Secret Action, with David Moran aboard, scored a shocking upset in the featured $150,000 Carotene Stakes on the Thanksgiving Monday holiday at Woodbine.
For Ontario-bred three-year-old fillies at one and one-eighth miles on the grass, the Carotene drew seven hopefuls, headed by the once-beaten Moon Rainbow, who went postward the 3-5 choice and the undefeated Conquest Strate Up, the 3-1 second choice.
But it was left to 28-1 Secret Action, the longest shot on the board trained by Mike Doyle, who prevailed on the inside in a stiff four-horse drive to the wire, edging away from the favourite late to win by three-quarters of a length. The final time over the firm turf was 1:50.15.
Ice Festival, who battled between those two in deep stretch, was third, just a head behind Moon Rainbow, while Conquest Strate Up wound up fourth, another length and one-quarter in arrears on the outside.
Pengally Bay set the early pace, clicking off fractions of :24.59, :48.25 and 1:12.94. Meanwhile, Secret Action, never worse than third, swung off the rail to overtake the pacesetter as the field turned for home, was subsequently passed by Moon Rainbow and Ice Festival in mid-stretch, but miraculously re-rallied for the win.
“The key to this filly running any good is you’ve got to get her back,” said Moran. “Because she jumps out like a bear and puts her head up. But as soon as she gets cover, she lopes along the backside. It took us a couple of starts to figure that out. Each time she’s done it, she’s run a huge race. She was very, very game at the finish today.”
Added Doyle, who also owns a piece of her, along with RGH Bloodstock and Dan Gale, “It’s just something about her that I’ve liked. We bought her as a yearling for $32,000. She showed plenty (last year) but just didn’t quite get there (to the races). She seemed to go through a big growth spurt early this year in her first couple of starts.”
The daughter of Tiz Wonderful-Secret of Mecca didn’t make the races until May, when fourth on the Polytrack. It took her three more starts, all on turf, before she broke her maiden in a $47,500 claimer but followed that up with another good performance, a close fourth to Season Ticket in the grassy Wonder Where Stakes on August 9.
She’d come into Monday’s feature fresh off a win over race rival Ice Festival in a September 19 race originally carded for grass but moved to Polytrack, at the same distance as the Carotene.
Her first stakes victory was worth $90,000 to her owners, her third win in eight starts as she now boasts a bankroll of almost $190,000.
Secret Action lit up the toteboard, paying $59.60, $13.80 and $7.10, combining with Moon Rainbow ($2.60, $2.10) for a $183.70 (1-7) exactor. A 1-7-2 (Ice Festival, $3.50) triactor was worth $694.60 while a $1 Superfecta [1-7-2-6 (Conquest Strate Up)] came back $1,041.45.
Live thoroughbred racing resumes Wednesday night at Woodbine with an eight-race card. First post time is 6:45 p.m.