Dorothy has always loved horses and rode them when she was a little girl. When she met and married Sean, he recalls a promise to his new bride that one day he would buy her a riding horse. Close to three decades later the Fitzhenrys do indeed own and have owned several horses just not of the pleasure riding variety.
While Sean attended the races at Woodbine every now and again with his buddies, it was Debbie & Dennis Brown who brought the Fitzhenrys into the buisness. Cheering on the Brown’s racehorse, No Comprende, in early 2000’s, the talented gelding took them all on a journey as he competed in stakes and graded stakes races at Laurel, Hawthorne, Saratoga, Oaklawn and Woodbine racetracks.
Sean and Dorothy were hooked and they bought a couple of horses themselves to race yet it was the breeding side of the sport that proved intriguing and eventually yielded a new way of life for the couple.
The Fitzhenrys are fully immersed in commercial breeding of Thoroughbred racehorses with Sean getting out of the commercial real estate business to pursue his passion. They keep a total of ten broodmares. If at any time a new filly or mare is added it will be to upgrade and replace one of the ten in an effort to continually improve the quality of their stock.
All of the mares are bred to Kentucky stallions and their resulting foals are born in Ontario then run through the sale as yearlings in Kentucky with a reserve value. If the bidding falls short of the reserve, the Fitzhenrys bring the horse back to Canada to race themselves with Trainer Catherine Day Phillips.
Breeding with an eye toward selling, the Fitzhenrys have enjoyed success thus far, most notably the Ontario bred Marketing Mix by Medaglia d’Oro out of the Fitzhenry’s Kris S mare, Instant Thought. A winner of more than $2 million, Marketing Mix, won the Wonder Where, G2 Nassau and G2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine as well as G1 Rodeo Dr. and Gamely Stakes and was second in the 2012 G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Additional breeding fame has come from their Montjeu (IRE) mare Game, purchased for $27,000 she has produced Broken Game (Broken Vow) a multiple stakes and award winner in Peru for owners Stud 9000, and Wonder Where Stakes winner Season Ticket (Lemon Drop Kid) for owners Woodford Racing LLC, trained by Mark Casse.
Other notable Fitzhenry bred horses include:
4 year-old gelding, Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew – Moonlit Mistress, by Deputy Minister), stakes placed and recent winner at Woodbine for owner Preston Stables LLC, trained by Roger Attfield.
Graded stakes placed home-bred mares; Dixie Chicken (Rahy – Minnie’s Meadow), has now produced two-year-old Guy Caballero (Quality Road), a recent starter at Woodbine for Sean and Dorothy, trained by Catherine Day Phillips, with her 2015 foal, a filly by Curlin, representing a third generation of Fitzhenry breeding and Catherine Day Phillips training; And mare Mendocino Beano (Smart Strike) has produced recent MSW winner Conquest Fleetfeet (Afleet Alex); and yet to race 2 year old Stallion Heiress (Exchange Rate).
“We have been improving and refreshing our brodmare band and our breeding operation is slowly starting to come around to the place we need to be. If I take any of them home from the yearling sale I am going to race them. Being very good friends with Richard Day, racing with Catherine was an easy connection.”
The Fitzhenrys are currently racing recent winner, Gilded Splinters, 3 year-old filly by Henrythenavigator – Minnie’s Meadow, by Affirmed; and soon to race, 3 year-old filly, Talk and Suspicion by Mineshaft – Oval Cut, by El Prado (IRE); as well as 2 year-olds Guy Caballero, Mr. Havercamp by Court Vision – Tennessee Lamb, by Medaglia d’Oro and his 3 year-old full brother Tallboy Tuesday, a winner in his first start.
“Catherine is a great horsewoman with exceptional attention to detail. She has a very good staff and you won’t see a horse in her barn that isn’t perfect when going to race.”