Racing Royalty: Millie Girl Crowned Champion Older Main Track Female

Article by Chris Lomon

Record: 11 starts 5-2-3

Purse earnings: $362,895 (U.S.)

Sire: Hard Spun

Dam: Mendocino Beano

Foaled: April 22, 2018

Age: 6

Colour: Dark Bay

Owners: Kingfield Racing Stable Ltd., Braconcrest Inc., and Apricot Valley Thoroughbreds

Breeder: Sean Fitzhenry

Groom: Kevin Pena Salgado

Need to Know: Won consecutive Grade 3 races (Ontario Matron, Maple Leaf) in 2023; is a Sovereign Award finalist in the Champion Older Main Track Female category; her dam, Mendicino Beano, is a finalist in the Outstanding Broodmare category.

Work in progress: “She found one way or another not to get to the races in a timely manner. It exhausted a lot of people’s patience, but we all felt very strongly about her as a racehorse. We were determined not to let her get out of our hands. We bought her back and put a little ownership group together and that is how she stayed in our barn.”

“We had a lot of trouble with her at the gate – she is very strong-willed. When she doesn’t want to do something, you can’t make her do it. A lot of negotiating has gone on with her throughout her career. She had always shown ability. By the time she was four, life got a little easier for all of us.”

Hitting her best stride: “She got better and better with each race. For her to win at the beginning of the year was great. To see her become Grade 2 stakes-placed [Nassau] was a big deal and then it went on from there. When she won the [Grade 3] Matron, it was so satisfying. She deserved to be a stakes winner. You could also see she enjoyed racing. It was nice to see her with her ears pricked and enjoying running.”

“Looking back on her races, it is her versatility that stands out for me. She has run very well on the all-weather track, the turf – she tries hard no matter what. She’s run well going 6 ½ furlongs and won a stakes race [Grade 3 Maple Leaf] going a mile and a quarter.”

Millie Girl and jockey Rafael Hernandez winning the Maple Leaf Stakes on November 11, 2023 at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)


Plenty of personality: “Millie is now the queen of everything, but I think she thought she was the queen before she even ran. She has her favourites. She has people she likes and people she doesn’t like. When she doesn’t like something, she is very clear about it. She has always been that way. Her strong personality is her greatest strength.”

“Michael Moore, who works for us, has liked her from day one, and she has always really liked him. Her groom over the last few years, Kevin Salgado, they have a mutual understanding and respect of one another.”

“When we bring her to the winner’s circle, she’ll only take so much. At some point, she’ll decide that’s not where she wants to be any more and she’ll get mad. That’s just her.”

Back to the backstretch: “She had a very quiet winter. Her coat is super furry. She got turned out with her friend at the farm and enjoyed her time off. The day we shipped into Woodbine, and we brought the bandages out and a fuzzy to put on her halter, she practically jogged to the van. Since we got her here, she’s been all business. She marches out to the track and stares everybody down – she is happy to be back in training.”

A good friend: “She really liked Declan [jockey, Carroll] and he did a lot of work with her at the beginning, getting her to the races. We are certainly grateful for that. She would see him when he came into the paddock, and you could tell she liked him. There was always a look of approval.”

Rafi earns his stripes: “When Declan stopped riding at Woodbine, Rafael [Hernandez] picked up the mount. I remember he walked out into the paddock in our colours, and you could see the look on Millie’s face that said, ‘And who are you? You are not my jockey.’ I thought, ‘This isn’t good.’ I told Rafi that he had to make friends with her. He started patting her and talking to her. By the time they were in post parade, her ears were up, and the bond had been made. She almost had this expression of, ‘Okay, now I like you.’ She ran a massive race for him. So, everything worked out okay.”

Food for thought: “She likes the man who delivers the giant bag of carrots each week.”

Millie Girl power: “We’re all so grateful to have her in our barn. She has her entourage, and she has that big personality.”