08/03/2012 3:05PM

Woodbine: Day Phillips going for third Breeders' with Sammy Maudlin


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The current month already is looming as a memorable one for trainer Catherine Day Phillips, as Jambalaya, her multiple Grade 1 stakes winner, will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 16.

Jambalaya’s first major success came here in the 2005 Breeders’ Stakes, which Day Phillips also had won the previous year with A Bit O’Gold, and Sammy Maudlin will be looking to give the trainer a third Breeders’ victory when he goes postward here Sunday in the 1 1/2-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Sammy Maudlin will be making just his fourth start, all on the turf this season, and is coming into the $500,000 Breeders’ off his maiden win at 1 1/8 miles after being supplemented to the Breeders’ at a cost of $12,500.

“He’s maturing,” said Day Phillips, who trains the homebred Sammy Maudlin for Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry. “His muscles are developing. He’s looking like a proper racehorse.”

For Sammy Maudlin, it was not always thus.

“He was very, very big and immature as a yearling, and Sean decided not to break him until he was a 2-year-old,” said Day Phillips.

Sammy Maudlin did not record his first workout until Oct. 8 and breezed seven more times before the end of November.

“He showed enough that we decided to take him to Florida,” said Day Phillips, who has a farm in the Ocala area.

Sammy Maudlin, however, was not nominated to the Canadian triple crown at the Feb. 1 deadline.

“He was working three-eighths at that time, and he hadn’t shown enough,” said Day Phillips. “At that point, just getting him to the races seemed like a challenge. He took a while to come into his own. He wasn’t too impressive on dirt. He acted like he wanted to go long.”

Back at Woodbine, Sammy Maudlin continued his preparations.

“He’d started to come to life in his last two breezes at five furlongs,” said Day Phillips. “He always showed determination in his breezes. He tried very hard, and galloped out very strong.”

On May 19, Sammy Maudlin debuted at 1 1/16 miles and finished a closing second in a 14-horse field.

“I was thrilled with his first race,” said Day Phillips. “He was still a little soft-looking – he hadn’t put on racehorse muscle.”

Coming back three weeks later, and stretching out to 1 1/4 miles. Sammy Maudlin raced forwardly on a slow pace and just failed to stave off a closing Attendant, who came back to finish third in the Toronto Cup at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

“He was a little too aggressive early,” said Day Phillips. “He battled hard. He just ran greenly.”

Sammy Maudlin was been beaten a head as the runner-up that day but made no mistakes when he returned on July 15, coming from off the pace to score by three lengths.

“He trained well, and when ran back at 1 1/8 miles he was much, much more settled,” said Day Philllips. “He was a little green when he hit the front. He was ducking in and out a little bit.”

Despite Sammy Maudlin’s inexperience, Day Phillips is optimistic that the gelding can make his presence felt in the Breeders’.

“He has a lot of talent,” she said.

Show business tradition

Sammy Maudlin is named after the fictional Second City Television talk show host who was played by Joe Flaherty.

The Fitzhenrys have paid homage to other Second City characters with horses named Johnny La Rue, Billysol Hurok and Tommy Shanks (played by the late John Candy) and Sid Dithers (Eugene Levy). Those four horses were trained here by Jim Smith.

Rock music also has been a source of names for the Fitzhenrys and their horses currently with Day Phillips include the 5-year-old mare Dixie Chicken (Little Feat) and the 2-year-old filly Maydelle (Allman Brothers).

Day Phillips also trains Randyanna for the Fitzhenrys, who based that choice of moniker upon their observations of the 2-year-old filly’s disposition.

Wilcox tries again

Wilcox defeated Sammy Maudlin when graduating on May 26. He was making his second start there after an eight-place effort on Polytrack. Returning four weeks later, in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate, Wilcox was 11th. He will try again in the Breeders’.

“He came apart a little bit in the walking ring that day, with the crowd and all the TV cameras and everything,” said Josie Carroll, who trains the homebred Wilcox for Eugene Melnyk. “He got very washy. That wasn’t typical.”

Wilcox got back on turf here July 14 after the Queen’s Plate, and he was better in both the paddock and on the racetrack, where he was the runner-up in a first-level allowance race over 1 3/8 miles on turf.

“He came back very settled,” said Carroll. “I kept him in the inside paddock, and he ran a big race.

That last start gives Wilcox the distinction of being the only horse in the Breeders’ to have raced as far as 1 3/8 miles.

The winner that day was Miami Deco, who had recorded his first victory as a 65-1 shot in the 2010 Breeders’ and then was blanked in his next 11 starts.

Justin Stein, who rode Wilcox to his maiden win and in his last start, will be back in the irons for the Breeders’.

A victory would be a boost for Stein, who guided Strait of Dover to his impressive Queen’s Plate score and had been looking forward to continuing that partnership in the Breeders’. Strait of Dover, unfortunately, was sidelined by a suspensory injury that will keep him on the shelf for the rest of the season.

Buttigieg holding good hand

Owner/trainer/breeder Paul Buttigieg could dominate Monday’s Shepperton Stakes, with the multiple stakes winner Gypsy Ring and the up-and-coming Royal Egbert entered in the 6 1/2-furlong race.

The Shepperton, for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward, will be the feature on a 10-race holiday program that begins at 1 p.m.

Gypsy Ring, a 6-year-old gelding who has earned almost $700,000, employs a stalking style, while the 4-year-old gelding Royal Egbert possesses a very high turn of early foot.