Pay for Peace upsets Plate Trial


It was a great day for the husband and wife team of jockey Steve Bahen and trainer Rachel Halden as each won stakes race on Saturday with horses headed to the Queen’s Plate.

Bahen, a longtime horsebacker at Woodbine, guided Sam-Son Farms’ DESERT RIDE (Candy Ride-Arg – Fun in the Desert by Distorted Humor) from far back to win the 64th WOODBINE OAKS worth $500,000 in the last jump. The filly was a hefty 8 to 1 in the betting.

A race earlier, Halden sent out 19 to 1 longshot PAY FOR PEACE (Silent Name-Jpn – Dancing Bay by Sligo Bay-Ire)  to win the Plate Trial for American owners Team Penney and Lisa Mo

Trained by American conditioner Neil Howard, Desert Ride had won two of three starts, all on grass and all in the US. She was wrangled back to last by Bahen early in the 9 furlong race, was under a hard scrub around the last turn, moved 5 wide off the turn and into contention.

Meanwhile, it appeared Chiefswood Stables’ BOLD SCRIPT had just made the winning move in mid stretch to overhaul race favourite Speedy Soul but out of nowhere, Desert Ride nabbed her on the wire by a neck. Speedy Soul was third.

The time was 1:50.43, markedly faster than the Plate Trial, the previous race, which went in 1:51.63.

“I’ve watched her races and she’s come from behind,” said Bahen, who was partnered with the Neil Howard trainee for the first time in her four starts. “Neil said just get her settled in and try to give her a good trip. Down the backside, it looked like I’m going to get out now and give her a shot to run at them, and I started a little early with her, but when she turned for home, she gave me a huge run like she did in her previous races.”

Bahen collected his third Oaks trophy following prior wins with Silent Fleet (1996) and Nipissing (2013).

“A fantastic filly from a fantastic family and we’re just so happy to be back up here again,” said Rick Balaz, President & General Manager of Sam-Son Farm. “It’s been a little while for us and it’s pretty exciting. We’ll see where we go next with her, but hopefully she’s got a great future.”

Since the winner’s dam, one-time winner Fun in the Desert, is a half sister to Queen’s Plate winner Eye of the Leopard (out of 2004 Oaks winner Eye of the Sphynx) and since fillies have been dominating the Plate, it would seem likely Desert Ride will go to the Plate.

If you want to remind yourselves of Team Penney, the family from Maine, they had a wonderful mare named FLIPCUP by Milwaukee Brew –

Penney Goes From Last to First



The Plate Trial, the last major stepping stone to the June 29 Plate that usually attracts the boys, was missing the big two favourites for the Plate. AVIE’S FLATTER will make his 3rd start of the year in the Plate having won the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes on grass at Keeneland before landing on the fringes in the American Turf at Churchill. He won the Coronation Futurity last year and of course, has the ‘Coronation-Plate’ jinx to knock off. The last horse to win the Coronation and then the Plate was Norcliffe in 75/76.

So the Trial went off with a mish-mash of maidens and minor winners and stakes winners Federal Law and Dun Drum. The former, by the fancy sire Scat Daddy, is a bit of a quirky sort who won the Queenston turning back in distance to 7 furlongs while Dun Drum, by sprint sire Bold ‘n Flashy, won last year’s Kingarvie at 1 1/16 miles.

Federal Law emerged with the lead up the rail into the first turn and built up a four-length advantage on his foes through fractions of :24.17, :48.64 and 1:12.73.

Meanwhile, Dun Drum followed in second-place with Contreras getting what he described as a “dream trip” aboard Pay for Peace, who settled back in third.

For Federal Law, it was a game of ‘catch me if you can’ and Pay for Peace caught him after rallying three-wide in the final turn of the 1-1/8-mile Tapeta test for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds.

He hit the mile mark in 1:38.25 and prevailed by 1-3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:51.63. Federal Law held on in a photo finish for second-place between a very fast-closing Rising Star and even-running Moon Swings.

A one-time winner from seven previous starts, Pay for Peace returned $41.90 for a $2 win ticket.

“You’ve got a chance to win if you’re in the race,” said Contreras, who previously won back-to-back editions of the Plate Trial Stakes with Danish Dynaformer (2015) and Amis Gizmo (2016). “You never know. I told Rachel before, I think he likes to run, and he likes to run all day, so he can run further. I think it’s his style to be in the long races.

Bred by Brian Lynch Racing and owned by Team Penney Racing and Carem Stables, Pay for Peace broke his maiden over one-mile and 70 yards last November at Woodbine, but had been winless in his first two sophomore starts.

“I’m just absolutely delighted,” said Halden. “Obviously, he’s just taken a little while to come back around this year for us. He did run a very good race his last start against older horses and looking at this race, we were hoping to maybe get a piece of it because it didn’t look like it was going to be a huge field.”

The winning effort has put the $1 million Queen’s Plate, set for June 29, on the gelding’s radar.

“We weren’t thinking about it,” admitted Halden. “Like I say, he’s just a real big old galloper. I think this horse will step up on the turf and we’ve been kind of thinking Breeders’. He did jump up and run a big race today. We will definitely be thinking about it now and we’ll see how he comes out of it and have a discussion with his owners and see.”

