G. G. Racing Stable’s two-year-old filly Preferred Guest scored a breakthrough win in the $100,000 South Ocean Stakes featured on Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
With Jerome Lermyte aboard for trainer Mark Casse, Preferred Guest prevailed as the slight second choice in the Ontario Sire Stakes event after starting her career with a pair of previous stakes placings.
Lermyte worked out a ground-saving trip among the field of five for Preferred Guest, who rallied outside at the top of the stretch and ran on late to prevail by three-quarters of a length. She defeated the favoured Notice Me, who overtook pacesetter and eventual third-place finisher Miss Ariel after fractions of :26.10, :50.63 and 1:14.41.
With blinkers added and stretching out to 1-1/16 miles for the first time in four lifetime starts, the forwardly-placed Preferred Guest prevailed in 1:46.10.
“That was the instructions of the trainer and obviously we had the chance to work her with the blinkers and she was responding very well with it so today we came in confident,” said Lermyte. “The trainer asked me to ride a little bit closer and it paid off.
“I was feeling very well at the back of those horses and, like she does all the time, she needed a little bit of time to respond when you ask her, but coming off the turn this time, I knew that I had the resources to win this race.”
Bred by Billee Steinhoff, Tom Rupert and John Felker, the Society’s Chairman-For Gillian filly was purchased for $52,000 from last year’s Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling sale. She kicked off her career on August 29 as the OLG Muskoka Stakes runner-up and hit the board in the Victorian Queen before rallying gamely to a fourth-place finish last time out in a maiden event. Following today’s victory, her career earnings sit just shy of the $100,000 mark.
Preferred Guest paid $5.70, $2.80 and $2.50, combining with Notice Me ($2.50, $2.60) for a $12.70 exacta. Miss Ariel ($3.20) completed the trifecta, which returned $28.90 for a $1 ticket, while a $1 superfecta paid $65.25 with Falcon’s View finishing fourth. Crumlin Time completed the order of finish.
With his third stakes win in a row at Woodbine after sweeping last weekend’s added-money events, Casse now boasts 20 stakes titles this meet to lead all trainers in that category. The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame horseman has won 98 races overall in 2018 at the Toronto oval, placing second in the standings.
Trainer Norm McKnight sent out four winners on Saturday’s 11-race program to improve his overall meet-leading total to 112. He is closing in on Casse’s Woodbine meet record of 119 wins, set in 2011.
Live racing resumes on Sunday afternoon, featuring the 115th running of the $225,000 Coronation Futurity. First race post time is set for 1 p.m.