Bear Paw trailed the field most of the way before running on late between rivals to prevail in the $100,000 Classy ‘n Smart Stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
Favourite Niigon’s Legacy ran away with the lead early on in the 1-1/16 mile main track event and clocked opening fractions of :24.01, :47.87 and 1:12.71 before the field converged on the front-runner and bunched up racing in the final turn.
Bear Paw, who had trailed throughout in rein to Luis Contreras, ran on between horses down the stretch to prevail in 1:43.77 in a photo finish ahead of longshot Stormy Summer, who had stalked the pace. Trini Brewnette snagged third-place honours a half-length behind as she edged out Sparkles’ Girl, the defending champion who finished between the top pair.
“I liked the way they raced all the way. It was just a perfect trip,” said Contreras, who currently ranks third for wins among all jockeys at the Woodbine meet. “I know this filly likes to be covered between horses and that’s the best way she runs.
“The thing is, if I hit the lead really soon before the sixteenth pole, she just kind of starts looking around. I just waited for a big move at the end.”
Bear Paw now sports a record reading 2-3-1 from seven starts during her debut season for trainer Ashlee Brnjas. Bred by Colebrook Farms and owned in partnership with Bear Stables Ltd., the three-year-old Bear’s Kid filly entered the Classy ‘n Smart Stakes off a runner-up performance at odds of 20-1 over the same course and distance in her initial stakes start, which was the OLG Algoma won by Trini Brewnette on August 29.
The winning connections celebrated their second September stakes victory after watching the Pattison Canadian International eligible Johhny Bear defend his title in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes mid-month.
Sent off at odds of 5-1, Bear Paw paid $12, $6.40 and $3.80. She combined with Stormy Summer ($13.40, $6.20) to produce a $2 exacta payout of $139.10. With Trini Brewnette ($3.40) and Sparkles’ Girl finishing third and fourth, the trifecta paid $261.15 and the superfecta returned $1,552.90 for $1 tickets.
Crumlin Queen and Niigon’s Bay followed next across the wire with Niigon’s Legacy fading to finish last.
Live Thoroughbred racing resumes at Woodbine on Wednesday evening, with first race post time set for 6:45 p.m.