Robert Marzilli's Caren, recently honoured as Canada's Horse of the Year, will make her return to the races in Sunday's $125,000 Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Mike DePaulo, Caren wowed the crowd with four wins from nine starts last season scooping two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Tiara with scores in the Bison City and Wonder Where Stakes. The Society's Chairman bay also added wins in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen and Carotene Stakes.
She'll travel just six furlongs in this Tapeta sprint for older fillies and mares but the versatile Caren, who sports wins from 4 1/2-furlongs out to a mile and a quarter, was a stakes winner as a juvenile at both six furlongs (Victorian Queen) and 5 1/2-furlongs (Shady Well Stakes).
"It's a starting point for her. She's not an easy horse to train and it's time to get her in the mix and get her going," said DePaulo. "We expect her to run well and I don't see any reason why she won't be competitive. She will have to carry a lot of weight (124LBS) but that's the way it is because she's won a lot of stakes."
Caren: Canada's Horse of the Year, picture WEG and Michael Burns Photography
Caren trained over the winter at Gulfstream Park and has breezed three times locally in preparation for the Whimsical which features an all-star cast that includes Canada's Champion Female Sprinter in River Maid as well as graded stakes winners Southern Ring and Skylander Girl.
"She's good and fresh. Hopefully we haven't knocked the speed out of her by running her long in all those races. Who knows, maybe we'll see her come from off the pace this time," offers DePaulo. "I've never trained her to go to the lead, that's just what happens. We've worked her behind horses so it's in her repertoire."
DePaulo was proud to see Caren honoured as Canada's Horse of the Year as well as Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.
"She was deserving of it and we're so happy that she was recognized," said DePaulo. "At two, it was disappointing for her to have run six times and win five and then not get the Sovereign. Unfortunately, the horse that beat us (Catch a Glimpse in the G2 Natalma) won at the Breeders' Cup and was named Horse of the Year."
Caren will leave from Post 5 under regular pilot Jesse Campbell.
River Maid, trained by Robert Tiller for The Very Dry Stable, enjoyed a remarkable 2016 campaign winning four of seven starts topped by a season-closing score in the Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes over Whimsical rival Southern Ring. The dark bay daughter of Where's the Ring also posted a win in the Ballade Stakes by a narrow nose. Blessed with an explosive late kick, River Maid is a heart stopper with the largest winning margin of the four scores a well-measured half-length to go along with two wins by a nose and one by a neck. Patrick Husbands will look to time the ride just right.
Southern Ring posted two wins from five starts in 2016 for trainer Malcolm Pierce and owner-breeder Sam-Son Farm. The Speightstown bay earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure when winning the Grade 3 Ontario Fashion in October. She has the benefit of a winter race at Tampa Bay Downs where she finished third in the Minaret Stakes. Eurico Rosa da Silva will ride.
Skylander Girl will be making her third appearance in the Whimsical having finished second in 2015 and third a year ago. Owned and trained by Alexander Patykewich, the six-year-old daughter of Stroll is a model of consistency with a record of 4-7-6 from 31 starts. She has posted a series of sharp works in preparation for her 2017 debut including an April 3 bullet breeze in :59.40 over the Woodbine main. Rafael Hernandez will ride.
Galina Point, Euroboss, Secretariat Humor and Crumlin Spirit complete the field.
The Whimsical is slated as Race 8 on Sunday's nine-race card. First post time is 1PM Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIBet.com.
FIELD FOR THE GRADE 3 WHISMICAL STAKES
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Galina Point / Gary Boulanger / Mark Casse
2 / Euroboss / Luis Contreras / Michael Stidham
3 / Secretariat Humor / Alan Garcia / Roger Attfield
4 / Crumlin Spirit / David Moran / Mike Doyle
5 / Caren / Jesse Campbell / Mike DePaulo
6 / Southern Ring / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Malcolm Pierce
7 / Skylander Girl / Rafael Hernandez / Alexander Patykewich
8 / River Maid / Patrick Husbands / Robert Tiller