Quality Over Quantity For Warrawee

Published: January 29, 2019 08:06 pm EST

Call it a boutique nursery, call it a small breeding operation. No matter the terms used to describe Warrawee Farm, one of the finalists for the Armstrong Breeder of the Year at the 2018 O'Brien Awards, one word can certainly summarize their work: successful.

Owned and operated by Dr. Michael Wilson & Dr. Julie Yager, Warrawee Farm bred horses that earned more than $1.3 million in 2018 -- an impressive number given the farm doesn't own a large number of broodmares.

"We are a small farm of 16 mares," noted Dr. Wilson. "We have had the good fortune and luck to have some Ontario-bred mares that have produced racehorses that have been able to compete anywhere, including three world champions. They, together with high class helpers, are the basis for any success that Warrawee has had."

One of those three world champions is 2018 Dan Patch Award winner Warrawee Ubeaut, who became the fastest freshman pacer in the history of the sport with a sizzling 1:48.3 victory in the International Stallion Stakes at the Red Mile. A daughter of Sweet Lou - Great Memories, Warrawee Ubeaut is the first filly to be the fastest two-year-old pacer regardless of gender since Hall of Famer Miss Easy boasted that feat in 1990.

Wilson pointed to the exploits of Warrawee Ubeaut and older trotter Warrawee Roo as key factors for his farm's award-nominated season.

"Two horses have, I’m sure, led to this nomination. Warrawee Ubeaut and Warrawee Roo. 'Ubeaut', I am told, is the only filly in harness racing's 25 fastest two-year-olds, and she is the fastest. 'Roo', despite poor posts and bad luck, has performed really well at the highest level of aged trotters.

"'Ubeaut' won the Breeders crown for two-year-old filly pacers and 'Roo' came a fast-closing third in his aged trotter division. As a small breeder we couldn’t possibly expect more."

Ever the humble gentleman, Wilson's expectations don't necessary correlate to his breeding farm's record of success. Warrawee Farm was named Canada's Breeder of the Year in 2011 over Seelster Farms. Seven years later, those two operations return in pursuit of another Armstrong Breeder of the Year trophy. Wilson stated that he was "surprised and flattered" to be named a O'Brien Award finalist, "considering the competition." Competition that boasts two 2018 O'Brien Award finalists in rookie pacing colt Bronx Seelster and older male pacer finalist Nirvana Seelster.

As is his nature, Wilson astutely and accurately assessed all aspects of the package that placed Warrawee Farm within O'Brien Award consideration and ultimately as an award finalist as one of Canada's best.

"In the breeding business, as any other part of the racing business, success is a consequence of of a whole series of contributing efforts, all absolutely necessary," stated Wilson. "Mares, recently including Great Memories (dam of both Warrawee Ubeaut and Warrawee Needy, both world champions and Karoon (dam of Warrawee Roo). The farm Staff...Duane Avery, Michelle Coupland and Brooke Dean. Unsung heroes. Trainers, essential for the success of a breeder, Ron Burke (trainer of Warrawee Ubeaut) and Luc Blais (trainer of Warrawee Roo) and their grooms among others, and the great drivers! All big cogs in a wheel of many cogs. Every one essential. Thank you."

Standardbred Canada will present the 30th edition of the O’Brien Awards on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale Hotel. The black tie gala includes a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, wine, and complimentary portrait for the night's attendees.

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