Fifty Proof, Canada’s champion older male of 2011, returned from a lengthy layoff to take Sunday’s $126,600 Sir Barton Stakes, at Woodbine.
Fifty Proof, trained by Ian Black and ridden by Justin Stein, had not competed since a second-place effort in the Grade 2 Nijinksy Stakes on July 24, 2011.
Black patiently conditioned the six-year-old Whiskey Wisdom gelding, owned by Kinghaven Farms, John Fielding and Ben Hutzel, for this return, before supplementing him to the 1 1/16-mile ‘Poly’ route at a cost of $3,000.
Fifty Proof led the 12-horse field through splits of :24.39, :48.38 and 1:12.36 with Moonlit Beauty, taking on boys for the first time, stalking from second position.
Head Honcho and Bobcaygeon rallied from off-the-pace through the turn, but a resolute Fifty Proof kicked to a 3 ½-length advantage at the top of the lane, cruising to a 1 ¼-length score in 1:43.46. Head Honcho finished gamely for place money over Bobcaygeon.
Black was pleased with the return effort of the sizable chestnut.
“He was just good enough that he didn’t have to be (at his best), but they ran really fast too,” said Black. “He’s a very good horse, that’s the bottom line.”
Fifty Proof, who captured the Grade 3 Eclipse over the Polytrack to secure Sovereign honours last year, is expected to head south for the winter months to continue his 2012 campaign.
“He’ll go to Florida soon and we’ll look at some turf races,” said Black. “He’s trained on the dirt, but he’s never run on it. He’s a very good ‘Poly’ horse, but he loves the turf.”
Fifty Proof banked $75,000 victory, improving his record to seven wins and five seconds from 15 career starts.
He paid $5.50, $3.90 and $3.30, combining with Head Honcho ($8.50, $5) for a $59.0 (3-8) exactor. A 3-8-2 (Bobcaygeon, $4.10 to show) triactor was worth $266.70 while a $1 superfecta [3-8-2-11 (Mey’s Rocket] came back $2823.60.