Woodbine trainer loses his prize filly following her big win

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Veteran Woodbine trainer Nathan Squires was thrilled with the performance of his filly Cairo Consort at the Breeders’ Cup this month. But a couple of days after the race, Squires felt as though he was punched in the stomach.

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Cairo Consort placed an impressive third in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf stakes on Nov. 4 – the world championships of horse racing. A huge accomplishment for the long-shot grey filly from Canada.

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“I knew she would race very well. Nothing phases her,” Squires told the Toronto Sun this week. “People in horse racing know that there’s lot of horses out there with talent. But in these big races they have to have the mind-set, and she has that. And she proved it and it was no surprise to me that she ran very well.”

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Two days after the big race, the veteran conditioner was forced to say goodbye to what he described as the best horse he has ever trained. Following the Breeders’ Cup, Cairo Consort’s owner William B. Thompson Jr. sold the Kentucky-bred grey for an impressive $875,000 (US) to U.S.-based horsemen Mike Repole and Town & Country Racing. Squires knew that his prized filly would be sold after the Breeders’ but was hoping that the new owners, whomever they turned out to be, would allow him to keep training her. Alas, it seems that American Todd Pletcher will get that job. That’s part of the business of horse racing.

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Still, it’s a tough nut to swallow for Squires who not only trained Cairo Consort during her huge two-year-old season, but helped convince Thompson to buy her at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale for $95,000. Turned out to be quite an investment. In her first year of racing, Cairo Consort recorded two wins, a second and two thirds in six starts with winnings of $266,149 and then was sold for $875,000.

That’s a $1,141,149 return in one year after the initial investment of $95,000.

Needless to say, Squires, who runs a smallish operation at Woodbine with about a dozen horses, would have loved the opportunity to have trained Cairo Consort for her three-year-old season.

“I’m a small trainer trying to make it in a big world and she’s the best horse I’ve ever had,” said Squires. “Obviously when a horse like that leaves your barn, it’s a bit hard. But you’ve got to remember that sometimes you just have to turn the page and move on. She’s going to good connections and we will be rooting for her.”

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Squires, who has been conditioning horses at the Etobicoke oval for over 20 years after starting off as an assistant to the late Laurie Silvera, finished his 2022 Woodbine season on Nov.13 on a high note when his two-year-old gelding Prince of Ayrshire won a $53,200 maiden optional claiming race at Woodbine. He is already preparing for the off-season in Florida and the 2023 racing season.

“We move on and hopefully we can find another one or two like Cairo Consort and go to the Breeders’ Cup again,” Squires said.

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