TORONTO, September 16, 2023 – Patches O’Houlihan, under Daisuke Fukumoto, fended off a furious late charge from a pair of rivals to take Saturday’s $150,000 Vigil Stakes (G3), one of four stakes on Turf Champions Day at Woodbine.
A 3-year-old son of Reload-Maythefourthbwithu, Patches O’Houlihan arrived at the six-furlong main track race for 3-year-olds and up with five straight wins to his name.
The bay gelding had to work overtime to keep the streak going.
Rockcrest, breaking from the inside post, was joined quickly on the front end by Patches O’Houlihan, the duo taking their six rivals through an opening quarter in :22.31, followed by My Buddy B and Last American Exit.
It was Rockcrest who held a head advantage over Patches O’Houlihan at the half-mile juncture reached in :44.32, as Last American Exit moved into third, a head in front of My Buddy B, as the pace noticeably quickened into the turn for home.
Rockcrest dug in gamely along the rail, while Patches O’Houlihan and Fukumoto ratcheted up the pressure to the outside. Last American Exit, at 31-1, and Secret Reserve, at 12-1, arrived on the scene late and took dead aim on the dueling frontrunners.
At the wire, Patches O’Houlihan bested Last American Exit by a nose. Secret Reserve was a further head back, with Rockcrest another neck behind in fourth.
The final time for six furlongs on the Tapeta was 1:09.16.
“This horse likes the company,” said Fukumoto. “Today, he was pretty quiet, but was real sharp last time. He was calm today and followed the inside horse nicely. When the stretch came, I had confidence because he likes company.”
Bred and owned by Frank Di Giuilio, Jr. and trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Robert Tiller, Patches O’Houlihan is now 7-0-0 from eight starts. It was fourth stakes triumph and second straight graded win for the Ontario-bred, who arrived at the Vigil off a 1 ¼-length victory in the Bold Venture (G3) on August 20.
He paid $4.40 for the win.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms