Red Cabernet defeated defending Victoriana Stakes champion Niigon’s Eclipse to give her connections lots to celebrate on Saturday after this year’s $100,000 edition, which was rescheduled after Monday’s cancellation at Woodbine.
Trained by Ian Black for the new Piano Bar Racing ownership group, Red Cabernet put jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson back in the stakes spotlight for the first time this year.
“This spring didn’t really go according to plan,” said Wilson, who sustained an arm injury during morning training just before the Woodbine meet opened and returned to action only two weeks ago. “A broken arm, three months off, longer than I expected, so this stakes victory is extra sweet.”
Red Cabernet settled off the pace in the 1-1/16-mile turf stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares three and up while Niigon’s Eclipse took command from Silent Sonet past the first quarter mark in :24.28. The even-money favourite reached the half in :47.41 and continued to lead past three-quarters in 1:11.07 while Sugar Jones moved into contention. However, Wilson sent Red Cabernet widest of all from the backfield down the stretch and she ran up a 3-1/2 length winning margin before hitting the wire in 1:41.34.
“She’s the type of filly that runs her best race from off the pace,” said Wilson, the 2018 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award recipient. “On paper, it looked like they were going be a little aggressive. But this quality of fillies, you can do anything you want with them so when they started getting a little quicker up front and I was happy and comfortable travelling in a nice rhythm in behind, I thought if she kicks away the way she kicked last time for Omar [Moreno] within range, I thought she’d blow right by them and she did.”
Bred in Ontario by Paul Buttigieg, Red Cabernet is a four-year-old chestnut filly by Signature Red out of Gold Leaf Rose. She earned her fourth career win from 15 starts and first stakes victory for a group of six new owners led by Jim Menzies.
An avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan, Menzies admitted a stakes victory at Woodbine trumps a Stanley Cup win in his books.
“A stakes victory is a much bigger deal. As big of a Leafs fan as I am, it doesn’t get much better than this, I must say,” he said, adding that Piano Bar Racing, named after a popular vacation spot for the group, will be celebrating the big win with a couple bottles of wine tonight.
Red Cabernet was sent off as the 6-1 third wagering choice and paid $15.10, $4.70 and $2.90. She combined with Niigon’s Eclipse ($2.80, $2.30) for a 5-2 exacta worth $48.80. Sugar Jones ($4) finished third to complete the 5-2-3 trifecta, which paid $109.65 for a $1 ticket. Crumlin Queen rounded out a $1 superfecta of 5-2-3-1 that returned $276.80.
Adopted Family and Silent Sonet completed the field. Miss Sea was scratched.
Live Thoroughbred racing continues at Woodbine on Sunday afternoon (August 12), featuring the $225,000 Wonder Where Stakes and the $125,000 Seagram Cup (Grade 3). First race post time is 1 p.m.