Live Oak Plantation’s Florida Won rallied outside rivals to capture Sunday’s $162,100 Grade 3 Seagram Cup, at Woodbine.
Trained by Mark Casse, the four-year-old Birdstone chestnut arrived at the 1 1/16-mile ‘Poly’ stake from a strong second-place effort to Red Rifle in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes, held July 1 at Woodbine, in which Seagram Cup rival Pender Harbour finished third after a troubled trip.
Red Rifle flattered the form of the Dominion Day by capturing the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga.
Asserting Bear led the Seagram Cup field to the first turn marking the first quarter in :24.75 under pressure from Midnight Aria. Florida Won, under Patrick Husbands, found a spot outside of Pender Harbour down the backstretch as the pacesetter made the half-mile in :48.98.
His Race to Win, the defending Seagram Cup champ, advanced up the rail through the final turn as Husbands urged Florida Won into gear outside rivals, with Pender Harbour making an inside move under Luis Contreras.
Asserting Bear maintained a length advantage at the top of the lane as Florida Won swooped outside and Pender Harbour, in need of racing room, surged between His Race to Win and Midnight Aria and then dived to the rail. However, the champion chestnut could not reel in Florida Won who prevailed by a diminishing 1/2-length. Asserting Bear stayed on strong for show money. Florida Won covered 1 1/16-miles in 1:44.33.
Husbands was full of praise for Pender Harbour following the dramatic finish.
“At the end of the day, you can’t take anything away from Pender Harbour. Last time (in the Dominion Day), Pender Harbour carried 126 pounds and we just beat him,” said Husbands. “He’s always a class horse and the one to beat coming home.”
The victory marked the second graded stakes score for Florida Won adding to a resume that includes last year’s Grade 3 Ontario Derby. Husbands believes finding a good spot coming out of the first turn was a key factor in the end result.
“Ninety percent is the horse, but in a situation like today, Pender Harbour is the boss,” said Husbands. “Going into the first turn, I got to the outside (of Pender Harbour) and that’s where I stole the race.”
Florida Won, bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd., banked $90,000 in victory while improving his record to 3-2-2 from 10 starts.
He paid $5.30, $3 and $2.70, combining with Pender Harbour ($4.20, $2.80) for an $18.40 (9-8) exactor. A 9-8-1 triactor (Asserting Bear, $5.30 to show) was worth $116.50, while a $1 Superfecta [9-8-1-6 (His Race to Win)] came back $215.90. Conquest Top Gun, Tuscan Getaway and Red Rifle were scratched.