What is one of the perks of buying a yearling at the Ontario Canadian Premier Yearling Sale? Getting a chance to run your horse in one of the lucrative stakes events offered by the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario), the Thoroughbred Improvement Program and Woodbine Racetrack.
On Aug. 30, Canadian Millions race night featured a private party for prospective buyers to rub elbows with experienced horsepeople, along with six stakes races (totaling $1 million) for sales graduates.
$125,000 KENORA STAKES – PINK LLOYD
One of the most exciting horses in Canada in 2017 is Entourage Stables’ rangy gelding Pink Lloyd, a brilliant yet delicate sprinter who did not debut at the races until he was a four-year-old last season. This year, the son of Old Forester – Gladiator Queen by Great Gladiator has powered to six stakes wins in six races. His Kenora victory on sales night might have been his most impressive.
Despite losing a shoe and suffering a minor foot laceration, Pink Lloyd fought off last year’s Kenora winner, Jacks Escarpment (also by Old Forester), to win the six-furlong dash by half a length in 1:09.29.
The Kenora, worth $125,000, put another $75,000 into Pink Lloyd’s bank account, pushing him over the $500,000 mark in earnings.
Trainer Robert Tiller bought Pink Lloyd four years ago for $35,000 from breeder John Carey at the sale on behalf of Frank Di Giulio Jr. and a collection of family and friends who make up Entourage Stable.
$125,000 ELGIN STAKES – MELMICH
Originally a $5,000 yearling purchase by trainer Warren LeBlanc, Melmich traded hands twice early in his career. His current owners, Stephen Chesney and Cory Hoffman, have reaped rewards with this long-winded son of Wilko.
Melmich won the Elgin Stakes, a 1 1/16 mile event for three-year-olds and upward, for the third consecutive year and boosted his earnings to over $800,000. Hoffman and Chesney claimed the six-year-old in 2014 for $20,000. Kevin Attard trains.
It was an emotional win for Attard and the owners as they lost their champion sprinter Calgary Cat on Aug. 19 when he collapsed following the Play the King Stakes (Grade 2).
Melmich was bred by Andrew Stronach and is from the You and I mare Little Swoon.
$125,000 HALTON STAKES – Johnny Bear
It was a long wait, but the 2012 Canadian Premier Yearling Sale topper, Johnny Bear, won his first stakes race at the age of six in the Halton Stakes at 1 ½-miles on the grass.
The chestnut gelding, bought for $275,000 by Bear Stables and Colebrook Farm from breeder Ivan Dalos, had netted $250,000 in earnings before the Halton score, with five wins in 31 races.
The Halton was easily his biggest victory and came at the expense of graded stakes winner Kaigun, owned by Gary Barber, and Emient Force, recently claimed by Catherine Day Phillips.
Ridden by Luis Contreras and trained by Ashlee Brnjas, Johnny Bear (named for Danny Dion’s Bear Stables and Colebrook’s John Brnjas) is a son of English Channel – In Return by Horse Chestnut.
$200,000 MUSKOKA STAKES – Summer Sunday
The two-year-old stakes events on Canadian Millions night often provide the most excitement and the filly Summer Sunday remained undefeated with her romp in the 6 ½-furlong sprint over the Tapeta.
The speedy daughter of Silent Name (Jpn) – Dancing Allstar by Millenium Allstar co-topped the 2016 sale at $95,000 and was purchased from breeder Trinity West Stable by Bill and Anne Scott. Stuart Simon trains Summer Sunday, who was winning her second stakes race in three starts.
“Bill liked her pedigree, we liked the whole package, Bill was pretty adamant about buying her,” said Simon. The Scotts, longtime buyers at the local sale, once again were prominent with two big purchases at the 2017 sale (see page 43).
$200,000 SIMCOE STAKES – Eskiminzin
Brett Delmas, owner of Jecara Farms in Schomberg, ON, offered his homebred Eskiminzin at the 2016 Canadian Premier Yearling Sale, but there were no takers at $12,000 so he raced him himself with trainer/sister Analisa. That proved to be fortuitous as the impressive dark bay two-year-old won the Simcoe Stakes under jockey Patrick Husbands.
It was the second win in three starts for Eskiminzin and the first stakes win for Brett Delmas.
Eskiminzin, named for an Apache Chief whose name means, “Men stand in line for him,” is the first runner for his sire Cold Harbor, who raced for Fieldstone Farms, previously owned by Brett’s father Ron and now operated by Analisa.
Cold Harbor won six of 60 races while battling in allowance and claiming races at Woodbine. Eskiminzin is from the mare Ms. Forum, by Open Forum, and she has also produced stakes winner and stallion Atlas Shrugs.
Jecara Farms is named after Delmas’ children Jesse, Carver and Raven.
$125,000 ALGOMA STAKES – Sweater Weather
Frank Di Giulio Jr. celebrated his second straight win in the $125,000 Algoma Stakes by his tough mare Sweater Weather, a $39,000 yearling purchase by the owner and Robert Tiller, from Osprey Stable.
The six-year-old by Milwaukee Brew – Susur by Cape Canaveral zoomed around her rivals under jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva to win for the seventh time in her 25th career start. Sweater Weather has now earned over $545,000.