TORONTO, February 12, 2019 – Welcome to the sixth edition of the weekly Woodbine Snowbirds Report, now in its eighth year, chronicling the winter adventures of Woodbine-based trainers and jockeys currently plying their trade south of the border.
This week, we check in with trainer Catherine Day Phillips. While Day Phillips had a quiet week on the track last week, her horses are beginning to ramp up at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Florida. Among those are Mr Havercamp and Dixie Moon, who both were named finalists in two separate categories for the 2018 Sovereign Awards. Mr Havercamp was named a finalist in the Older Male and Turf Male divisions, while Dixie Moon was named a finalist in the Three-year-old Filly and Turf Female divisions.
It was a strong year for both horses, who are owned and bred by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry. Dixie Moon captured the Woodbine Oaks back in June and also won the Carotene Stakes on turf later in the year. Mr Havercamp had a late start to his campaign, but won multiple graded stakes, including the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes and the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes, while finishing second in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. Day Phillips said it was an enjoyable campaign for all of the connections.
“It was so much fun,” she said. “It was really hard to be down here without them. They were both in Ocala for a little while and they’ve just joined us at Palm Meadows last week. It’s great to have them back in the barn.”
Both horses ran in stakes at Gulfstream Park on December 15, with Mr Havercamp finishing 13th in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes and Dixie Moon finishing ninth in the Grade 3 My Charmer Stakes, and are now making their way back to the races following some time off on the farm in Ocala, Florida.
“We came down with the plan of having Mr Havercamp and Dixie Moon campaign and things didn’t go their way,” Day Phillips said. “They both had a break. The horses are gearing up and getting back on track now.”
Day Phillips said she was hopeful that both horses would get another race into them before returning to Woodbine, with options available at Gulfstream Park towards the end of March, or Keeneland in early April.
Another Day Phillips horse to watch in Florida this winter is Artilena, who has also made her way to Palm Meadows recently following some time on the farm in Ocala. Artilena was a dominant 11-length winner in her second career start on the Tapeta at Woodbine back in August and capped her campaign off with a win in the Ontario Lassie Stakes. She’ll be looking to give Day Phillips her second consecutive Woodbine Oaks win and third win in the last four years.
“She just came down from Ocala and she’s been tremendous over the winter,” Day Phillips said. “She’s put on some weight and grown up quite a bit. I’m really happy with her.”
The Day Phillips stable is spread out across Palm Meadows and farms in both Ocala and in Toronto this winter. Day Phillips said she had 10 horses with her at Palm Meadows and five on the farm in Ocala, with another 26 back in Toronto. Those horses are in light training on the farm now and will likely be ready to ship into Woodbine when the backstretch opens on February 25.
“At home, Angel, my assistant, is on top of everything,” Day Phillips said. “He knows the winter routine and the staff all know what they’re doing. I’ve been up to the farm to check in on everybody and they’re all doing well and managing the weather the best they can.”
Six Woodbine trainers made trips to the winner’s circle last week, including Michael Maker, whose week was highlighted by Hembree’s victory in the El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 9. Hembree had won the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine back in October. Maker won three races in all last week, as A Man Called Boady won at Fair Grounds on February 7 and Traffic Stop won at Gulfstream Park on February 8. In all, Maker recorded three wins and three third-place finishes from 15 starts last week.
— Gulfstream Park (@GulfstreamPark) February 9, 2019
Mark Casse also recorded three winners last week, including La Sola Ranger at Fair Grounds on February 8, Dream Maker at Fair Grounds on February 9 and Philosophy at Fair Grounds on February 10. Casse finished the week with three wins and two third-place finishes from 13 starts.
Norm McKnight won a pair of races at Oaklawn Park, with World Riot recording a win on February 7 and Neil’s Diamond recording a win on February 8. In all, McKnight recorded two wins, three runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes from 14 starts last week.
