Barn Tour: Josie Carroll on Mighty Heart, other top runners

Barn Tour: Josie Carroll on Mighty Heart, other top runners
Photo: Julia Ferreira

While not quite a banner year, 2021 has been solid for Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll.

Her record of 208: 39-22-27 – a 17 percent win rate – has brought earnings of $2.5 million.

And Carroll won seven graded-stakes races: the Autumn (G2) and the Dominion Day (G3) with Mighty Heart, the Connaught Cup (G2) and the Nearctic (G2) with Avie's Flatter, the Whimsical (G3) and the Seaway (G3) with Boardroom, and the Nassau (G2) with Jolie Olimpica, who has been sold to Shimokobe Farm of Japan.

This week, the Woodbine-based trainer, a three-time winner of the Queen's Plate, is settling in at Palm Meadows in Florida. She took a few minutes to provide updates on her top horses for Horse Racing Nation.

Mighty Heart. Canada's Horse of the Year and top 3-year-old colt in 2020 won over racing fans when the one-eyed colt won the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. This year, he has a 7: 3-2-1 record, including his Autumn victory last month. He will run Saturday in the Harlan's Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

"We were using the Autumn sort of to decide what we'd do with him through the winter, and he came out of it really well, he has run really well on the dirt surface. So we decided to keep on going."

Avie's Flatter's Nearctic victory was his third win in five starts this year. The 5-year-old is "taking a little time off," Carroll said, and will resume training next month in Florida.

Boardroom. After a six-month break, the 4-year-old filly came back in the summer to win the Whimsical and Seaway, her only starts this year. Since then, she has had a break and recently shipped to Palm Meadows. "She came up with a minor problem that we took care of right away. And she should start back training – well, she's already arrived," Carroll said. Her next start probably will be in "the early part of next year.

Mason's Gamble. The 3-year-old colt is 4-for-6 this year, with all his starts at Woodbine. "He had such a productive season and lots of running, and he is Canadian bred and Ontario sired. So he's going to turn out through the winter and start up in Ontario in the spring."

Belichick. The 4-year-old colt finished out of the money for the first time in 10 career starts when he was fifth last out in the Canadian International (G1) in September. "He's still in Kentucky. He'll be coming down to us in the new year."

Lady War Machine. The 3-year-old Street Boss filly went 2-for-5 at Woodbine this year. "Lady War Machine is getting a little downtime. She's healthy but she had a good campaign at Woodbine. So we're giving her a little downtime, and then she will come down to Florida, probably the beginning of January."

Striker. This 3-year-old War Front Colt had his first start in November and is now 2-for-2. "Striker is in Florida prepping for a campaign here at Gulfstream." Carroll said he is "an especially nice horse. It's taken a lot of time to get him to the races. But he certainly didn't disappoint when he got there."

Dreidel. Another 3-year-old who was unraced last year, she was 2-for-2 before finishing ninth in the My Charmer Stakes at Turfway on Saturday. "I don't know if she was overwhelmed with the night racing or the shipping, but she didn't really run her race. So she also has just arrived in Florida."


Duke of Love graduated on debut in November then finished fifth in the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream. "A little bit of a disappointing start at Gulfstream … he just was a little anxious. So we're going to decide in the next couple of weeks how best to help us to get him to the Queen's Plate, whether to continue training here or give him a little breather. Again, the connections are going to make up their minds in the next little while."

Bossy Holiday won two races in six starts this year. "Right now he's turned out up in Toronto. And we haven't quite decided whether to start him up there or bring him down to Florida to get him to start training. We haven't made up our mind."

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