River Maid wore down a game and determined She’s Explosive in the final jump to win a thrilling edition of Saturday’s co-featured $125,400 Ballade Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Robert Tiller for owner The Very Dry Stable, River Maid arrived at the six furlong Tapeta sprint on a three-race win streak. The four-year-old Where’s the Ring bay completed her three-year-old campaign with an optional claiming score going seven furlongs over the Woodbine main, and carried that form into 2016 winning a five furlong allowance sprint and a 6 1/2-furlong optional claiming event.
Sent to post at odds of 10-1 in the Ballade, River Maid, with Gary Boulanger up, settled into fifth position as Silent Treat and She’s Explosive battled through splits of :23.23 and :46.03. She’s Explosive, with Luis Contreras up, took command through the turn as River Maid and Scotty’s Model, under Alan Garcia, launched their bid. The rallying pair raced in tight quarters through the turn with She’s Explosive looking home and cooled out, but a resurgent River Maid found another gear to get up for a nose score. River Maid covered six furlongs in 1:11.46.
“She didn’t get away cleanly today, but I was always in good position. She gives you a good feeling and lets you know there’s horse there,” said Boulanger. “When Alan (Garcia, Scotty’s Model) came to my outside it kind of intimidated her a bit, but she’s just all heart and class. She gritted down and dug in and said I’m going to get this one.”
Tiller owns the most Ballade victories of any trainer with four. He previously took the event with Anywhere (2012) and Brass in Pocket (2003, 2004). The Hall of Fame conditioner was pleased with the game effort by River Maid.
“She’s a real sweetheart. We stopped her off a win last year which is very hard to do for any trainer. She just wasn’t right, had some muscle issues, so we gave her the rest of the year off,” said Tiller. “If I had a dozen like her the game would be easy. When that horse (Scotty’s Model) came to the outside of her, I thought we couldn’t win it but I knew she had heart and she dug in. Gary rode a great race.”
River Maid, bred in Ontario by Jay Cochlin, banked $75,000 in victory while improving her record to 6-2-1 from 10 starts.
She paid $22.70, $8.50 and $4.80, combining with She’s Explosive ($14.60, $6.30) for a $258.70 (7-8) exactor. A 7-8-10 triactor (Scotty’s Model, $4 to show) was worth $1116.30, while a $1 Superfecta [7-8-10-1 (Quidi Vidi)] came back $4991.90. Old Valyria, Letter Fly and Tahnee were scratched.