Involuntary and jockey Gary Boulanger prevailed in a photo finish over Happyness to win the $100,000 Flaming Page Stakes for fillies and mares three years old and up on Friday at Woodbine Racetrack.
Involuntary and Happyness (Alan Garcia) tracked leader Belle de Nuit (Patrick Husbands), who galloped out to a commanding lead early in the 1-1/2 mile turf event. As the pacesetter began to tire and back through the field heading to the final turn, Involuntary took command with Happyness looming to her outside and ready for a stretch duel. Those two fillies duked it out in front of the grandstand with Involuntary ultimately holding off Happyness for the game victory in 2:29.38. Moonlight Sky (Rafael Hernandez) finished third.
“She just glided by [Belle de Nuit] on her own,” said Boulanger after the race. “When I called on her at the head of the lane when Alan came to her, she just cut a couple of gears and we were running down the lane pretty hard today.”
Bred in Kentucky by Dr. Catherine Wills and owned by Stronach Stables, the headstrong chestnut filly by City Zip out of Invariable earned the first win of her four-year-old campaign following top three finishes in the Dance Smartly and Nassau (Gr. 2) Stakes under the care of trainer Josie Carroll.
“She’s been a very, very game filly this whole season and showing a lot of character in developing,” said Boulanger. “We’re trying to teach her to relax and Josie’s team has done a great job with her, and her and I kind of get along and she’s pretty easy to handle now. She got a little hot today, but when you call on her, she gives you everything she has.”
“I’m delighted and thankful that the Stronach Group sent this filly to me, and between Gary and her exercise rider Billy O’Connor, they’ve done a tremendous job with this filly,” acknowledged Carroll. “She goes out late every morning when there’s nothing for her to chase because if there’s something for her to chase, she’s going to catch it. So they’ve really, really worked with getting this filly to relax, come off the bridle, and I think it was their accomplishment to get her to go a mile and a half.”
Involuntary earned her fourth career win in 10 starts and boosted her bankroll over the $200,000 mark.
Sent postward as the 4-5 favourite, Involuntary paid $3.80, $2.50, and $2.10 across the board. She combined with Happyness ($4.20, $2.60) for a 7-4 exactor worth $16.70. A 7-4-5 triactor (Moonlight Sky, $3.10 to show) paid $39.35 and a $1 superfecta of 7-4-5-2 (Giovanna Blues) returned $125.85.