Coming up Sunday morning, the PRIX DE L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE and a big card of racing at Longchamp. At Woodbine, it’s GREY DAY with the first all-grey horse race at the Toronto track, special food and drink and the Grade 3 Grey Stakes for 2-year-olds.
MELMICH ROLLS – 96 Beyer Figure in Durham Cup
MELMICH rolled to an easy 7 1/4 length win in the Grade Durham Cup at Woodbine on Saturday to remain unbeaten in 2017. The 6-year-old gelding was meeting just four rivals who were well overmatched and Stephen Chesney and Cory Hoffman’s fellow was certainly expected to win.
The Kevin Attard trainee circled the field of five and drew off down the stretch to win the 1-1/8 mile graded stakes with Eurico Rosa Da Silva along for the ride.
“He’s such a nice horse, I’m just very lucky and I’m very grateful to be a part of this team,” said Da Silva. “He’s a very, very nice horse, very easy horse to ride and he just gives you everything he has every time.”
The 3-5 favourite raced inside fifth early on while U S Marshal (Emma-Jayne Wilson) engaged early leader Leavem in Malibu (Gary Boulanger) with Narrow Escape (Rafael Hernandez) and Keen Gizmo (Patrick Husbands) joining the fray three and four-wide down the backside on the way to three-quarters in 1:12.99. Leavem in Malibu gave way then Melmich stormed by the top three that had continued to duel around the final turn en route to victory in 1:49.86.
“He was running very, very relaxed inside,” said Da Silva. “I was just seeing who was going to make the move and then I saw Patrick make a move outside and the pace picked up and I was just very lucky to sit behind him. At the half-mile pole, I was just galloping.”
“He was coming up to this race in great shape,” said Attard. “I was really excited to see him run today because I kind of figured he had this performance in him.”
The chestnut Wilko-Little Swoon gelding, who was bred in Ontario by Andrew Stronach, is now five-for-five in his six-year-old campaign and boasts wins in half of his 32 career starts with earnings over $861,000 for his owners. He will be looking to add more than just wins to his resume as his season continues at the Woodbine meet.
“To be honest, it’s like Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, ‘there’s no place like home,’” said Attard. “He seems to prosper here and things are going good for him. I think he has a serious chance at maybe Horse of the Year honours at this pace. That’s obviously a big target and I would like to see him get rewarded.”
Currently, Melmich’s main rival for the Horse of the Year honours is another undefeated gelding, PINK LLOYD, the sprint star who is also 5 for 5 in 2017.
More from Saturday/Friday – McKnight blows past his previous record
There is still a lot of racing left at Woodbine but what a show the Norm McKnight stable is putting on as it chases the Mark Casse barn.
McKnight and his team sent out 3 winners on Saturday, Casse won a pair and the score is 64 to 61 heading into Sunday’s racing.
The 61 wins by McKnight, who resides in Streetsville, ON, is the most he has ever won in one reason, bettering last year’s mark of 59.
McKnight has started half of the number of runners as the Casse barn and that will likely be problematic as the season heads towards the final day in mid December but it is fun watching the battle.
McKnight won with GIANT STORM, in race 1 for Racer’s Edge Inc., the 9-year-old BEAR ON FIRE, also for Racer’s Edge and Gary McMaster and THUNDER POINT, who ran the day’s 2nd highest Beyer Figureo f 86 in his win in race 9. Thunder Point is owned by McMaster and Calico Racing.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT’S top Beyer Figure run came from SIGNATURE DATA, a son of Ontario sired Signature Red, who won an optional claiming race with an 89 Beyer for owner Howard Walton and trainer John Mattine. The 3-year-old has won two of his four career races.
MUBTAAHIJ IS AWESOME OFF LONG LAYOFF
Win gets him in Breeders’ Cup Classic
Fifth, but attentive to the pace leaving the half mile pole, Irish-bred Mubtaahij embarked upon a protracted run into the far turn, rallied three-wide turning for home and was up to win Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes by 1 ½ lengths over Midnight Storm. Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke and trained by Bob Baffert, Mubtaahij got a mile and one eighth in 1:51.32.
Idle since running fourth, beaten nine lengths, behind his superstar stablemate Arrogate in the Group I Dubai World Cup on March 25, Mubtaahij was winless in 10 starts since taking the Group I UAE Derby in March, 2015. Off at 3-1 in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up, he paid $8.20, $4.80 and $4.20.
Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, 5-year-old Mubtaahij improved his overall mark to 18-4-4-1. With the winner’s check of $180,000, he increased his earnings to $4,529,332.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Midnight Storm relinquished the lead in mid-stretch, but kept to his task gamely, finishing second by a head over longshot Win the Space. Off at 8-1, Midnight Storm paid $6.00 and $4.80.
Canadian-bred BREAKING LUCKY was chasing from off the pace early in the race, made a mild, wide move on the turn but stalled in the stretch and finished 5th beaten 6 1/4 lengths.