HOLY HELENA and LUIS CONTRERAS in the Woodbine Oaks – Michael Burns photo
















no Lasix, no problem on hot day


The hype was right but the fans weren’t convinced and HOLY HELENA off a maiden win on dirt at Belmont for trainer Jimmy Jerkens paid $14 in her Woodbine Oaks win on Sunday.

The Ghostzapper – Holy Grace by Holy Bull filly made it look quite easy in her Woodbine/Tapeta debut as she edged past Sam-Son Farms’ Mythical Mission to win the $500,000 Canadian classic, the 62nd running of the race.

Her running time of 1:50.18 was faster than the time of the Plate Trial and her 90 Beyer Figure ensures she will be one of the top three favourites for the Queen’s Plate should owner Frank Stronach and his team decide to run her.

Fillies who win big in the Oaks, for example Lexie Lou, are ultra tough in the Plate this year’s crop of 3-year-old makes, at least to this point, looks soft.

HOLY HELENA, being from the Stronach fold, would normally probably not be in the Plate 3 weeks after a big win but the big gal, byt he same sire as 2015 Queen’s Plate winner Shaman Ghost, is surging forward quickly.

The filly does not race on Lasix, the only one in the 12 horse Oaks field who was Lasix-free.

The Oaks had a strong pace as expected as Stallion Heiress went quickly with Miss Adela pressing. Helena stalked the speed along with race favourite Inflexibility, trained by Chad Brown,

While Helena moved to the lead off the last turn, Inflexibility lost tons of ground on the turn before she rallied for third.

Both Ellan Vannin and Cindervella had super runs as well in only their 2nd starts of the season.

Holy Grace, the dam of Holy Helena, won on Polytrack at Woodbine in 2008 and was a 2-time winner. A daughter of the recently deceased Holy Bull descends from the Buckpasser mare Sooni.

Her offspring to this point include Grade 1 placed sprinter Holy Boss and a 2yo named Holy Fort who is training with Ian Wilkes. She had a Point of Entry  filly in 2016 and a Silver Max filly this spring.

Holy Grace is a half sister to Ontario stallion ROOKIE SENSATION.



Plate Trial winner will need a rider for the Plate


Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry have been breeding horses in Ontario since the late 1980s and have raced the occasional homebred. They have one of their best runners right now in GUY CABALLERO, winner of the Plate Trial Stakes and a contender for the Queen’s Plate.

No doubt the fictional character for whom he is named, Guy Caballero, from SCTV, would be raising his eyebrows at this race result (replay is below).

The small group had early Plate favourite Tiz a Slam, from the Chiefswood Stable operation andtrained by Roger Attfield plus champion 2yo of last year King and his Court.

Curiously it was STATE OF HONOR, back from a Kentucky Derby run and 4 hard races in Florida who was bet down to even-money for trainer Mark Casse.

The big Conrad Farms colt did get away with a slow pace and a perfect trip but he could not lead all the way and he was getting tired as he was passed by the top 2.

Guy Caballero, not as flashy on the Beyer Figures but 3rd in the Display Stakes last fall to the King, had a decent sprint run to open his season. Trained by Catherine Day Phillips, the son of Quality Road – Dixie Chicken by Rahy was eager in last place early in this race. He rolled wide off the last time and reeled in State of Honor while the King was still battling on the rail. Rafael Hernandez had a huge Sunday at Woodbine riding 4 winners. He rode Shaman Ghost to the 2015 Plate win in his first partial season riding at Woodbine.

Tiz a Slam ran a strange race as he lost all kinds of ground on the last turn when he did not appear comfortable, He re-rallied in the stretch run.

King and his Court rode the rail and ran his usual good race, remarkable for this gelding who has run 13 times now. Avie’s Mesa did not have a good run for trainer Josie Carroll as he was far off the form from his allowance races this spring.

Hernandez, however, will be riding CHANNEL MAKER in the Plate so Guy Caballero will need a rider. Perhaps Mike Smith will be back in town for the Day Phillips barn (he rode in the Oaks for the team – Financial Recovery).

The Fitzhenry’s often selling their yearlings and tried twice to sell Guy Caballero, first as a weanling 3 years ago at Keeneland November when bought back for $85,000 and then as a yearling the following September when he was bought back for $65.000.

The sire of Guy Caballero, Quality Road, by Elusive Quality, has 4 crops of racing age and he stands for $35,000.

Oh and Quality Road’s daughters Abel Tasman and Salty finished 1 -2 in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes on Saturday.

Dixie Chicken, by Rahy, won 4 races and was bred by the Fitzhenrys. This is her first foal.

She has a 2yo by Curlin named Dixie Moon, no yearlings and a Hard Spun colt born this year. She was bred to Malibu Moon.



Toronto Ont June 11, 2017 Woodbine Racetrack.Plate Trial Stakes Guy Caballero Jockey Rafael Hernandez.Owner Sean & Dorothy Fitzhenry,trainer Catherine Day Phillips. WEG/michael burns photo









Updated Queen’s Plate Top 10 by Thoroughblog

CHANNEL MAKER is upwardly mobile at this time it seems, much like the Oaks winner and Guy Caballero.

Sam-Son Farms’ will not be running Mythical Mission in the Plate and its colt Malibu Secret appears headed to the Charlie Barley Stakes on the grass.

As Chiefswood Stables’ Tiz a Slam seems to be a question mark for Plate success at this point, the farm could be included to start AURORA WAY (also ridden by Hernandez in his big win), the impressive debut winner on Saturday for trainer Stuart Simon.


1 Channel Maker

2 Holy Helena

3 Guy Caballero

4 King and his Court

5 Tiz aSlam

6 Aurora Way

7 Inflexibility

8 Avie’s Mesa

9 Megagray

10 State of Honor

GARY BOULANGER was named the 2017 Avelino Gomez Memorial award winner for his presentation of Canadian riders and his sportsmanship – Michael Burns Photo


David and Jessica Anderson are the breeders of 20 to 1 debut winner CONQUEST TRIUMPH at Prairie Meadows on the weekend. The Conquest dispersal purchase ($13,000, he was a $250,000 yearling) led all the way through 6 furlongs in 1:11.13 for a 63 Beyer Figure.

from Thoroughbred Daily News –  6th-PRM, $31,000, Msw, 6-11, 3, 4, 5/6yo, 6f, 1:11.25, ft.
CONQUEST TRIUMPH (c, 3, Arch–Wicked Diva {SW, $105,550}, by Jump Start), ignored at odds of 20-1 in this unveiling for the same ownership as Conquest Mo Money (Uncle Mo), rolled straight to the head of affairs, but soon came under pressure to his inside through an opening quarter in :22.43.
Kicking away again with a quarter mile to travel, the nearly black colt maintained his advantage all the way to the line, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Status Quo (Super Saver) ran second. The winner
is a half to All On Red (Hard Spun), SP, $157,766, and a colt by Bodemeister foaled Mar. 13. Wicked Diva, who won the Saratoga Dew S., is out of SW & GSP Wicked Mama (Devil=s Bag).
GII Hutcheson S. victor Thunder Moccasin (A. P. Warrior) is also
in the extended family.

Sales history: $250,000 Ylg ’15 FTKOCT;
$13,000 2yo ’16 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $18,450.