Trainer Brian Lynch conditioned Pay for Peace’s dam dancing Bay for Dansanray Stables in 2012 and 2013. She was stakes placed and then became an Ontario broodmare. Her first foal was placed Maxixe, Pay for Peace is her second foal.

Coincidentally, the mare’s 2-year-old of this year, CHOOSE HAPPINESS, by Mineshaft, is a New York who was bred by Team Penney and Carm Stable (Mosa) and the 2yo filly had her 9th workout of the year Friday morning at Saratoga.

So Desert Ride joins Avie’s Flatter and Skywire as the major Plate contenders for this year. The low horse population no doubt has played a role in the number of big-time Canadian-bred 3-year-olds (horses with strong Beyer Speed Figures in the high 80s).

Thoroughblog’s Queen’s Plate Top 10

1. Avie’s Flatter
2. Skywire
3. Desert Ride
4. Bold Script
5. Pay for Peace
6. Federal Law
7. He’s a Macho Man
8. One Bad Boy
9. Tone Broke
10. Speedy Soul

*Rising Star is a maiden but finished strongly in the Plate Trial and he deserves a look on the list.





SIR WINSTON upsets Belmont Stakes for Tracy Farmer/Mark Casse

Trained at Woodbine as a 2-year-old, son of Awesome Again has dream trip


SIR WINSTON, winner of Woodbine’s Display Stakes, won the Belmont over Tacitus – NYRA PHOTO












with files from NYRA PRESS –
Tracy Farmer’s Sir Winston (Awesome Again – La Gran Bailadora by Afleet Alex)  rose to the challenge in his first start in an American Classic, overtaking pacesetter Joevia in the stretch and holding off 9-5 favorite Tacitus for a one-length victory in the 151st running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Sir Winston’s first career graded stakes win provided trainer Mark Casse his first victory in the “Test of the Champion” three weeks after stablemate and fellow Belmont contender War of Will won the Preakness to give Casse his first win in a Triple Crown race.

“He’s an amazing little horse. If at this time last year, if you had asked me to rate our top-20 2-year-olds, he would have been about 16th or 17th. But I’m very proud of him because he’s kind of what our operation represents, and that is I feel like we develop horses,” Casse said. “I have this philosophy. I start every horse out thinking that they are going to win the Kentucky Derby, or the Oaks. That’s what I do. And I will try different surfaces; I will try different methods. With a horse like Sir Winston, you know, it paid off there.”

Jockey Joel Rosario patiently kept Sir Winston covered in eighth position out of the clubhouse turn as Joevia, the longest shot at 21-1, led the 10-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 23.92 seconds and the half in 48.79 over the fast track in front of an announced crowd of 56,217.

On the backstretch, Tax kept close with Joevia, with three-quarters going in 1:13.54 and the mile in 1:38.27 as Rosario utilized a ground-saving trip. Finding an opening near the rail, Sir Winston was moved up to third out of the final turn and was tipped out, moving past Tax and Joevia from the outside as Tacitus, under Jose Ortiz, rallied from the outside. But Rosario kept to task on Sir Winston, completing the 1 ½-mile challenge in 2:28.30.

SIR WINSTON not only developed in canada but he is from a popular Canadian female family. Tracing back to his 3rd dam, WOOLOOMOOLOO, the stakes winning Regal Intention mare for Dick and Jo Ellen Shaw, Sir Winston is from Wooloomooloo’s granddaughter LaGran Bailadora a  daughter of Affirmed Dancer.

Casse, a 10-time Sovereign Award winner for Outstanding Trainer in Canada who registered his first win in 1979, saddled a pair of entrants, with Gary Barber’s War of Will as the 3-1 second choice. Instead, Sir Winston, whose best finish in a graded stakes came in a runner-up effort to Global Campaign in the Grade 3 Peter Pan last out on May 11 at Belmont, won while racing for the first time at longer than 1 1/8 miles. War of Will finished ninth.

Casse said War of Will and Sir Winston could both target the 10-furlong Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course.

“I tell you what, they all better watch out going to a mile-and-a-quarter because Sir Winston will come running, too. Sir Winston is a pretty serious horse, so don’t count him out,” Casse said.

Casse said he remained confident in War of Will’s ability going forward.

“You didn’t see the real War of Will today. I know that,” Casse said. “So, we’ve got to get back and figure out what’s up and why he didn’t run better.

“As far as War of Will, first we’ll have a couple days and make sure how he is. [We’ll] probably send him back to Kentucky [and] give him a little break. The plan would be, and I would have to discuss it with Gary Barber, but we’re going to aim him for the Travers.

“Again I’ll talk to Mr. Farmer but I don’t think there’s much out there he would enjoy more than winning the Travers, so I’m sure he’ll be all for that,” he added.

Tacitus, the winner of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets in April at Aqueduct Racetrack, finished three-quarters of a length clear of Joevia for second, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott his second runner-up finish in the Belmont and first since Vison and Verse in 1999. Mott won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer.

“It looked like he kind of ducked in a little bit in mid-stretch at the eighth pole. He came running and finished up the race good, but it looked like he just got going too late,” Mott said. “I probably shouldn’t comment too much without seeing the rerun, but it was a little bit of a wide trip. We did have a bit of a wide trip, which you never like. He came running and looked like he was traveling better than anybody. We planned to try and be in contention at the quarter-pole and he was. He just couldn’t get there.”