Willie Armata recorded a win from six starters at Penn National last week, as Court Reporter won the eighth race during the February 9 card. Armata also recorded a runner-up finish from I’se Dubai on February 6.
Steven Chircop sent out I’ll Take the Cake to win her second consecutive start at Penn National on February 9. Chircop also recorded an additional three runner-up finishes from eight starters last week.
John Simms saddled Josie’s Riddle to a three-length win at Tampa Bay Downs on February 8 and also sent out Chilling Secret to a runner-up finish during the same card.
Five Woodbine jockeys rode winners last week, including Ademar Santos, who won five races at Tampa Bay Downs. Santos started his week with a win on the February 6 card with Lady Gregoria and followed that up with a hat trick on the February 8 card, with wins from Drill’s Li’l Man, Josie’s Riddle for Simms and Over to You. Santos also rode Ned Devine to a win on the February 9 card and finished the week with five wins, a runner-up finish and a third-place finish from 16 starters last week.
Luis Contreras also rode multiple winners at Sunland Park, picking up three wins on the week with R H Express (February 5), Overlooked (February 5) and Sunset Dreamer (February 10). In all, Contreras finished the week with three wins, three runner-up finishes and three third-place finishes from 15 starts.
Chantal Sutherland picked up a pair of wins from 12 starters at Fair Grounds last week with Crimson Feline (February 7) and Haleys Court (February 8). Sutherland also recorded in-the-money finishes with Brahms’ Regal Gal (3rd, Febreuary 8) and McIlhenny (3rd, Febreuary 10).
Gary Boulanger was back in the winner’s circle for the second week in a row with Zorb on February 9 at Tampa Bay Downs. Boulanger also rode Jolie Bay to a sixth-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs on February 10.
Kirk Johnson rode a winner at Mahoning Valley, as Looks Like Simon won the seventh race on the February 9 card.
Jerome Lermyte recorded a fifth-place finish with Regal Serenade at Fair Grounds on February 7.
Rafael Hernandez made starts at two different racetracks last week, riding Hit It Once More to a fifth-place finish at Aqueduct on February 7 and Get Explicit to a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on February 9.
Here’s a look at how the other Woodbine trainers fared last week, in alphabetical order, starting with Sid Attard, who sent out Fafa Fooey to an eighth-place finish at Gulfstream Park on February 9.
Julie Belhumeur sent out a pair of horses at Gulfstream Park last week, including Lisa Mila, who finished third on February 8. Belhumeur also recorded an eighth-place finish with Megalin Candy on February 6.
Josie Carroll saddled Avie’s Mineshaft to a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes and Ekati Peace to a 12th-place finish on February 9 at Gulfstream Park.
Gail Cox sent out Twice Around (7th, February 8) and Kitten’s Finest (8th, February 9) at Gulfstream Park last week.
Michael De Paulo sent out three horses at Gulfstream Park last week, including Oh Danny Bear, who finished second on February 9. De Paulo also saddled Theregoesjojo (7th, Febreuary 7) and Take Chargechristy (6th, February 9) last week.
Michael McDonald had a pair of starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including Major Kelly (7th, February 6) and King Kingo (5th, February 6).
Barb Minshall sent out three starters at Tampa Bay Downs last week, including a pair of stakes starters in Admiralty Pier and Get Explicit on the February 9 card. Admiralty Pier was fifth, beaten just a length, in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes, while Get Explicit was seventh in the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes. Minshall also saddled Screenwriter to a runner-up finish on February 10.
Steve Owens recorded a pair of starts on the February 7 card at Gulfstream Park, including Dino Three O Nine, who was second, and Gary Dove, who finished 11th.
Stokes finished fourth at Aqueduct on February 8 for Gerald Seymour.
William Tharrenos had a pair of starters at Gulfstream Park last week, including In Gus We Trust (11th, February 9) and Farfalla (5th, February 10).
Cerrado finished seventh at Gulfstream Park on February 8 for Daniel Vella.