Silent Poet, a three-year-old son of Silent Name, seeks his third straight trip to the winner’s circle when he takes on eight rivals, including Pink Lloyd, Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year, in Saturday’s $100,000 Overskate Stakes, at Woodbine.
Bred and owned by Stronach Stables, Silent Poet heads into the seven-furlong main track feature off two impressive scores, including in his most recent effort, the Vice Regent Stakes, contested on September 16 at Woodbine.
Under Gary Boulanger, the dark bay stalked the early pace in the one-mile turf event, challenged the leader at the top of the stretch and then held sway to win by a length.
The win was the fourth for Silent Poet, who also boasts two seconds in seven starts for trainer Nick Gonzalez.
The colt’s only off-the-board finish to date came in this year’s running of the Queen’s Plate, when he finished 12th to Wonder Gadot. It was also the only time he wasn’t the mutuel favourite, sent off at 12-1 that day.
“He just didn’t have a good day,” said Gonzalez. “The mile and a quarter always was a question and I still think it would be. It seemed like he ran his best races after that around one turn, where it was seven-eighths or a mile on the turf.”
Silent Poet rebounded to finish second in his next engagement on July 28, before commencing his current two-race win streak.
“He won his first race when I brought him back up from Gulfstream to run at Woodbine on the synthetic, and he did it quite easily,” said Gonzalez of the horse’s three-year-old debut on April 22, a 5 1/2-length romp at five furlongs. “If you throw that Queen’s Plate start out, this is his first start back on the synthetic in a long time because he’s done a lot of turf. We’re happy with where we’re at.”
The lifetime earner of $131,969 will have his hands full with Pink Lloyd, the multiple stakes winning son of Old Forester who took last year’s Overskate for owner Entourage Stable and conditioner Robert Tiller.
This year, the six-year-old Pink Lloyd has five victories (all stakes events) and a third in seven races. The 16-time career winner boasts more than $1 million in Canadian earnings.
Gonzalez is hoping his young star can shine against older competition, much like a teenage hockey player getting his first shot against NHL competition.
“That’s a good one… I like that comparison,” he said with a laugh. “There are no more three-year-old stakes, so it was basically the only place left to run. Approaching November of your three-year-old year, you’re not at a big disadvantage running against older horses.
“He’s really quiet for a colt. He eats the feed tub off the wall and he’s a happy boy. He’s got his head out of the screen and just waits for somebody to walk by and give him a mint or a carrot. He’s just a cool horse. When I had him as a two-year-old, I’d always comment around the barn that he acted like he was three. He was ahead of himself that way.”
Inaugurated in 1997, the race is named in honour of Overskate, a Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee who holds the record for most Sovereign Awards with nine.
Jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva, who’ll be aboard Pink Lloyd, has won three of the past four editions, teaming with Paso Doble in 2014, Goodoldhockeygame in 2015 and Pink Lloyd in 2017. Krz Ruckus took back-to-back runnings for trainer Mike De Paulo and jockey Dino Luciani, in 2001 and 2002.
Saturday’s live Thoroughbred racing starts at 1 p.m. The Overskate is slated for race eight on the 10-race card.
FIELD FOR THE $100,000 OVERSKATE (RACE 8)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Not So Quiet – Rafael Hernandez – William Tharrenos
2 – Eskiminzin – Slade Callaghan – Carlos Grant
3 – Sweet Grass Creek – Davy Moran – Mike Keogh
4 – Boreal Spirit – Luis Contreras – Jennifer Shafer
5 – Kingsport – Patrick Husbands – Sid Attard
6 – Red Cabernet – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Ian Black
7 – Pink Lloyd – Eurico Rosa da Silva – Robert Tiller
8 – Silent Poet – Gary Boulanger – Nick Gonzalez
9 – Thor’s Rocket – Alan Garcia – Paul Buttigieg