Tulsa Queen, under Mario Pino, didn’t have a lot of room to work with in Saturday’s $101,200 Duchess Stakes, at Woodbine, but managed to squeeze through late to take all the spoils.
Trained by Ryan Walsh for his mother, owner-breeder Anne Walsh, Tulsa Queen made her first trip to the Toronto oval a winning one. The daughter of Cactus Ridge came into the added-money feature off an impressive victory at Presque Isle Downs on June 6.
Mutuel favourite Conquest Vivi took control of the Duchess from the get-go, while Pino settled Tulsa Queen at the back of the six-horse field.
Conquest Vivi, last year’s Nandi and Victorian Queen Stakes champion, led the pack through opening splits of :22.93 and :46.48, while a patient Pino bided his time with Tulsa Queen in sixth.
As the field rounded the turn for home, Conquest Vivi’s lead began to diminish as Just Be Kind loomed a major threat, while the late-running Tulsa Queen began to gather momentum.
Pino found a narrow seam mid-stretch and the Pennsylvania-bred, with Conquest Vivi to her inside and Just Be Kind to her outside, burst through to secure a half-length triumph over the latter. My Arch Enemy rallied for third.
The final time for seven furlongs was 1:23.51.
“She’s a nice filly,” said Pino. “When she got up in there, she got mad, she got faster as soon as she got in a tight spot. It was kind of the only spot I had to go and I knew I had a lot of horse. I liked her from the first time I rode her.”
The veteran rider was confident that Tulsa Queen would relish seven panels.
“I thought the seven would be perfect, even farther,” noted Pino. “She’s always had a good kick at the end and when she made the lead, her ears went right up and there was plenty left in there.”
Walsh was pleased with the gutsy performance and back-to-back solid showings from his consistent filly.
“The horse that finished second (in Tulsa Queen’s last race) came back to win an allowance race, so we knew she met a pretty quality field there,” said the winning trainer. “She did it so easy. I think the comment in the form said, ‘hand ride.’
“I was hoping for a fast pace,” continued Walsh. “It wasn’t as fast I’d like it, but it was enough where she’d have a chance to really show her kick. She even surprised me. She exploded through there.”
Tulsa Queen earned $60,000 for the win, while improving her record to 3-3-2 from nine starts.
She paid $15.30, $5.70 and $3.80, combining with Just Be Kind ($4.70, $3) for a $54.40 (6-1) exactor. A 6-1-7 triactor (My Arch Enemy, $2.40 to show) was worth $169.40, while a $1 Superfecta [6-1-7-2 (Conquest Vivi)] came back $183.25. Superduper Sky was scratched.