By Kelly Waterhouse

BELWOOD – It’s been 50 years since the now famous Canadian –bred Thoroughbred NORTHERN DANCER earned his place in history as the first Canadian-born horse to win the Kentucky Derby. As the stage is being set for the May 3 running of the 140th anniversary of the prestigious race, another Canadian-raised horse will be among the pack, and it was born here on Grandview Farms, owned by Mike Carroll.

“WE MISS ARTIE, sired by ARTIE SCHILLER was foaled and raised here on the farm,” Carroll said, who owns the 100-acre farm that borders Wellington and Dufferin County. Since he started Grandview Farms in 1993, he says the property is home to approximately 25 brood mares at any time, with about 50 horses on the farm overall.

“We are a Thoroughbred breeding farm, a brood-mare operation,” he explained, noting that as a breeder, he has input in to the stallion selection process. “We foal and raise the horses, either for sale or for racing, and manage the horses completely for the owners.”

Carroll’s career in the industry began early. An avid equestrian rider in his youth, competing in the A Circuit of Hunter Jumper class, he was raised around horses.

“I got interested in Thoroughbreds and one thing just let to another,” Carroll said, admitting he rarely attends races. He is more apt to take part in horse show events.

“I really like Hunters and Jumpers. That’s my passion. It never leaves you.”

That passion transferred into a career with a resume that begins working for famed racehorse owner and tycoon Robert Sangster, before taking on the role of foreman in the brood mare division of Canada’s renowned Windfields Farm in Oshawa, owned by Canadian business magnate E.P. Taylor, and birthplace of NORTHERN DANCER. Carroll worked there from 1980 to 1988.

“It was a great experience, because it was busy. We would be foaling 200 foals a year and had 600 horses in our care,” Carroll said, noting he had an opportunity to meet NORTHERN DANCER once during his time with the organization.

The work at Windfields Farms encouraged him to begin his own operation on a much smaller scale. Beginning with a farm in Campbellville
The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society named Carroll and co-breeder John C. Harvey JR. the 2007 Breeder of the Year Award winners for their partnership in the home-bred champion MARYFIELD. She was the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner.

In her championship season, MARYFIELD won the Grade 2 Distaff Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Aqueduct and the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga. She earned the 2007 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Female Sprinter. But it was her upset victory over a sloppy track at Monmouth in the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint that made the horse a true champion, taking the win from the back of the pack, five wide at the top of the stretch, to a half-length victory over Miraculous Miss.

“It was a pretty special day, I’ll tell you that,” Carroll said recalling witnessing Breeders’ Cup win on a sloppy mud track with a firm base. “It’s beyond your wildest dreams. You never think it can happen to a little guy from Belwood. It just goes to show you should never give up on your dreams.”

Noting that he paid $10,000 for her sire, it was a bargain for a horse that would, at the height of her career, be sold by her owners for $1,250,000.

“MARYFIELD was one of only four Canadian-bred horses to win the Breeders’ Cup in the United States,” Carroll said. “She was a major race horse.”

MARYFIELD’s lifetime record was 9-5-1 from 28 starts and earnings of $1,334,331. She was inducted in to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Carroll also bred MRS. BEGAN, winner of the 2007 Princess Elizabeth Stakes held annually at Woodbine Race Track, with a purse of $250,000.

“We’ve been lucky. We’ve raised a number of good horses here,” Carroll said.

That’s an understatement, considering just two years ago Grandview Farms foaled and raised WEE MISS ARTIE and another champion in GO GREELEY.

“We had two major horses out of that foal crop,” Carroll said.

GO GREELY is the Canadian Two Year-Old Male Champion at the Sovereign Awards ceremony held at April 11 at Woodbine Racetrack, having won three sprint stakes during summer 2013: the Colin, Vandal and Simcoe stakes.

“WE MISS ARTIE recently won the $550,000 take in the (Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati) Spiral Stakes at Turf Way Park in Kentucky.”

WE MISS ARTIE is out of ATHENA’S GIFT, a Fusaichi Pegasus mare. The Grade 2 Spiral Stakes win increased his earnings to $609,000 and his record to three wins and two seconds in eight career starts. The horse, bred by Richard Lister and trained by Todd Pletcher, is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsay, an American couple who last year broke the Churchill Downs track record for most number of wins by an owner.

“He is also the Winterbook favourite to win the Queen’s Plate in Canada,” Carroll said. WE MISS ARTIE is the listed as the 4-1 favourite in the race, which leads him to the Triple Crown.

Carroll isn’t sure if he’ll be there to see WE MISS ARTIE cross the finish line, as it’s foaling season and things on the farm are busy, with six new foals born just last week and more to come, including a foal scheduled to arrive near May 3, Derby Day.

He credits the support of his farm assistant, Harry OudeVossar, for being the reason the work is manageable.

“He’s a great guy who grew up around horses in Holland. We’ve worked together for years,” Carroll said. “I couldn’t do this without Harry.”

Recognizing it’s a difficult time in the horse industry, Carroll’s goal is to maintain his standards for breeding quality horses.

“Most farms are struggling, but we just try to do things right. And we have really good owners,” Carroll said. “When a shores leaves your farm, that is your best advertisement.”

Carroll says the best part of his work comes at the end of each day, when it’s less about the work and more about the love for the horses.

“It’s the quiet time with the horses, on a one-to-one basis,” he said. “Thoroughbreds are smart. They’re very intelligent and thoughtful. They may be a little high strung, but they are intelligent.”

As a business, he knows the day will come when those horse leave his care and head off to careers of their own.

“It’s just about taking the moment to enjoy the horses, or enjoy the horse’s accomplishments on the race track. That’s nice.”