Back-to-back Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes winner Code Warrior headlines the local contingent amid a talented field of 10 distaffers set to contest the $175,000 Royal North Stakes (Grade 2) on Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course this Sunday afternoon.
The Royal North is one of two six-furlong sprint stakes co-featured on the 1 p.m. program at Woodbine, followed by the $125,000 Vigil Stakes (Grade 3).
Fresh off a front-end Hendrie Stakes score on June 10, Code Warrior will leave from a preferable post two with Luis Contreras back aboard for trainer Michael De Paulo and owner Zilli Racing Stables.
“We gave her a little break, she’s had plenty of time between races,” said De Paulo, noting everything has gone according to plan with the five-year-old Society’s Chairman-Lady Natalie mare, who picks up four pounds off her last race and will carry 122 this time out. “It looks like it’s a pretty tough race with a bunch of shippers in there.
“There’s plenty of speed in the race,” noted De Paulo, assessing the competition. “It looks like there will be plenty of gas up front. Hopefully, Luis will find the right trip and get us home.”
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred Lull comes to Woodbine after winning her season’s debut in the Grade 3 Honey Fox over one-mile of turf at Gulfstream Park on Florida Derby Day and following up that performance with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day. Christophe Clement trains the four-year-old War Front-Quiet Now filly, who is approaching $900,000 in career earnings and will carry a field-high weight of 125 pounds. She also won the Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes at Santa Anita last October.
Audley Farm Stable’s Smiling Causeway will make her Woodbine debut off a strong Turf Amazon Stakes victory on July 7 at Parx Racing for trainer Arnaud Delacour. The four-year-old Giant’s Causeway-Shandra Smiles filly is a half-sibling to Grade 1 stakes winners Smiling Tiger and She’s a Tiger, the 2013 Eclipse Award Champion Two-Year-Old Filly. She boasts five wins and three seconds from nine lifetime starts.
Woodbine’s meet-leading trainer Mark Casse will have a pair of local graded stakes winners in the mix. Conrad Farms’ Jennifer Lynnette will aim to defend her title in the Royal North while Live Oak Plantation homebred Victory to Victory returns to the scene of her Grade 1 Natalma Stakes score from 2016 after starting her current campaign at Churchill Downs.
Jennifer Lynnette has been a top five contender in all of her 16 career starts. The consistent five-year-old Elusive Quality-Lynnette mare was fifth in the Hendrie and enters the Royal North off a blocked fourth-place finish in the seven-furlong Zadracarta sprint at Woodbine on Canada Day.
Joey Gee Thoroughbreds’ Kasuga, the six-furlong turf track record holder, finished just a head short in last year’s Royal North and will return for a rematch on Sunday, this time racing from the Jim Ensom stable.
Corps de Ballet, Tulsa Queen, Way to Versailles and Will She complete the line-up.
Here is a look at the field in post position order for the $175,000 Royal North Stakes (Grade 2) on Sunday:
$175,000 Royal North Stakes (Grade 2)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1. Corps de Ballet – Alan Garcia – Roger Attfield
2. Code Warrior – Luis Contreras – Michael De Paulo
3. Victory to Victory – Gary Boulanger – Mark Casse
4. Smiling Causeway – Daniel Centeno – Arnaud Delacour
5. Tulsa Queen – Steven Bahen – Ryan Walsh
6. Way to Versailles – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Kevin Attard
7. Kasuga – Jesse Campbell – Jim Ensom
8. Lull – Rafael Hernandez – Christophe Clement
9. Will She – David Moran – Michael Keogh
10. Jennifer Lynnette – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse