Gary Barber and John C. Oxley’s three-year-old filly Win the War returned to action off a seven-month layoff to win the $100,000 Duchess Stakes, the first of three stakes carded on Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack.
With Patrick Husbands aboard, Win the War raced outside of Souper Striking on the lead throughout the seven-furlong main track event, setting fractions of :23.46 and :46.72 before drawing clear down the stretch for the 1-1/4 length victory in 1:23.17.
Trainer Mark Casse swept the top two spots in the shortened four-horse field as Stonestreet Stables’ Hanalei Moon rallied from behind her stablemate off the turn and out-finished Souper Striking. Love to Learn was fourth.
“She left there pretty sharp and I tried not to disappoint her. I tried to run her like the best horse in the race and she showed you she was the best,” said Husbands. “She got a little tired the last couple of strides, but she got the job done.
“She left here as a good horse and she came back as a good horse,” he added.
Bred in Kentucky by Tada Nobutaka, the War Front-City Sister filly, who is a half-sister to Grade 2 stakes winner Dixie City, was a $700,000 yearling acquisition from the 2016 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Sale. She kicked off her career with a pair of two-year-old victories at Woodbine, including an eye-catching 11-1/4 length score in last year’s Glorious Song Stakes, before finishing third in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes in early January at Santa Anita where she sustained an ankle injury that required surgery.
“It is a big test coming back. I’d say it’s been quite a bit of time away, but she ran great,” said assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan. “You want to see them come back to the form before, which they don’t always do, so we’re very happy right now.
“Everything went very well with her on her recovery. Mark has a great farm down in Florida – he can swim them, there’s a spa, everything we need down there. He’s there every day watching them come back from an injury. They start on the track down there and then when they’re ready to run, they come up here, so everything went really well with her and we do have a good program in place for these types of situations.”
Win the War was the 1-2 favourite in the field with two scratches (Miss Savvy and Glamanation). She returned $3 to win and combined with Hanalei Moon for an exacta worth $13.30.