Tiz a Slam and jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva powered to the lead turning for home and drew off to win the $125,000 Ontario Derby (Grade 3) for three-year-olds on Sunday’s Pattison Canadian International undercard.
Filly Holy Helena was the talk of the toteboard in her return to Woodbine following victories in the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate Triple Crown legs this summer, but it was Tiz a Slam’s time to shine in the Derby with jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva aboard trainer Roger Attfield.
“I have been working a long time with this horse and I have a lot of faith in this horse,” said Woodbine’s meet-leading jockey after the victory. “I don’t think he handles the heat very well. In the last couple of months, Roger told me, ‘Eurico, this horse is going to turn around’ and I believe this man when he says that. He brought this horse today here and it was an unbelievable feeling. I went to the gate and in my heart I knew he was going to run his best race today.”
Gorgeous Kitten raced on the lead setting fractions of :25.13, :49.20 and 1:13.15 through three-quarters with supplemental entry Undulated looming to his outside and Tiz a Slam tracking behind that rival. Da Silva sent Tiz a Slam three-wide past the third quarter mark to take the lead by the top of the stretch and powered home for the 3-1/4 length victory in 1:51.57 over 1-1/8 miles on the Tapeta track.
“It was not that easy because when he broke there, he was very, very sharp and it took a long time for me to relax him,” said Da Silva, who earned his third Ontario Derby win. “Finally I got him relaxed, but at the quarter pole, I wanted to wait a little more because it’s very, very hard to run against the wind, but he took off and I said, ‘You know, boy, you are the boss and let’s do it!’”
Holy Helena, the 4-5 favourite, closed from the backfield but had to settle for the runner-up honours, edging out Guy Caballero in a photo for place.
“She was good, but on the first turn the seven [Colonel Samsen] gave me a bit of trouble,” said Holy Helena’s jockey, Luis Contreras. “If that doesn’t happen, I would have been a little closer to the winner, but that’s racing.
“[The wind is] a little steadying coming from off the pace. At the end, you can feel it riding against the wind. If nothing had happened on the first turn, we’d have been right up there with Eurico and maybe it would be a different story.”
Attfield, who won his first Ontario Derby in 1976, earned his fifth title courtesy of Tiz a Slam. It was a satisfying win for the Canadian Hall of Fame trainer, who campaigns the homebred Tiznow-Flaming Rose colt for Chiefswood Stable. Tiz a Slam picked up his first win since the last October’s Cup & Saucer Stakes.
“It is actually [a very satisfying win] because I really thought that I could probably win the Plate and we got beat and then we went to the Prince of Wales and he really doesn’t like the dirt and that turned into a bit of a disaster for us,” said Attfield. “I sort of knew that might happen going in there so I was kind of cross with myself about it.
“He’s just been training so well. There was no way this horse shouldn’t be able to win a race like this and so it was so nice to see. Actually, when he was coming up to the three-eighths pole, I was shouting out to Eurico, ‘Just let him run, please let him run!’ because he’s a big horse and if he ever has to check, it takes him a while to get his feet under him again. He’s a lovely horse to train and I’m so pleased for the Chiefswood team. They breed a lovely horse and they’re such nice people to train for, and I’m please for everybody.”
Sent postward as the 9-1 fourth choice, Tiz a Slam paid $20, $6 and $4.20. He combined with Holy Helena ($3.30, $2.80) for a 6-8 exacta worth $49.10. A $1 trifecta of 6-8-3 (Guy Caballero, $9.80) paid $318.25 and a $1 superfecta of 6-8-3-4 (Senior Investment) returned $2,070.25.
Undulated, Gorgeous Kitten, Grizzel, Colonel Samsen and Cool Catomine completed the order of finish.