A thrilling finish to the Grade 2 Connaught Cup on Saturday at Woodbine did not deserve to have a loser but TOWER OF TEXAS won by the skinniest of noses over pacesetting COMMUTE and champion CALGARY CAT.
After sizzling pace fractions including 6 furlongs in 1:07.70, the late pace was still fast and the final time for 7 furlongs on grass was 1:19.50 , just 2/100’s off the course record.
The Beyer Figure was 103, a career best for Tower of Texas.
Tower of Texas, owned by Scott Dilworth and Tom Van Meter was making the first start of the year in the $196,750 Connaught for trainer Roger Attfield and it was unsure if the 6-year-old would even race this year.
“He’s a lovely horse, he really is,” said the Hall of Fame conditioner. “He’s so competitive. He’s been hurt two years in a row, actually, and went back to the farm in Kentucky. This last year, I thought it was going to be the last time I was going to see him. Back he came in the spring, and said, ‘Come on, let’s get going.’ He trained really, really well coming into this race. He was ready to go today.”
Indeed, Tower of Texas, who has been a close 2nd in 5 of his last 8 races, finally sealed the deal.
Commute, under Patrick Husbands, led the way at top of the lane, as Eurico da Silva on the Tower desperately sought a clear path down the long stretch. Meanwhile, multiple graded stakes winner and Sovereign champion (2014 sprinter) Calgary Cat was gobbling up ground rapidly to the far outside, as the trio locked horns in the final strides.
At the wire, Tower of Texas nosed out Commute, who put a head in front of Calgary Cat for runner-up honours. The final time was 1:19.40.
Tower of Texas, winner of the 2015 Grade 2 King Edward Stakes, once again showed his affinity for the Toronto oval in notching his fifth career triumph, all coming at Woodbine, for owners Thomas Van Meter II and Scott Dillworth.
“It was very competitive,” said da Silva, of the strong field assembled for the Connaught. “You saw the finish. This horse has a big heart and he fought the entire stretch. All he wanted to do was catch the horse (Commute) in front. He’s giving everything he could to catch that horse. This horse came here to run.”
Tower of Texas, bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms and Rod Ferguson, banked $126,000 in victory while improving his record to 5-8-3 from 21 career starts.
He is by Street Sense from Rare Opportunity by Danzig Connection.
Woodbine had groups and lots of fans and the annual LADIES LUNCH, put on by Woodbine and the Woodbine Club. The largest crowd yet enjoyed increidble good, prizes, free manicure and shopping – Briar Perkins’ Straight from the Horse’s Mouth was on hand selling her horse-tooth jewelry and Barcelona shoes was also a big attraction. The ladies Lunch offers a portion of it’s money raised to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society.
Wagering on Saturday was stunning – $5.3 million on the day with no big races out of the country. Last year on the same Saturday the wagering was $4.1 million.
Other big runs on Saturday included CIRCLE OF FRIENDS, a 3-year-old by Midnight Lute who is Plate eligible but he has won 3 sprints this year. Owned y 3 Sons racing and trained by Robert Tiller, Circle of Friends, bred by Ericka Rusnak, ran a 90 Beyer Figure in his narrow win over Ted W in 1:16.98. The main track Tapeta was very slow on Saturday.
More wrap up to come Monday.
QUEEN’S PLATE UPDATE
Time to Travel, the impressive maiden winner from this winter when he was at Gulfstream Park, faded to 7th in last evening’s Penn Mile worth $500,000 and seemingly is off the Plate trail.
The son of Hard Spun tried three big stakes races after his maiden for new trainer Michael Matz and yesterday was his grass debut.
AVIE’S MESA, looking to be the first Plate winner for Ivan Dalos after 2 second-place finishes in the last 3 years, worked 5 furlongs on Saturday in 1:00.80 and is rounding into form as a serious Plate factor.
EPSOM DERBY – 40 to 1 WINGS OF EAGLES (Pour Moi out of a Kendor mare)
Of the Ballydoyle 6 starters, he was the only one NOT by Galileo
You must watch how much trouble this colt got into – from Tattenham Corner he was 3rd last, white cap in the purple and white stripes – blocked and stopped several times , came from miles behind…
WOODBINE OAKS – 7 days
GERTIE T (Midnight Lute) will likely joi the Woodbine Oaks field for trainer Norm McKnight. The late developing filly is 2 for 2 this year.
Stronach Stables’ HOLY HELENA has arrived at Woodbine for trainer Jimmy Jerkens (she was trained by Kevin Attard in 2016) and should be a well bet contender for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks next Sunday. The Plate Trial is also on that day and the Plate will gain 2 strong contender by the end of the day.
Watch Holy Helena’s latest race on May 12, her 2nd career start
Infexibility, also a maiden winner in just her 2nd race won on turf – here is her win:
Thoroughblog’s Top 10 Woodbine Oaks
1 – HOLY HELENA (by Ghostzapper)
2 – MYTHICAL MISSION (by
3 -ENSTONE (by Tiznow)
5 – ELLAN VANNIN
6 – STALLION HEIRESS
7 – FINANCIAL RECOVERY
8 – CINDERVELLA
9- GERTIE T
10 – GHSOTLY PRESENCE