Keen Gizmo, bred and owned by Ivan Dalos (Tall Oaks Farms), made his third Steady Growth Stakes appearance his most memorable one, winning impressively in Holiday Monday’s $125,000 feature, at Woodbine.
The six-year-old multiple stakes placed gelding, bred in Ontario, finished second in the 1 1/16-mile main track stake in 2015 and seventh last year.
On Monday, he broke through with a flawless effort that yielded his first added-money score.
Eurico Rosa da Silva put defending champ Where’s the Widget in front from the get-go, as Nipigon kept pace to the outside, while Keen Gizmo, under Luis Contreras, tracked from third. The lead duo took the field through an opening quarter-mile in :24.53 and were still in front after a half-mile clocked in :48.43.
With his rivals turning up the pressure through the turn for home, Where’s the Widget began to fade, as Keen Gizmo struck front, going on to a 1 ¼-length victory in the 16th running of the Steady Growth, stopping the clock in a final time of 1:42.73.
It was fifth career win for the chestnut, who now has 16 top-three finishes from 24 starts, including eight runner-up performances.
Contreras was relieved to see the quirky son of Giant Gizmo put together a giant effort in the Steady Growth.
“This horse always tries,” said the veteran rider. “But he’s one of the most difficult horses to ride. I just wanted to stay close to the pace. He likes to switch his leads a lot, so he loses his momentum sometimes.”
Today, it wasn’t an issue.
“We’ve had a lot of confidence in this horse over the years,” said winning trainer Josie Carroll. “He’s his own worst enemy. He’s not a very focused horse and he’s always doing something silly where we miss races. Finally, he’s put it all together and done his job.”
Is he getting better with age?
“He was today,” quipped Carroll.
Dalos was equally enthused with the mistake-free showing.
“He definitely has a lot of idiosyncrasies,” offered Dalos. “You just have to keep your fingers crossed that you get a good ride and nothing goes wrong for him.”
Keen Gizmo returned $8.80, $4.70 and $3, pairing with Born in a Breeze ($9.40, $4.60) for a $64.80 (7-2) exactor. A 7-2-6 (Nipigon, $3.50 to show) triactor was worth $246.40. Niigon’s Glory completed a $1 Superfecta (7-2-6-3) worth $416.40.