Back at Woodbine under the tutelage of trainer Barbara Minshall, Armistice Day lived up to expectations in Saturday’s co-featured $100,000 Toronto Cup for three-year-olds.
“I’m not going to lie, I felt he was the best horse in the race,” said the confident conditioner after watching the chestnut gelding earn his first stakes victory in rein to Luis Contreras.
Inventing Blame had carved out fractions of :24.84, :48.63 and 1:11.64 over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course with Armistice Day following loosely in the two-hole. He then reeled in the leader on the turn and kicked clear in the stretch to score in 1:46.96 for the distance of about 1-1/8 miles.
Longshot Mo Speed rallied from the back of the pack to edge out Inclusive by a head in the race for place. Encierro, the 6-5 favourite, finished fourth, with Inventing Blame fading to fifth and Noble Hope completing the order of finish.
“It was so sweet [to be back aboard this horse]. I got a dream trip,” said Contreras. “I was just sitting second. There was not much speed on the lead, so I just let the horse run his race and he just needed a good pilot.
“I was just waiting for the quarter-pole to ask him to go and once I was in the stretch, he just gave everything he could.”
Bred in Kentucky by Glenvale Stud, the son of Declaration of War out of the multiple graded stakes champion Harmony Lodge showed talent at two when he won at first asking last July and was runner-up next time out in the Victoria Stakes for Minshall. After starting his sophomore campaign stateside, Armistice Day returned to Woodbine for the stakes victory, which marked his second career win from six starts.
“It’s just a roller coaster,” said Minshall, who trains the winner at Woodbine for Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins. “I’m very thankful Mr. Lunsford and Mr. Robbins decided to send the horse back here. I always thought he was a turf horse and I think he proved it today.”
Armistice Day returned $10.40 to win as the 4-1 second wagering choice.
Live Thoroughbred racing continues at Woodbine on Sunday afternoon with an 11-race card featuring the Grade 2 Royal North Stakes. Post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m.