In this week’s report, trainer Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll looks back at her 2022 season and looks ahead to the upcoming 2023 Woodbine campaign.

Jock Talk: Rafael Hernandez

Stat pack

  • 2,961 career wins
  • 140 stakes victories
  • Top horses include Moira, Shaman Ghost, Pink Lloyd, Summer Sunday, Not So Quiet, Merveilleux, Skywire and Are You Kidding Me
  • Won 135 races in 2022, including 17 stakes, the third straight year he has reached that number. Notable 2022 wins include the Fury Stakes, Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate with Moira, Grade 2 Nassau with Crystal Cliffs (FR) (dead heat with Lady Speightspeare), Grade 2 Royal North with Boardroom, Grade 2 Dance Smartly with Wakanaka (IRE) and Grade 3 Mazarine with Renegade Rebel.

Game plan

“Things have gone well riding at Turfway over the winter. I go back and forth between here and Canada, so on my off days, I come home to spend time with my family. The last two years, I’ve come to ride in the States after the Woodbine season comes to an end. I try to take two weeks to relax and then I want to start working again. By the start of January, I get that feeling of wanting to start riding again. I like to have that bit of time off between the end of the Woodbine season and the new year to recharge and relax, and to give my body and mind a little rest.”

Plenty on the Plate, Part 1

“I still watch highlights of the Queen’s Plate. I think it’s always going to be one of my top memories, winning the Plate with Moira. We also won the Woodbine Oaks with her too, so to be able to win those with [trainer] Kevin Attard makes it extra special. He had been trying to win the race for so many years and to see how happy he was and how much he deserved it, that really meant a lot to me. When I first worked her, Kevin didn’t tell me anything about her. When I got back, I said, ‘Who is this horse?’ She was amazing. We had a good connection from the start. After that first work, I just fell in love. She does everything professionally and she’s a dream horse for me. Hopefully, she can get Horse of the Year and the other Sovereign Awards (3-year-old female and turf female).”

Plenty on the Plate, Part 2

“I won the 2015 Queen’s Plate with Shaman Ghost and at the time, I knew it was a big race and one you wanted to win, but since that time and the more I’ve ridden at Woodbine, the more you learn to appreciate just how important this race is and what it means. It’s so hard to find a horse that can win this race, to win on that day. I’ve been lucky to have won it twice. Now, I want to win the King’s Plate this year. We won the last Queen’s Plate – you never know when the next time it will be named that – and I would love to win the first King’s Plate (since 1951). It would be so special to win the last Queen’s Plate and first King’s Plate.”

Back in the saddle

“It was tough mentally and physically, the injury that I had near the end of the season at Woodbine. It ended up being a few broken ribs after the accident during the race, and whenever I would cough, it would hurt. I lost a lot of horses and a lot of them won over the next three days, so it was tough to not be out there. At least it was the end of the season, and now we’re healthy. It could have been a lot worse, so I’m grateful to be back. I always try to be positive. It is what it is. This is part of the game, unfortunately, but we all know that.”

Finish line

“If I want to relax, I like to go on vacation to where there is a nice beach. I like to go with my family and have fun together. But I only like it to be about five days or a week, so I can come back fresh. If I go too long away from riding and being around the horses, I miss it. Two weeks is too much. I love what I do. I don’t look at it like a job. When you do something that you love it’s not a job. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and do this for many, many years.”