TORONTO, February 2, 2022 – Each week, in the lead-up to Opening Day (April 16) of the 2022 Woodbine Thoroughbred season, we’ll look at key Woodbine-based horses and horsepeople while sharing important news and notes.
From horses on the Queen’s Plate trail, to catching up with Woodbine trainers, the weekly report keeps racing fans and the racing community in the loop.
In this week’s report, trainer Michael De Paulo talks about reaching a career milestone and his hopefuls for this year, while Barbara Minshall looks back on her 2021 campaign and ahead to her 2022 season, plus much more.
Tracking Success: Mike De Paulo
- 918 career wins
- 76 stakes victories
- Pender Harbour, Krz Ruckus, Caren, Shillelagh Slew, and Passion for Action are some of his top horses
- Won a career-best 49 races in 2015
On his 2021 campaign…
“We finished sixth overall in wins, and we went over the 900-mark in wins, which was a nice thing to achieve. We’re hoping to get to 1,000 one day. That’s definitely a goal. We’ve had stakes success over the years, but last year, we didn’t win any. I can’t think of any particular highlight.”
On reaching the 900-win mark…
“It’s something that you appreciate and it pushes you to want to get to 1,000 wins. A lot of hard work by everyone in the barn goes into reaching 900 wins. It also takes some racing luck too, but to say that we’ve reached that point, it’s definitely something to be proud of. We might have won 40 or 50 races over the years that we’ve been going to Florida, and a few races at Fort Erie, but the big majority of those wins came at Woodbine, which is kind of cool.”
On some of his stable stars…
“We had a nice little two-year-old in our barn out of Caren, Curlin Candy, she was second in the My Dear the first time we ran her. She has a brother by Medaglia d’Oro, so we’re kind of excited about him for this year. We have a bunch of nice babies, who I went to see in Ocala. We have a nice colt by a stallion named Army Mule, which was a Todd Pletcher horse. He’s a pretty nice baby, so we’re excited about him. Another one, Brutality, just got beat a head in a turf race and didn’t run so well in the Cup and Saucer, but I think he can be okay. We have a filly, Intro, who was third in the Princess Elizabeth. She’s a nice one as well. As the races stretch out in the year, we hope she can be a [Woodbine] Oaks or Wonder Where [Stakes] horse. We’re hoping Curlin Candy can do the same. Rapid Reload, a son of Reload, is a good one for [owners] Bear Stables and Mickey Demers. We have a whole bunch of Ontario-sired horses that we bought in the sales. We have 52 horses, about 15 or 16 new babies, so it’s enough to keep us busy.”
On yearly goals…
“I really don’t set goals. The number I always look at is purse earnings. Obviously, you want to try and up your win percentage each year, but that’s the stat I focus on the most. The way I approach it is to do the best with what you have. You love to be able to win stakes races, and we haven’t done that the past two years, which is the first time that’s happened in probably 20-25 years for us. You hope to win your share of races, try to get your win percentage up a little, and make sure you’re doing enough so that your owners are happy and having fun.”
“You always look forward to this time of the year. It’s that time when you get the horses ready for what you hope can be a really good season.”
Trainer Talk: Barbara Minshall
Need to know…
A former member of the Canadian Olympic equestrian team, Minshall secured a spot in the record books as the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race, in Canada or the U.S., when Kiridashi won the Prince of Wales Stakes in 1995. Minshall was named Canada’s champion trainer in 1996.
Ready to roll…
“I have about 16 horses with me in Florida right now. I don’t plan on running any here. My focus is on getting them ready, racing a few at Keeneland, and basically, be ready to come up to Woodbine to kick the year off.”
Crowning moment in 2021…
“Obviously, the highlight from last year was British Royalty winning the Breeders’ Stakes. That was definitely the highlight. He’s training fabulous. I won’t be running him on the synthetic, so we’ll look to get him into a race going long at Keeneland, and then look for long on the turf at Woodbine. He’s matured a lot and is really training well. I’m hoping he can move forward and have another productive year. It’s always a big step from three to four – you’re facing Open company – and we’ll have to see what happens. My assistant trainer Chad and myself were really quite high on the horse last winter and he took us on a very adventurous path to get to the Breeders’ Stakes winner’s circle.”
“I had a few disappointments with some horses, getting injured early and things like that, but it happens. It wasn’t as good a year as it looked like going into it, but horses get minor injuries and things hold them up a few months.”
“I have a lot of three-year-olds, several of them unraced, and older horses coming into Woodbine. Some of them will hopefully pan out well. I have a really nice unraced Practical Joke filly, who I’m looking forward to running. A colt, Gatling Gun, that I own, I think he’ll turn into a pretty nice horse. I’ve got some other babies that got hurt. A couple of Bruce Lunsford’s horses got hurt early last year and I think they’ll have a good year. Dreaming of Drew, who missed her entire three-year-old season, will be back. I’m hoping we have a pretty decent season.”
Plenty (of hopefuls) on her Plate…
“I’ve got a few horses nominated to the Plate. I have an unraced Silent Name colt, Silent Lucidity, who is training really well. He’s owned by Andrew Warren. He also has a horse I ran once last fall, Bringer of Rain, who will come back to Woodbine. He’s nominated to the Plate too. I sent him to Kentucky for the winter and hopefully we can get a start for him at Turfway. He seems like he’s a pretty nice horse. I have a new owner who has a Tiznow colt, who is also very nice. I have a few who could be on the Plate Trial. I don’t know how far Gatling Gun will run, but I think he’s bred to go on with it. I think Rum Cup is another horse that could have a good year. He didn’t run well in his last race, but he had an excuse. He’s been given some time and we did geld him. He’s a nice horse. Typically, I don’t have any Ontario-bred Plate prospects, but I do this year. It’s something to look forward to.”
“When you’re in this sport as long as people like I have been in it, you become accustomed to those ups and downs. There are lows and there are highs, and that’s why you really do have to approach things with that mindset of one day at a time.”
2021 Race Rewind:
Watch as Boardroom delivers a stellar stakes performance in the Grade 3 Whimsical, on June 19, 2021.
Key Woodbine Dates:
Monday, February 14, 2022 – Backstretch re-opens for set-up
Tuesday, February 15, 2022 – Horses begin shipping in
Wednesday, February 16, 2022 – Sand Ring and Training Track Open – weather permitting
Saturday, April 16, 2022 – Opening Day