Tiz a Slam seems to have a soft spot for Canada Day weekend.
The 4-year-old colt, trained by Roger Attfield, was the runner-up behind Holy Helena in last year’s Queen’s Plate on July 2 and was returning to the 1 ¼ distance for the first time with a 1 ¼ length tally in Sunday’s Grade 3 Dominion Day.
In winning the Dominion Day over six older rivals, Tiz a Slam garnered $90,000 from a $141,500 purse.
Cleverly ridden by jockey Steven Bahen, Tiz a Slam broke from the outside and assumed an unfamiliar position on the front end.
“I know we were going pretty slow and he was tugging me the whole way,” said Bahen, who walked the dog with Tiz a Slam through fractions of :25.51, :50.84 and 1:15.37. “He got some good fractions and that’s why he finished up so strong. Roger had him ready today and it was fantastic.”
Dragon Bay forced the modest pace through the first six furlongs but Melmich had gone on the attack early, rallying from last place at the half and sitting third on the outside.
Melmich continued to force the issue as the mile went by in 1:38.81 and had closed to within a half-length at the furlong pole only to be repelled by a very stubborn Tiz a Slam in a 2:03.11 final clocking.
A slight favorite at 3-2, the 7-year-old Melmich was seeking his third consecutive Dominion Day victory for trainer Kevin Attard.
Are You Kidding Me, Canada’s champion older male in 2015 and 2016, finished another two lengths back in third place after failing to make any late headway. The 8-year-old, who had finished third in last year’s Dominion Day was the 9-5 second choice.
Gigantic Storm, last year’s Dominion Day runner-up, never seriously threatened but missed show money by a neck. Black Sea, 2016 Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges and Dragon Bay completed the order of finish.
Attfield was not overly surprised by Tiz a Slam’s success.
“This horse, he actually trained super into this race,” said Attfield. “He’s a big, long-striding horse and he likes just to gallop. The last few races, we’ve been wide in some of those races because you can’t check him. He’s got to keep striding. He trained like he could win the race if he got his trip and he dug in well down the lane, which I was clearly pleased to see. He’s a nice horse.”
A Chiefswood Farm homebred, Tiz a Slam had won the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles of turf as a 2-year-old and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Tapeta last fall.
Tiz a Slam returned $25, $8.40 and $4.40 with Melmich (3.20, $2.50) completing a 7-2 exacta worth $83.10. Are You Kidding Me ($2.50) rounded out a 7-2-5 $224.80 trifecta with Gigantic Breeze (3) in the bottom rung of the superfecta which paid $267.40 for $1.