*Full weekend wrap-up on Monday on Thoroughblog
*Coming up today – WONDER WHERE STAKES at Woodbine, third jewel of the Triple Tiara featuring DIXIE MOON and SAFE TO SAY; Ontario Sires Derby Trials at Ajax Downs
CTHS ONTARIO SALE – Horses in today at Woodbine with siblings in the catalogue:
RACE 2 MSW
# 5 In Gus We Trust Hip 45 1/2 bro by To Honor and Serve
RACE 4 ALW/OC
# 8 Prideofdistinction Hip 275 1/2 sis by Danza
RACE 8 ALW/OC
# 3 Alkeline Hip 17 1/2 sis by We Miss Artie
RACE 9 WONDER WHERE
# 1 Safe to Say Hip 82 1/2 sis by Old Forester
RACE 10 ALW/OC
#4 Ellas My Love Hip 154 1/2 bro by Souper Speedy
RACE 11 ALW/OC
#2 Sam’s Cross Hip 28 1/2 sis by Old Forester
#4 Fresh Dreams Hip 40 1/2 bro by Giant Gizmo
#7 Whatta Girl Hip 1 1/2 sis by Giant Gizmo
PIANO BAR STABLE WINS FIRST STAKES RACE!
$35,000 yearling purchase at CTHS Ontario sale
Red Cabernet (third stakes winner for young sire SIGNATURE RED) defeated defending Victoriana Stakes champion Niigon’s Eclipse to give her connections lots to celebrate on Saturday after this year’s $100,000 edition, which was rescheduled after Monday’s cancellation at Woodbine.
Trained by Ian Black for the new Piano Bar Racing ownership group, Red Cabernet put jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson back in the stakes spotlight for the first time this year.
“This spring didn’t really go according to plan,” said Wilson, who sustained an arm injury during morning training just before the Woodbine meet opened and returned to action only two weeks ago. “A broken arm, three months off, longer than I expected, so this stakes victory is extra sweet.”
Red Cabernet settled off the pace in the 1-1/16-mile turf stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares three and up while Niigon’s Eclipse took command from Silent Sonet past the first quarter mark in :24.28. The even-money favourite reached the half in :47.41 and continued to lead past three-quarters in 1:11.07 while Sugar Jones moved into contention. However, Wilson sent Red Cabernet widest of all from the backfield down the stretch and she ran up a 3-1/2 length winning margin before hitting the wire in 1:41.34.
“She’s the type of filly that runs her best race from off the pace,” said Wilson, the 2018 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award recipient. “On paper, it looked like they were going be a little aggressive. But this quality of fillies, you can do anything you want with them so when they started getting a little quicker up front and I was happy and comfortable travelling in a nice rhythm in behind, I thought if she kicks away the way she kicked last time for Omar [Moreno] within range, I thought she’d blow right by them and she did.”
Bred in Ontario by Paul Buttigieg, Red Cabernet is a four-year-old chestnut filly by Signature Red out of Gold Leaf Rose. She earned her fourth career win from 15 starts and first stakes victory for a group of six new owners led by Jim Menzies.
The filly was a $35,000 yearling purchase from the CTHS Ontario sale three years ago, one of 2 horses bought by the new Piano Bar group.
An avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan, Menzies admitted a stakes victory at Woodbine trumps a Stanley Cup win in his books.
“A stakes victory is a much bigger deal. As big of a Leafs fan as I am, it doesn’t get much better than this, I must say,” he said, adding that Piano Bar Racing, named after a popular vacation spot for the group, will be celebrating the big win with a couple bottles of wine tonight.
Red Cabernet was sent off as the 6-1 third wagering choice and paid $15.10, $4.70 and $2.90. She combined with Niigon’s Eclipse ($2.80, $2.30) for a 5-2 exacta worth $48.80. Sugar Jones ($4) finished third to complete the 5-2-3 trifecta, which paid $109.65 for a $1 ticket. Crumlin Queen rounded out a $1 superfecta of 5-2-3-1 that returned $276.80.
Adopted Family and Silent Sonet completed the field.
ROBERT BRUCE WINS ARLINGTON MILLION, HE’S ‘IN’ THE BREEDERS’ CUP TURF
Rebounding from a trouble-filled sixth in the Grade 1 Manhattan in June, Chilean-bred and Chilean-owned Robert Bruce (CHI) edged clear of stablemate Almanaar (GB) to win the 36th running of the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million by a half-length. It was the second straight Million win for trainer Chad Brown, who saddled the top two finishers in the Million one race after having the top three in his fourth straight Grade I Beverly D.
About half the field of older horses was stacked across the track with a furlong to run but Robert Bruce swooped past them all to capture the 1¼-mile race over “firm” turf in 2:02.29.
“He’s got an unbelievable kick, but so did the losing horse,” said Brown, Arlington International’s all-time leading Grade I-winning trainer. “They both ran tremendous.”
Robert Bruce earned an automatic berth into the Grade I $4,000,000 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. Brown indicated that he could start once more before then, most likely in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Sept. 29.
Under Irad Ortiz Jr., the 4-year-old Robert Bruce bumped with favored Oscar Performance at the start before settling off the pace, led by Century Dream (IRE) through fractions of 23.66, 48.28, and 1:12.96. As the field bunched up approaching the quarter-pole, Robert Bruce had to go six-wide into the stretch, according to the official Equibase chart, and finding himself second-last.
“Today was a smaller field, a little more speed,” said Ortiz, who won his first Million on his 26th birthday. “Thank God I didn’t have any traffic. On the backside I didn’t want to fight with him, just wanted him to be happy, so when I turned to the backside and went to the two-path I didn’t panic.”
Owner Carlos Lavin of Convento Viejo LLC praised Ortiz’s chilliness even as the other contenders cut the corner ahead of him.
“When he entered the straight and he was in last place, I said, ‘Oh, maybe he’s too far back,’” Lavin said. “But this horse has a change of speed that is incredible. He always starts the same; he makes us suffer.”
Robert Bruce is the first winner with Chilean connections in the storied history of Arlington International’s signature event. By Fast Company (IRE) out of Lady Pelusa (ARG) (Orpen), Robert Bruce took home $582,000 to increase his career earnings to $942,457 and better his record to eight wins in nine lifetime starts, with the lone defeat coming in the Grade I Manhattan Stakes last out. Robert Bruce started his career six-for-six in Chile before being transferred to Brown