TORONTO, November 6, 2022 – Velocitor, at 21-1, took the lead early and then led every step of the way in the $253,000 Coronation Futurity, Sunday at Woodbine.
Prior to the race, Kevin Attard wasn’t quite sure whether Velocitor would be able to get the distance in the 1 1/8-mile event for 2-year-olds foaled in Canada.
The son of Mor-Spirit-Polar Plunge gave the trainer the answer he was hoping for.
Bred and owned by Al and Bill Ulwelling, Velocitor, leaving from post 11 in the 14-horse field, crossed over quickly and took to the rail with Justin Stein in the irons.
The dark bay held a half-length advantage over Battle Strike through an opening quarter reached in :24.88, with Stayhonor Goodside positioned in third followed by Gran Spirited.
Velocitor was a head in front of that same rival through a half in :50.56, as mutuel choice Philip My Dear, another Attard trainee, moved into third spot on the outside along the backstretch.
Running comfortably on the front end by a half-length through three-quarters, Velocitor soon had rivals on both sides attempting to reel him in, but the colt battled on gamely down the lane to hold on for a neck win over a hard-charging Twin City. Philp My Dear was third. J’adoro was fourth.
The final time over the Tapeta was 1.52.00.
“I was looking at his form previous to the race and I know that he had natural speed sprinting,” said Stein. “First time going two turns, I figured his best bet would be to try and get him to relax on the lead. He was very relaxed and travelling comfortably within himself. He looks to me like a router. He has that kind of physique.”
Assistant trainer Denton Ebanks was busy saddling five starters in the race from the Attard barn but was pleased to have a one-three finish.
“We knew he was going to run a good race,” offered Ebanks. “He’s just always happy.”
Now 3-1-1 from five starts, Velocitor arrived at the Coronation Futurity off a half-length triumph over 6 panels on the Tapeta on September 22.
The last horse to complete the Coronation Futurity-Queen’s Plate double was Norcliffe, who won this race in 1975.
Velocitor paid $44.90 for the win.
In other Sunday stakes action at Woodbine, Who’s the Star, a 4-year-old son of Tonalist-Shine Forth, lived up to his name once again in winning the Grade 2 $177,050 Autumn Stakes.
Trained by Mark Casse for owner M Racing Group, LLC, came into the 1 1/16-mile main track race for 3-year-olds and up having notched two stakes scores in his past three races.
And while it didn’t appear he would be able to pull the rabbit out of his hat this time, a little late race magic and a strong ride from Emma-Jayne Wilson added another stakes title to the bay’s stat sheet.
Mighty Heart, Canada’s two-time Horse of the Year (in both 2020 and 2021) was guided to the front into the first turn, followed by Treason, Harlan Estate and Money Printer, while Who’s the Star sat last in the field of 10.
After taking his rivals through an opening quarter in :23.59, Mighty Heart was quickly engaged by Treason, who then struck front en route to a half reached in :46.78.
Treason and Mighty Heart continued their tete-a-tete into the turn for home with the former gaining the upper hand as the field straightened for home.
Midway down the lane, War Bomber (IRE) came calling and wore down the leader, but was confronted soon after by Who’s the Star, seventh at the stretch call and rolling.
At the wire, Who’s the Star got up to record a half-length triumph in a time of 1:41.10 on the Tapeta. War Bomber (IRE) was second, Novo Sol (BRZ) was third and Treason fourth.
“Inside speed was playing, it’s been playing good on the inside all week,” said Wilson, who was joined by her daughters, Avery and Grace, in the winner’s circle. “But speed started to carry a lot more and I was a little bit concerned. But on paper, there was a lot of conflicting speed as well. When they cut the half in :46 and change, my guy’s going to come running every time. He comes home fast, and he came home fast today.
“He’s huge. He’s not a small horse, so he takes a little bit to get his legs underneath him. Some horses, they can quicken really fast within two jumps, some horses quicken a little longer. He takes a little longer to get going, but when he does, that kick is vicious.”
It was the sixth lifetime win, accompanied by a second and two thirds from 16 starts for the gelding bred in Kentucky by Oscar and John Penn.
Who’s the Star, sent off as the 3-1 choice, paid $8.50 for the win.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms