TORONTO, September 29, 2022 – Nine 3-year-olds, including four who contested the Queen’s Plate, will go postward this Sunday at Woodbine in the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, third jewel in the OLG Canadian Triple Crown.
The final jewel of the tri-surface series for Canadian-bred sophomores concludes on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course with the longest leg at the distance of 1 ½ miles.
A son of Pioneerof the Nile-Dance Again, bred and owned by Sam-Son Farm, Dancin in Da’nile was fifth to Moira in the Queen’s Plate and didn’t contest the second jewel, the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, at 1 3/16 miles over Fort Erie’s dirt course on September 13, a race won by Duke of Love.
“I think he got really far back,” said trainer Gail Cox, of the Plate trip. “He was behind, got stuck in traffic and really couldn’t go anywhere, so it left him with a lot to do at the end. He did come with a nice late rush, he came out of the race really well, and he’s been training well heading into this one.”
Dancin in Da’nile has six career starts under his saddle, highlighted by a victory in his career bow on August 29, 2021, and a second in the Coronation Futurity last October.
The colt was fourth in his first try over the grass, in his second start, the Cup and Saucer Stakes, a 1 1/6-mile test over yielding ground that saw Dancin in Da’nile close well after encountering traffic trouble at the head of the E.P. Taylor.
On June 12, in his 3-year-old debut, he took on 10 foes in a 1 1/6-mile allowance race on Woodbine’s Inner Turf, and finished third, three-quarters of a length behind the winner.
Cox is hoping the third time on the turf is the charm.
“I think he loves the turf. The race this year was his first start back against older horses and he did get bounced around at the top of the lane. I don’t think it [mile and a half distance] will be an issue. It’s far, but I think he can handle it. He’s a much more mature horse now. He’s more focused. He’s always handled everything well, which is something that has remained the same.”
Sam-Son is no stranger to Breeders’ success having won the race on six occasions. Twenty years ago, Portcullis took all the spoils. The stable’s first Breeders’ victory came with Hangin On A Star in 1987.
Dual hall of fame conditioner Mark Casse will have two chances to win his third Breeders’, having won in 2007 with Marchfield and in 2018 with Neepawa.
This year, he’ll be represented by Hall of Dreams, second in both the Plate Trial and Queen’s Plate, and Sir for Sure, first in the Plate Trial and third in the Plate.
Owned by Gary Barber, Peter Deutsch, Wachtel Stable and Leonard Schleifer, Hall of Dreams, a son of Lemon Drop Kid-Hallnor, will try out the turf for the first time on Sunday.
Sporting a record of 1-5-0 from eight starts, the chestnut gelding, bred by Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, was slated to run on the grass in his debut last October, but the race was taken off the grass and run on the Tapeta.
“We breezed Hall of Dreams on the dirt before the Prince of Wales, and just felt that he handled it okay,” said Casse. “He’s bred up and down for the grass, so we decided to bypass the race for the Breeders’ and he’s trained very well for it.”
Fashioning a mark of 2-1-1 from seven starts, Sir for Sure, a bay son of Sligo Bay (IRE)-Serena’s Rose, has yet to race over the grass.
Casse is hopeful the gelding, bred and owned by René Hunderup, can take to the green scene.
He believes Sir for Sure, who lost his rider on the first turn in the Prince of Wales, will be up to the task.
“The original plan was to run Sir for Sure in the Prince of Wales, and we all know how that went,” said Casse. “But he came out of it fine. The biggest thing we do know about the Breeders’ is that both Sir for Sure and Hall of Dreams will relish the mile and a half. That’s a big factor as far as turf goes. You just don’t know for sure. Both their breeding says turf, but what the breeding says and what they do can be two different things. They’re both doing well heading into the race and hopefully they both have a good race on Sunday.”
The same connections of Queen’s Plate winner Moira, trainer Kevin Attard and ownership group X-Men Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC, and SF Racing LLC, will send out Gaston.
Bred in Ontario by Saintsbury Farms Inc., the son of Hard Spun-Bola de Cristal (IRE) broke his maiden in his most recent start, a 1 1/16-mile race on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Unraced at two, the dark bay colt just missed in his debut, finishing second in a 6-furlong Tapeta race at the Toronto oval.
Gaston brings a record of 1-2-0 from four starts into the Breeders’.
“He’s a nice, little horse,” said Attard. “He ran well first time out and then came back with somewhat of a letdown performance in his second start. We tried him on the turf, which he’s bred for, and he ran a good second that day. It was actually on Queen’s Plate day when he broke his maiden. He’s a horse that’s bred to run the mile and a half distance, so we’re excited. He definitely gets over the turf very well. He relaxes well and he waits for the rider to ask him, then kicks in. In a race like this, you need a horse with that running style.”
A win by Gaston would deliver Attard his first Breeders’ victory.
“It’s a race I haven’t won, so it would be nice to knock it off the to-do list.”
The last Triple Crown winner was the brilliant Wando, just the seventh horse to complete the series sweep when he won the 2003 Breeders’ Stakes with jockey Patrick Husbands aboard for trainer Michael Keogh and late owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz.
Since then, A Bit O’Gold (2004), Pender Harbour (2011) and Tone Broke (2019) also claimed two-thirds of the Triple Crown by taking the last two legs. In 2020, Belichick won the Breeders’, denying stablemate Mighty Heart a Triple Crown sweep.
The longest shot to win the Breeders’ was Miami Deco in 2010. The Ontario-bred son of Limehouse returned $132.10 for a $2 win bet. Catherine Day Phillips became the first female trainer to win the race courtesy of A Bit O’Gold in 2004. One year later, she was in the winner’s circle again, this time with Jambalaya. Roger Attfield holds the record for most wins by a trainer with nine. His first came with Carotene in 1986.
Post time is set for 1:10 p.m. ET, with the Breeders’ Stakes scheduled as the ninth race (approximately 5:38 p.m. ET). The race will be broadcast live from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET on TSN2.
FIELD FOR THE BREEDERS’ STAKES (RACE 9)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Lac Macaza – Luis Contreras – Julia Carey
2 – Gaston – Kazushi Kimura – Kevin Attard
3 – Hall of Dreams – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
4 – Ice Road – Jason Hoyte – Mike Dunslow
5 – Shamateur – Sahin Civaci – Sid Attard
6 – Collaborative – Leo Salles - Ravendra Raghunath
7 – Dancin in Da’nile – Rafael Hernandez – Gail Cox
8 – Duke of Love – Justin Stein – Josie Carroll
9 – Sir for Sure – Declan Carroll – Mark Casse
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms