It may have been almost one year ago that the wonderful Ontario-bred filly Lexie Lou won the Queen’s Plate and Woodbine Oaks, two of Canada’s biggest races, in a span of three weeks, but Dr. Moira Gunn will not soon forget. Gunn and her late husband Dr. Mike Colterjohn bred the eventual Canadian Horse of the Year under their breeding operation known as Paradox Farm. It had been 20 years of hard work and pedigree analysis by Dr. Colterjohn that came up with the brilliant bay daughter of Sligo Bay (Ire) from the In Excess (SAf) mare Oneexcessivenite who was also named the Sovereign Award winning 3-year-old filly and Turf Female of the 2014 season.
Paradox was honoured with the Breeder of the Year Award at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s annual awards evening held June 12 at the trackside tent at Woodbine Racetrack. The moment was poignant for Gunn since Dr. Colterjohn passed away in the spring of 2012 before Lexie Lou, a $5,500 auction yearling, had her first race.
“The success is really about Mike, though Mike is the first to say he’s only as good as his team,” she told Woodbine Entertainment following Lexie Lou’s Plate victory. “Certainly, Sherry MacLean, who was his farm manager, is one of the team. But I could name a dozen other people without which that place wouldn’t have been what it was. Mike had the most amazing staff that anyone could have asked for. He picked them and he trained them and he was loyal to them and they were loyal to him.”
Paradox, which also bred stakes-winning fillies Eff Bee Eye and Pohdi Pohdi in 2014, was one of 57 breeders in Ontario that were honoured as breeders of 79 Ontario-bred stakes winners at the 33rd annual awards.
The board of directors of the CTHS (Ontario) also presented the annual Mint Julep Cup to recently retired track announcer Dan Loiselle, for 48 years of his contributions and dedication to the local industry.
Loiselle was only the second race-caller for Woodbine, which was built in 1956. He called races for 29 years and was the host of uncountable special events and press junkets for Woodbine.
In addition, Nick Eaves, also recently retired from Woodbine, was presented with a Special Award of Merit for work in the industry. Eaves joined Woodbine in 1994 when there was just a single off-track betting location in the province. Eaves played a role in the introduction of a 24-hour horse racing channel and on-line betting platform, now known as Horseplayer Interactive. Eaves served as president of WEG since 2006 and CEO since 2010.
Ontario stallions were also honoured during the ceremony. Queen’s Plate winner Not Bourbon was named the 2014 Top First Crop sire with four winners and earners of over $278,000. The top three stallions for 2014 were Sligo Bay (Ire), Old Forester (sire of three stakes winners during the season) and Milwaukee Brew, sire of Prince of Wales winner Coltimus Prime.