By Chris Lomon/Woodbine Communications

TORONTO, November 11, 2023 – Millie Girl, under Rafael Hernandez, made it two straight Grade 3 triumphs after taking the $150,00 Maple Leaf Stakes.

Trained by Catherine Day Phillips, who co-owns (through her Kingfield Racing Stable, Ltd.) with Braconcrest Inc. and Apricot Valley Thoroughbreds, the 5-year-old daughter of Hard Spun-Mendocino Beano entered the Maple Leaf off a hard-fought head score in the Ontario Matron (G3) on October 14. 

The horse who won her first two starts, both on turf, last summer at Woodbine, was just as impressive this time. 

Sent off as the 6-5 choice in the1 ¼-mile Tapeta test for fillies & mares, 3-year-olds and upward, Millie Girl was near the back of the 12-horse field (Batyah was scratched) early. It was 64-1 Inventing who grabbed the lead, followed by Ever Smart and Il Malocchio, last year’s Maple Leaf winner, and clicked off an opening quarter in :23.69. 

Inventing widened her advantage over her closest pursuers to TK lengths through a half in :47.59, while Rafael Hernandez, aboard Millie Girl, was content to watch the proceedings from in tenth.

Still on top but holding a precarious lead swinging off the turn for home, Inventing was confronted by a host of closers, including Millie Girl, Solo Album, and Indy Champagne. It was Millie Girl who was travelling best of all, going from a charging fourth at the stretch call to a comfortable two-length winner. Solo Album was second, a length in front of Angelou. Indy Champagne was fourth. 

The final time was 2:03.53. 

“I tried to be as close as I could to the rail to save ground,” said Hernandez. “It was a big field, so I just tried to keep it clear, same situation with so many horses. I had her where I wanted. I didn’t want to be too far back. I want to be involved a little bit in the race. I know she always gives me everything. She showed up today like last time and gave her whole heart.” 

“She’s such a special filly, she’s a little quirky as you could see,” added Day Phillips. “She behaved better today in the winner’s circle but then had enough. When she’s had enough, she’s had enough. She’s very strong-willed.”

Bred by Sean Fitzhenry, the dark bay mare, who was contesting her fifth consecutive graded affair, has never finished lower than third in her 10-race career, posting a 5-2-3 mark. 

“Our plan is to race her next season and we’re looking forward to it,” noted Day Phillips, of the $67,000 (U.S.) Keeneland Association November Breeding Stock Sale purchase in 2021.   

Millie Girl paid $4.50 for the win.