Bear Stables’ Academic, with Justin Stein, pulled off a shocker in the featured $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, wiring her nine rivals and winning comfortably by one and three-quarter lengths in the mile and one-eighth classic for Canadian-foaled three-year-old fillies , Sunday at Woodbine
Sent postward a 66-1 outsider, the longest shot on the board, Academic, who had just recently broke her maiden in her season debut on May 15, after going winless in three starts as a two-year-old, was supplemented to the Oaks at a cost of $12,500, meaning her connections got a quick return of $300,000, the purse to the winner.
Not only that, the daughter of Henny Hughes-Awesome Lass set a track record in the process. Her final time of 1:48.86 eclipsed the mark of 1:48.97 set by River Rush in the 2012 Plate Trial. And, it was almost a full second faster than the Plate Trial winner Danish Dynaformer, the race before the Oaks, when he was clocked in 1:49.81.
Academic was never challenged throughout the race, clicking off fractions of :23.63, :48.01 and 1:12.33, before turning for home, when, after having a four and one-half length lead in mid-stretch reached in 1:36.27, she more than held her own to the wire.
Favoured London Tower, after a tardy beginning, closed for second, out nodding Season Ticket, with Shez a Masterpiece a length and a half back in fourth.
For trainer Reade Baker, it was his second Oaks win. However, when he won the prestigious race the first time in 2005, it was with an even money favourite, Gold Strike.
“I didn’t even have to ride her to the wire,” said Stein, who was celebrating his first Oaks win. He also won The Queen’s Plate in 2012 aboard Strait of Dover. ”The last few jumps I looked over and we had it wrapped up. Inside the 70-yard pole, I looked up and there was no one coming. I couldn’t believe it.
“I knew we were going at a good clip, but she was real comfortable. She was relaxed but I had a lot of horse. At the three-eighths pole, when they came to her a little bit I just let her out a notch and they had to run hard to get to her there. At that point, when I opened her up again, she was going easy and had so many gears left.”
Jockey Alan Garcia, aboard the 4-5 choice London Tower, explained the slow departure from the gate.
“She was sitting down a little bit and she did it again like the first time (in the seven furlong Fury Stakes, May 3, which she won). It was an unlucky break. The winner was loose on the lead and took it away.”
Academic lit up the toteboard, paying $135.30, $30.40 and $10.80, combining with London Tower ($3.20, $2.40) for a $431.10 (9-6) exactor. A 9-6-3 (Season Ticket, $3.60) triactor was worth $2,175.30 while a $1 Superfecta [9-6-3-10 (Shez a Masterpiece)] came back $10,431.80.
Six fillies have won both the Oaks and the Queen’s Plate since 1956, the latest being Lexie Lou last year, when named Canada’s Horse of the Year.