Eugene Melnyk’s Lukes Alley rallied from last to capture Sunday’s $224,800 Grade 2 Autumn Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Josie Carroll and ridden by Luis Contreras, the four-year-old Flower Alley bay was shuffled to last of six in the final turn before angling off the rail to run down shipper War Correspondent and 2013 Queen’s Plate champ Midnight Aria with an impressive turn of foot.
Midnight Aria led the field through splits of :24.73 and :49.15 in the 1 1/16-miles ‘Poly’ tilt with Are You Kidding Me stalking his early pace. Lukes Alley travelled inside of War Correspondent in fifth position down the backstretch, but lacked racing room through the final turn as Midnight Aria hit the top of the stretch with a length lead.
War Correspondent took command down the lane, but there was no turning back the energetic run of Lukes Alley who notched a neck victory in a swift 1:43.18. War Correspondent earned place money, a length in front of a game and determined Midnight Aria.
“I wanted to stay close and not let my horse do too much at the end, but I was a little bit stuck in the last turn and had to wait to angle outside,” said Contreras. “I knew my horse was going to give everything he had.”
Contreras, who won five races on the card, tipped his cap to Lukes Alley and Carroll.
“All the horses were running (down the lane), but my horse had a little bit more than the rest,” said Contreras. “All the credit to the horse and Josie who brought the horse over really sharp to win this race.”
Carroll admitted to being a little concerned as the field approached the final turn.
“Our game plan was to sit close and come outside, but when he got shuffled it was real disconcerting. He’s just a good horse, and good horses find a way to overcome problems” said Carroll.
Bred in Ontario by his owner, Lukes Alley banked $144,000 in victory while improving his record to 6-1-0 from nine starts.
He returned $4.50, $2.50 and $2.10, pairing with War Correspondent ($3, $2.80) for a $10.50 (2-3) exactor. A 2-3-5 (Midnight Aria, $3.20 to show) triactor was worth $56.60.