Chiefswood Stable’s homebred Neepawa stole the show with a front-striding performance in the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third and final leg of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, on Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack.
With Neepawa winning the OLG Canadian Triple Crown’s 1-1/2 mile turf event, trainer Mark Casse completed a sweep of all three legs as he also campaigns the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales champion filly Wonder Gadot, who skipped the third leg to face the boys in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes on August 25 at Saratoga.
With Jerome Lermyte aboard, Neepawa left from post seven to front the field of nine for most of the 1-1/2 miles. Eskiminzin stalked in second-place but Neepawa held clear and widened his leading margin to as much as five lengths down the stretch. Say the Word launched his attack on the final turn but finished second-best, 3-1/2 lengths behind the winner, with Flight Deck an all-out third.
Neepawa set fractions of :24.49, :49.98, 1:14.66, 1:39.91 and 2:04.26 en route to victory in a final time of 2:31.18 over the yielding turf.
“The plan was to keep him comfortable,” said Lermyte. “He went to the lead. He actually jumped somewhere around there, he jumped whatever he saw on the floor, but then he relaxed quite a bit even though he was going a little bit faster than what I was planning on going. The main thing is I wanted him to be comfortable so I he could produce the best effort at the end.”
“I was a little worried when I saw him on the lead so early, but the pace was slow and the track was heavy and he can run all day so it was good,” said owner Robert Krembil of Chiefswood Stable.
Neepawa, who finished 10th in the Queen’s Plate, entered the Breeders’ Stakes off a third-place finish in the Toronto Cup going 1-1/8 miles on July 28 over ‘good’ turf. The Scat Daddy-Niigon’s Touch colt, who was last year’s Coronation Futurity runner-up, showed potential racing over the turf at Gulfstream Park during the winter when he broke his maiden.
Neepawa now sports a career record reading 2-1-3 in 11 starts with more than $340,000 in purse earnings.
Aheadbyacentury, the race favourite after runner-up finishes in the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales for trainer John Ross, lacked kick today and finished eighth.
“He broke good and I was having a perfect trip right on the rail saving all the ground I could, but for some reason he never really opened up, he never tried to kick or anything,” said Aheadbyacentury’s jockey Luis Contreras. “It was weird today.
“From the last five-eighths of the mile, I was trying to go and he didn’t want to go. That’s when I figured we were in trouble. I just tried to keep as close as I could, but I didn’t want to override him. This horse could have a long future.”
Sent postward as the 5-2 second choice, Neepawa paid $6.80, $3.60 and $3.10. He combined with Say the Word ($4.50, $3.40) for a 7-6 exacta worth $23.80. A $1 trifecta of 7-6-8 (Flight Deck, $7.90) paid $178.80 and a $1 superfecta of 7-6-8-2 (Eskiminzin) returned $915.45.
Hot Cash, the lone filly in the field, finished fifth with Real Dude, Ginger Sky, Aheadbyacentury and Absolution completing the order of finish.
Live Thoroughbred racing continues at Woodbine on Sunday afternoon, featuring the $175,000 Sky Classic Stakes (Grade 2). First race post time is 1 p.m.