Paramount Prince was dominant in the $150,000 Plate Trial, the last key prep for the King’s Plate on August 20.
His victory was thrilling for all the connections, including breeder Ericka Rusnak.
Rusnak, a resident of Stouffville, has been breeding thoroughbreds for close to 20 years, and Paramount Prince is the first of her horses that if all goes right will be a major contender in the opening jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown.
“I’m almost getting emotional thinking about that,” Rusnak said. “I mean how many breeders are there in Ontario, and they only get to compete once as three-year-olds. It really is astounding. Even the chance to get there is magical and a dream.”
Paramount Prince’s story begins in 2017 at the Keeneland January Sale, where Rusnak purchased his dam Platinum Steel from the Denali Stud consignment for $25,000 USD. She liked the look of the mare after seeing her in the back walking ring and went to the limit of her budget to bring her home.
Rusnak brought her back to Ontario, foaled out her Kantharos baby, and bred her to Giant Gizmo in 2018, before sending her to Society’s Chairman in 2019. That 2020 Society’s Chairman foal was Paramount Prince.
“I was trying to stay away from Storm Bird bloodlines, but I wanted to get Northern Dancer,” Rusnak said. “I like Society’s Chairman, and of course, he’s had a lot of success as a stallion here in Ontario. I liked his pedigree, and I liked how it crossed with hers.”
From the outset, Paramount Prince had a strong temperament. He was strong-willed and was the instigator with her only other foal from that year. He also showed his athleticism early, and Rusnak thought she might have a special one.
Michael Langlois purchased Paramount Prince at the 2021 Canadian Premier Yearling Sale after he didn’t meet his $24,900 reserve price. Rusnak was worried about having to take care of the big strong colt all by herself, and they settled on a price of $21,000 CAD.
For many breeders, the direct financial gain from a horse ends at the sale, but thanks to Ontario Racing’s Thoroughbred Improvement Program’s Breeders Awards Rusnak has continued to profit from Paramount Prince’s on-track achievements. His Plate Trial win was worth $14,400 CAD.
“With his success, he’s paying it forward constantly, and every time he’s picking up a cheque it helps,” said Rusnak. “That aside, the black type is a huge benefit for the mare. It makes her pedigree so much stronger. Her half-brother is very successful in Kentucky, but to see her producing black type that’ll never go away and will help all of the siblings it’s fantastic.”
With two previous on-the-board finishes in stakes races, Paramount Prince had already put black type on his dam’s page, but the Plate Trial was his first stakes win, and Rusnak didn’t truly process the meaning of the victory until she was driving home from Woodbine Racetrack that night.
“It really hit me what he had achieved and all the emotions that really run through you,” Rusnak said. “It brought me to tears truly. It’s magical. It’s what everyone wants. Everyone in the industry that is associated with these amazing animals wants to be a part of a horse that is this good.”
Photo: Platinum Steel and Paramount Prince. (Photo courtesy of Ericka Rusnak)