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Petrova Gets Her Stallion

Published: October 13, 2020 2:08 pm ET

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Very often a young girl dreams of getting a pony for her very own. But how about a stakes winning breeding stallion?

Denitza Petrova of Melbourne, Quebec had those dreams of getting a horse as a child in communist Bulgaria. Later, her family moved to Quebec where she started riding lessons and eventually turned to harness racing where she had become a blossoming owner, trainer and breeder.

Then came the stallion Northern Escort and Petrova fell head over heels for the Ontario Sires Stakes champion.

Sired by Kadabra, Northern Escort was a top three-year-old on the Ontario circuit in 2012, a season in which he won eight times and banked more than $200,000 in purses. Having to overcome injuries the next few years, Northern Escort ended his racing career in 2016 with lifetime earnings of $280,000, 17 wins and a record of 1:55.3 over Yonkers Raceway’s half mile oval.

Petrova first saw Northern Escort at Yves Filion’s Bayama Farms in 2013.

“Yves had given him a break,” Petrova explained. “And he had bred a couple of his mares to him. I always followed him racing when he was two and three. I liked him. He never made breaks and raced well.

“I had bred my mare Majestic Joy to Justice Hall,” Petrova said. “But it did not take. It was mid-July and I wanted to get my mare bred, so Yves' son, Justin Filion, who was training the horse, suggested I breed her (Majestic Joy) to Northern Escort. But he was not a commercial stallion, just resting from an injury.

“So, I went to see the stallion and fell in love with him,” Petrova said. “He was the gentlest stallion you could ever be around. He was charming, perfect looking and I knew I loved this horse. Even without knowing how well his foals would race for me.

“The resulting breeding was Kinnder Dangerous and I was so happy with this perfect foal at birth," Petrova added. “So, as I raised him, he was just a perfect example of what we wanted in a trotter. And despite being a late foal, he made the races.”

Kinnder Dangerous went on to become a Quebec champion, taking a record of 1:58.1h at H3R and earning more than $75,000 before he tragically passed away.

“I liked him (Kinnder Dangerous) so much,” Petrova explained, “that I wanted to find Northern Escort and buy him, but he had been sold, but I found him. I wanted him (four years ago) as my stallion.

“I ended up getting another breeding to him in Indiana for Majestic Joy,” Petrova said, “and that next foal was Kinnder Dangerzone.”

The two-year-old son of Northern Escort went undefeated in four starts this year, taking a record of 2:01.1h, earning $38,200 and was the Quebec-bred champion for his age group.

But wait, more credit needs to go the broodmare Majestic Joy, as between Kinnder Dangerous and Kinnder Dangerzone, when Petrova did not know where Northern Escort was, there were two other foals born.

The second foal was named Kinderunbelievable, sired by Archangel. She went on to become a Quebec champion, too, last year, taking a record of 1:59.3h with earnings of $52,000.

Then there is the beautiful chestnut filly that Petrova named Kinnder High Class, and she was sired by Royalty For Life.

Although winless in seven starts as a two-year-old, Kinnder High Class showed she had promise as she was second in the $55,000 Quebec Championship. She then blossomed into a stakes winner at age three this season, winning seven times, earning more than $68,000, and setting a track record in capturing her Quebec championship final (one race after her half-brother won his division), with a lifetime mark of 1:58.1h.

Majestic Joy is now a 100 per cent producing mare with four Quebec champion foals and more on the way. Petrova has a yearling filly by Lindys Tru Grit from Majestic Joy. There is also a foal by her side, a colt, sired by Wheeling N Dealin and she is safe in foal to Muscle Mass and will, of course, be bred back to Northern Escort this winter.

(Left) Denitza Petrova, Franck Innocenti and Northern Escort. (Right) Majestic Joy (Images courtesy Benoît Pepin).

“I always had in the back of my mind that I would own him one day,” Petrova said of Northern Escort. “And now I am amazed how great his foals are for me. I wanted to get him somehow.

“I had told my boyfriend about Northern Escort,” Petrova laughed. “Maybe 20 times a day how much passion I had for him. He said 'go get him, you love him so much. Follow your heart, go ahead.' And I did it. I am so thankful he said this. And all this took place before Kinnder Dangerzone even raced and won the final.

“I asked him to be a partner with me on the horse,” Petrova said. “And he said 'yes.'”

Her boyfriend is Franck Innocenti, who happens to be the owner of Apzara, which runs national equestrian shows.

“So, I searched and found Northern Escort in New York,” Petrova said. “And I made a deal with the owner to purchase him and he was shipped to Toronto. Franck and I drove to Toronto and we picked him up. And then my dream came true when we brought him back to the farm.

“You could not imagine how happy I was,” Petrova said. “Like a ten-year-old girl getting her first pony.

“I have so much confidence in Northern Escort,” Petrova explained. “As much as any stallion in breeding commercially. We now want to get a few broodmares to breed to him and we want our foals to be both Ontario and Quebec eligible. I do not know yet if we will just breed our mares or breed outside mares.

“When I first had Northern Escort four years ago, my friend, Mona Lisa Pagliericci, who was managing her breeding farm in Quebec, wanted to see if he could mount a dummy and get his semen tested. When he came off the truck, Mona Lisa saw him and she said he was such a beautiful stallion.

“Then, the next week,” Petrova added, “Mona Lisa said he was just a sweetheart, took right to the dummy and was the gentlest horse and despite never being in the breeding shed before, he was perfect and also that his semen was very strong. Mona Lisa said that aside from her top stallion, Garland Lobell, he was the next best stallion she had ever worked with. I had to sell him and he went to Indiana. That was when I was able to breed him again to Majestic Joy and that foal was Kinnder Dangerzone.”

So, the stallion of Petrova’s dream is now back in her barn, and the next week his son goes undefeated and wins the Quebec championship final at Hippodrome 3R.

“I would dream of how great Kinnder Dangerzone could be and now before the Quebec finals,” Petrova explained. “I get the stallion and then win two finals. I was just so ecstatic that I cried for happiness. It was all so emotional, and both foals from the same mare. She now has three Quebec champions from two different stallions.

“What I also love about Northern Escort is that his foals have the same attitude as he does,” Petrova said. “Being gentle and wanting to race with a smart head. I bred one mare, who was very hot on the racetrack, yet her foal is calm, just like her father.

“I am just so excited to be able to now breed my mares to him,” Petrova said. “And to get another broodmare or two to join the band. It’s as if all my dreams have come true these past two weeks.”

And for those who do not know Petrova, she names all her foals 'Kinnder.' Why? Because as a child Petrova loved the Kinder Candy Eggs that come with a little toy inside. She has an extensive collection of all the toys and still giggles in excitement when she gets a new egg. Just like she does when she talks about getting her dream stallion.

(Quebec Jockey Club)

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