Considerable effort goes into winning any graded stakes race, but trainer Josie Carroll and her staff had to put in an inordinate amount of work to capture the Whimsical Stakes (G3) at Woodbine with Boardroom .
For Carroll and every other trainer based at Woodbine, the start of the 2021 racing season had been shrouded in mystery after a stay-at-home order for Ontario was put in place April 8 to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Woodbine was originally scheduled to open April 17 but the ban was not lifted until June 2, pushing opening day back to June 12.
“It’s been extremely difficult for everybody,” said Carroll, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. “We’re all in the same boat. You have a horse ready two months ago to go and then there’s the continued delays. Thankfully I have some very patient owners. They were great. It was hard to keep calling them and say, ‘Races are delayed. Races are delayed,’ when their horse is sitting on go. I’m really glad it paid off in the end.”
There was indeed a nice payoff for Carroll and owner LNJ Foxwoods when Boardroom’s 2021 delayed debut produced a neck victory June 19 in the CA$156,000 (US$125,098) Whimsical for fillies and mares, the first graded stakes race of the year at the Canadian track.
Sharp despite a seven-month layoff, Boardroom and jockey Luis Contreras capitalized on a lightning-fast :43.93 opening half-mile over a synthetic surface that was generating quick times to bid for the lead five-wide on the turn in the six-furlong stakes. The filly narrowly prevailed in a tough stretch duel over Our Secret Agent and Amalfi Coast .
“She’s a special filly and the race set up perfectly for her,” Carroll said. “Luis sat just off them and the filly proved what she is.”
The victory was the fourth in six starts for the 4-year-old daughter of Commissioner , who was bought by Solis/Litt for $475,000 from the Q Bar J Thoroughbreds consignment at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. Bred by Polo Green Stable in Kentucky, she was originally purchased by Q Bar J for $40,000 from the Perrone Sales consignment at The July Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s selected yearlings sale in Lexington, in 2018.
The Whimsical was the first graded stakes win for the $213,388 earner, though she came quite close to registering that in her final start at 3 when she lost by a head in the Bessarabian Stakes (G2) to Artie’s Princess , who was the 6-5 favorite in Saturday’s stakes but tired and wound up fifth.
Summer Sunday , Artie’s Princess, and Golden Ami set the demanding early fractions of :21.93 and :43.93 that caught up to them turning for home. As Boardroom ($5.70), the 9-5 second choice, moved up from third to surge to a half-length lead at the eighth pole, Gary Barber’s Our Secret Agent, who was third in the Bessarabian, came charging into the picture from last in the field of six to fall just short.
A daughter of Secret Circle trained by Mark Casse, Our Secret Agent finished a little less than a length ahead of Terra Racing Stable’s Amalfi Coast, a Tapizar mare trained by Kevin Attard who was third.
Final time was 1:08.35 on the fast track.
“Every time they win, they get better, right?” Contreras said. “She’s amazing and has been improving. Josie had her in perfect shape.”