 Horse of the Year. He earned over $2.4 million.

“People ask me, do I regret selling him?” said Carey. “Of course I don’t. What would I do with him, I don’t race horses.”

Gladiator Queen’s next two foals did not do much on the track, but she produced a big grey son of Souper Speedy in 2016. Ari Gold Speedwagon, who brought $65,000 at the CTHS sale from the DiGiulio and Tiller team, has won over $180,000.

Gladiator Queen went back to Old Forester and produced a huge grey colt who was bought back by Carey and syndicated with two partners. Named Old Blue Cliff, the now four-year-old gelding has raced twice and is gearing up for his 2022 campaign.

It was the chestnut filly that an Old Forester – Gladiator Queen mating produced in 2020 that Carey calls one of his most special homebreds.

“I have to say, she was the best yearling I have ever put through a sale. It was the first year that videos were taken of the yearling and she had the best walk of a young horse I had ever seen.”

The filly, now named Just Pinky, brought $145,000 and was purchased by Bruno Schickedanz.

Now 21 years old, Gladiator Queen has a “lovely individual” at her side, a colt by Old Forester. She was bred late this year to that same stallion.

“She is happy and healthy and definitely doesn’t look her age,” said Carey about his prized mare. “You can’t beat the Queen.”