Small Stable, Full 'Plate'

Day-Phillips |


Conditioner Catherine Day-Phillips may only have 28 horses in her stable currently, but she'll saddle two sophomores in Sunday's C$1-million Queen's Plate as she seeks to complete her own Canadian Triple Crown.

The granddaughter of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Charles F. W. Burns and daughter of two-time Queen's Plate-winning trainer Jim Day finished a close second in the 2004 Plate with A Bit O'Gold (Gold Fever), who returned to take the next two legs of the Triple Crown–the Prince of Wales S. and Breeders' S.–en route to career earnings of almost $1.8 million.

Day-Phillips returned to the Breeders' the following year with $2,500 KEESEP yearling Jambalaya (Langfuhr), who promptly romped by eight lengths and would later annex the GI Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup S. and GI Arlington Million for Day-Phillips and her husband Todd Phillips.

This year, Day-Phillips will be represented in Canada's oldest race by Plate Trial upsetter Guy Caballero (Quality Road) and June 4 Woodbine optional claimer winner Watch Me Strut (Strut the Stage).

“The Queen's Plate has been a dream of mine ever since I started training,” Day-Phillips said. “Pretty much ever since I've been involved in racing, really, the Queen's Plate has been an annual goal and dream. It would be tremendous [to win].”

Guy Caballero, owned and bred by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry out of their stakes-placed Day-Phillips trainee Dixie Chicken (Rahy), was a second-out maiden winner in a rained-off route in Etobicoke last October before finishing fifth and third, respectively, behind champion 2-year-old male King and His Court (Court Vision) in November's Coronation Futurity S. and December's Display S. He returned with a second-place finish sprinting May 7 before belying 20-1 odds to go last-to-first over King and His Court in the June 11 nine-furlong Plate Trial (video). “The distance [of the Plate Trial] helped him, but he ran a good race going seven eighths this year,” Day-Phillips offered. “I think the difference with him so far this year is that he's learned to settle and come with a late run. Last year, he was a little more aggressive early in his races and he wasn't as effective toward the latter part of his races. He's just a stronger, better horse than he was as a 2-year-old.”

Watch Me Strut enters the Plate a bit more under the radar, but has won three of five starts for the Day-Phillips's Kingfield Racing Stable and George Philip Ledson. The gelding was just a C$7,000 purchase at last September's Canadian Premier Yearling Sale.

“He had a lovely walk, and he was a nice, correct horse,” Day-Phillips replied when asked what she liked about her bargain buy at the sale. “We certainly didn't expect to pay that little for him, but when the hammer went down and we signed the ticket, it was obviously a good thing.”

Day-Phillips has been pleased with how her Plate pair have trained up to this event. They had their final preparations for Sunday's race in company along with recent maiden breaker Split My Pants (Victor's Cry). Guy Caballero was credited with a five-furlong time in :59.80 (7/72), while Watch Me Strut was clocked in 1:01 (17/72).

“Split My Pants led early, with two lengths back to Watch Me Strut and three lengths back to Guy Caballero,” the trainer noted. “They sat nice and relaxed in a nice pattern, and finished up all together–it was a very good breeze.”

Considering the run Day-Phillips has been on this season, it won't come as any surprise if her Plate runners show up with big efforts. With a string of 28, she's taken six trips to the winner's circle from 21 starters (28.6%)–all at Woodbine–with another five seconds and one third. She also upended last year's Woodbine Oaks with Neshama (Sligo Bay {Ire}).

Also among those winners was another gelded 3-year-old son of Quality Road in Mill Road. A speed-and-fade fourth on debut June 4, the Anderson Farms Ontario and Marette Farrell homebred returned this past Sunday to crush his competition by 7 3/4 lengths, good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure (video).

“He came to us last fall in October from Florida and he was very big and backwards,” revealed Day-Phillips. “He really hadn't done a lot of training and was very, very immature. So we got a few breezes into him in the fall and he looked like he had quite a bit of talent. We gave him the winter off to grow up a little more, and he came back this year, but because he didn't do a lot at two, it has taken him a while to get properly fit. But he's a very nice horse.”

Day-Phillips says she would like to stretch him out at some point, but for now, Mill Road will likely run back in the six-furlong Ontario Jockey Club S. July 14. Between Guy Caballero and Watch Me Strut, she's got the longer races covered anyway.


Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link


Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.