TORONTO, February 1, 2023
– Ontario Racing’s Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) has announced the recipients of the $200,000 distributed to breeders through its Ontario Sired Reward of Excellence Program.
The Ontario Sired Reward of Excellence Program annually awards $50,000 to the breeders of the three highest worldwide earners in four categories, two-year-old males, two-year-old females, three-year-old males, and three-year-old females.
First-place receives $25,000, second-place $15,000, and third-place $10,000. USD and CAD earnings are considered at par for this award.
Three-year-old gelding Sir For Sure was the top earning Ontario Sired runner in 2022. The son of retired Adena Springs stallion Sligo Bay (IRE) won the Breeders’ Stakes and was third in the Queen’s Plate on route to earning over $450,000.
Bred by Rene and Darlene Hunderup’s Norse Ridge Farm and campaigned under their Heste Sport silks, Sir For Sure was the first Canadian Triple Crown pres. by OLG winner for the couple, who also have a successful Quarter Horse breeding and racing operation.
“Nobody expects to win these races, but we all hope to do so,” said Rene. “That’s what the game is all about and it’s part of the excitement of being in this business.”
Sir For Sure’s overall mark was 3-0-1 from six starts. He won the Plate Trial, and broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in February. Right from the time he was a weanling, Hunderup knew the horse could become something special.
“When we bred his dam to Sligo Bay (IRE), it just appeared to be a very good nick,” said Hunderup. “When he was a weanling, he had quite a presence. When he was a yearling he had an absolute presence, and that was how the name came around because he was so stately and classy in the way he was standing and walking around in the paddock.”
In his search for the next Sir For Sure, Hunderup is continuing to support the Ontario Sired program. He has eight Ontario Sired yearlings on the farm, eight Ontario Sired foals expected in 2023, and will breed all 10 of his mares to Adena Springs stallions for 2024 foals.
“We are so appreciative of the Ontario Sired Program,” said Hunderup. “It keeps us in the breeding business, and encourages us to continuously improve our breeding program.”
Strega earned top honours in the three-year-old filly category, making seven starts, and only finishing off the board twice to earn nearly $165,000. Bred by leading Kentucky outfit WinStar Farm the Silent Name (JPN) filly won the Ashbridges Bay and was runner-up in the Bison City Stakes.
“Ontario is a great racing jurisdiction,” said Liam O’Rourke, Director of Bloodstock Services with WinStar Farm. “It’s a long meet with a lot of options with the two turf courses, and the tapeta. There is lots of racing and really good horsemen, so that’s a big attraction for us.”
O’Rourke, an Ontario native, was working at Adena Springs when Silent Name (JPN) began standing in Ontario. So, when the opportunity arose to purchase Strega’s dam Set to Dance O’Rourke jumped at it.
“The package was there; a great family, a Distorted Humor mare in-foal to Silent Name (JPN), and we were able to buy her for a pretty reasonable price,” said O’Rourke. “It was a big-time opportunity to buy a mare with a lot of the elements we look for.”
Two-year-old Silent Name (JPN) colt Phillip My Dear was the top freshman male, banking over $400,000 and inserting himself into the 2023 King’s Plate discussion with his Cup and Saucer victory. Bred by Adena Springs he was also a hard fought third in the Coronation Futurity, and finished on the board in the Gr. 1 Pattison Summer Stakes, a win-and-you’re in Breeders’ Cup race.
The final divisional champion was two-year-old filly Anam Cara. Bred by Michael C. Byrne, Anam Cara is by Colebrook Farms stallion Frac Daddy. She made six starts in 2022, winning the $200,000 Muskoka and earning two more on the board finishes against stakes company.
In total, twelve different breeders received awards, across the four categories.
Leading Ontario Sire Silent Name (JPN) led the way with five top-three finishers, while Souper Speedy had two. Reload, Frac Daddy, Society’s Chairman, Sligo Bay (IRE), and Big Screen had one each.
The full list of Ontario Sired Reward of Excellence Program recipients is available here
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