Bernard McCormack of Cara Bloodstock
This isn’t Bernard McCormack’s first time around the block with a top contender in the Queen’s Plate.
His Cara Bloodstock consignment has handled two winners of the Canadian classic at auction over the past six racing seasons, along with one winner each from the other two legs of the country’s Triple Crown.
McCormack will have a solid chance to add another Queen’s Plate to his resume on Sunday at Woodbine in Hall of Dreams, a Lemon Drop Kid gelding who enters the race off a runner-up effort in the Plate Trial Stakes on July 24.
Hall of Dreams was part of the Cara Bloodstock consignment during the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, and he finished under his reserve with a final bid of $27,000.
“He was probably the best horse of his crop,” McCormack said, comparing him to the rest of the Cara Bloodstock slate that year. “We liked his scope. The only reason he didn’t sell is Lemon Drop Kid is kind of not a pinhooker’s horse anymore at his age, and the end-users that were there probably weren’t looking for a turfy kind of horse.”
Hall of Dreams, out of the unplaced Horse Chestnut mare Hallnor, was kept to race by breeder Joe Guerrieri’s Joey Gee Thoroughbreds and placed in the barn of trainer Andrew Smith.
After a forgettable debut on the Woodbine turf, Hall of Dreams was moved to the Tapeta main track, and he unveiled what would become his signature closing kick to finish second.
It wasn’t a winning effort, but it still turned heads. After the race, Hall of Dreams was sold privately to a partnership including Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch, and Leonard Schleifer, and he was moved to trainer Mark Casse’s barn. He’d break his maiden four starts later going 1 1/8 miles, leading to his Plate Trial effort.
Even as a yearling, McCormack said Hall of Dreams was built to be a colt that got better as he got older and the races got longer. Moving the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate to August from its previous spot earlier in the summer, he surmised, would only work to the gelding’s advantage.
“I remember him as beautiful, big, and long-legged for a Lemon Drop Kid,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he came running in the 10th furlong. He showed a lot in his second race as a 2-year-old. He came running at 1 1/16 miles, and he looked like a two-turn horse. When you break down the 10 furlongs, they’re either going to get the distance or they’re not, and he figured on being a 10-furlong type.
“He won’t be the favorite, but if you want to look down the field and think there might be a horse for the 10th furlong, I’d keep him in your superfectas, for sure,” he continued.
Cara Bloodstock, based at McCormack’s Mapleshade Farm in Janetville, Ontario, specializes in selling for clients based in the province at sales in both Canada and the U.S. He’s perennially a leading consignor at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) Canadian Premier Yearling Sale, and his shingle has hung in Book 1 sessions at Keeneland, as well as Fasig-Tipton’s elite Saratoga Select Yearling Sale and November Mixed Sale.
Prior to going out on his own, Irish-born McCormack was general manager of Windfields Farm, where he managed the stud careers of prominent names including Deputy Minister and Vice Regent.
McCormack handled two-thirds of last year’s Canadian Triple Crown during their time at the sales.
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Queen’s Plate winner Safe Conduct sold as a weanling to owner WellSpring Stables for $45,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. He then consigned 2021 Breeders’ Stakes winner British Royalty as an unraced 2-year-old at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale, where the horse went to Patrice Miller/EQB, agent, for $30,000.
In 2016, McCormack saw a product of his own breeding program, Sir Dudley Digges, triumph in the Queen’s Plate after selling as a weanling for $72,000. A year later, another graduate of the Mapleshade Farm breeding program hit it big when Cool Catomine took the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. That winner was sold at the CTHS Ontario Canadian Premier Yearling Sale for US$29,305.
“We’ve been lucky enough to sell two Queen’s Plate winners in recent times,” McCormack said. “The first feeling was the best, because we bred the horse (Sir Dudley Digges), and the second feeling was happiness for one of my very best clients bred the horse and sold him (Safe Conduct). If Hall of Dreams is in the Plate, and I hoped he would be, hopefully he’d give a good account of himself.”