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Alicorn Ready To Rumble

Published: May 14, 2020 8:14 pm ET

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Pound for pound, when it came to two-year-old pacing fillies they didn’t come any tougher than the O’Brien Award-winning Alicorn.

What the diminutive daughter of Bettors Delight-Mythical lacked in size, she more than made up for in fierceness, talent and toughness once she stepped foot on the track. Alicorn racked up a brilliant record that read 7-4-0 from 13 starts, and that record translated into earnings of $536,907 for the partnership of Windermere Stable LLC and Robert Muscara. The season culminated with an O'Brien Award as Canada's Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in 2019.

Left to right: Louis-Philippe Roy, Megan Waterman, David MacKenzie, General Manager of Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside Raceway (presenting), trainer Chantal Mitchell, Kris Dicenzo, Reiley Murphy and Brooke MacPherson.

After enjoying a well-deserved winter holiday in the Carolinas, Alicorn made her way back to the barn of trainer Chantal Mitchell in early March and upon returning the conditioner immediately liked what she saw in her stable star.

“She has filled out quite a bit over the winter,” Mitchell told Trot Insider. “But she’s pretty much the same ‘Miss Alicorn Attitude’ all the time.”

That attitude isn't a negative trait by any means, just enough attitude to make Alicorn the determined diva that she is.

“It’s funny actually. She looks sweet and usually catches people off guard,” said Mitchell. “I’ll warn everyone ‘Watch her, she bites’ and as soon as they aren’t paying attention she grabs them. It usually ends with an 'I told ya so' from me.

“The sharper she gets, the more you have to be careful. So right now she’s in top shape and ready to race. She’s firing on all cylinders in the barn.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot of trainers scrambling to alter training schedules, and Mitchell found herself on that list when it came to Alicorn.

“We were scheduling to make her first start in the SBOA, which the final I believe was this week,” claimed Mitchell. “So the only things I’ve had to adjust with training are slow down a bit, leave some more time in between fast works and just maintain fitness. Actually, Louis [driver Louis-Philippe Roy] came out last Saturday and trained her in :56 just trying to keep some speed in her legs.

“There’s a fine line that we have to be aware of with training and over training,” added Mitchell. “So I’m just trying to be aware of her fitness while trying to keep her happy and healthy whilst we await the go ahead to start racing.”

There’s also a fine art to having horses on their toes just in time for big races, and Mitchell is fully aware of how difficult that will be under these circumstances when everything is still so up in the air with a return to racing imminent but a stakes schedule in disarray.

“It’s tough just to keep racehorses race ready and also preparing young horses that were just going to begin racing when the shut down came,” she said. “Then going from having a schedule to work with to nothing at all makes it tough to get horses to come to their peak when we have those big stakes in the horizon, as well.

“I definitely don’t envy the job that the race secretary and those that are involved in rescheduling races because it’s going to be a huge job trying to redo the stakes schedules.”

Not only are trainers scrambling to have their horses ready now that the word ‘go’ is given for racing, but the bigger problem is what stake races will carry on and which ones could fall by the wayside. It’s a problem Mitchell knows is a reality facing her and her filly.

“I don’t really know what races were going to be able to hit now,” she said. “I’d imagine there will be more overlap with some of the races now. With no racing in May and likely some of June [in some jurisdictions] they will run out of calendar space. So we’ll just have to see how everything plays out. But we have her paid into the Lynch, Mistletoe Shalee, Breeders Crown and the Matron. So as long as she cones back to be competitive in the Grand Circuit, hopefully we’ll get to race in some of the big ones.”

Mitchell’s 17-horse outfit includes a number of other hopefuls for stakes this summer, and she -- like everyone else -- is getting the itch to get back to work on race nights.

“I’m extremely anxious to get back racing,” she admitted. “We have a handful of promising looking three-year-old maidens that didn’t make it last year for a mixed number of reasons, but I’m looking forward to finding out what type of racehorses they can be. And at the moment we have a group of two-year-olds that are doing everything right so that’s always exciting. And of course I’m hyped to bring Alicorn back to the track. She gave us so many great memories last year and I can’t wait to see what she will accomplish in 2020.”

Mitchell plans have her name in the program when racing does return to Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 5 and is hopeful that announcements are made for the smaller tracks as well.

“If we don’t have to qualify the horses that were racing at the time of the shutdown I’ll have a few that will be ready to drop in to race that weekend," said Mitchell. “If not they have to qualify along with five others that will be ready to go as soon as we get the first qualifying date.”

In the meantime, Mitchell's focus and the focus of her crew will be staying safe and healthy.

“We’re doing our best to keep the number of people in the barn down during the day,” she admitted. “We’re as respectful to the six-foot rule as we possibly can with horses. And try to keep things clean so we can all maintain our health.”

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