November 28, 2020

March to the Arch gives jockey Hernandez three stakes wins at Woodbine

March to the Arch
Jockey Rafael Hernandez guides March to the Arch in the $175,000 dollar King Edward Stakes (Michael Burns Photo)

March to the Arch set himself up for a possible tilt in next month’s Woodbine Mile (G1) while improving his record on the Toronto turf to 2-for-2 in Saturday’s $134,808 King Edward Stakes (G2). It was also the third stakes win of the day for jockey Rafael Hernandez.

Out the back early as Admiralty Pier set an honest pace, March to the Arch gradually improved position while chasing splits of :23.90, :46.23, and 1:09.24. After saving ground on the turn, March to the Arch angled out in the stretch, wore down the long-time leader and won going away by 2 1/4 lengths. The final time for one mile on firm ground was 1:32.28.

A Florida homebred campaigned by Live Oak and trained by Mark Casse, March to the Arch paid $9.60. Admiralty Pier was second by two lengths over Silent Poet.

This was the fifth stakes win for the 5-year-old gelded son of Arch, whose previous high came in the 2019 Wise Dan (G2) at Churchill Downs. Winner of the 2018 Toronto Cup in his lone previous try on the local sod, March to the Arch was exiting a sixth-place effort in his title defense of the Wise Dan on June 20.

“You know, the race at Churchill was a really tough race; a lot of good horses came out of that race, so it looks a little better, but he’s just such a nice horse. He tries every time,” said assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan.

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Theodora B. earned the first stakes win of her career by posting a wire-to-wire upset of the $132,434 Dance Smartly Stakes (G2) by three-quarters of a length over 7-5 favorite Etoile.

Ridden by Justin Stein, the Michael Dickinson-trained 5-year-old mare prevailed in a time of 2:02.35 for 1 1/4 miles on the turf. Etoile finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Elizabeth Way.

“I knew someone would have to really be running, another horse would have to really be running to get by her,” Stein said. “She was giving me everything she had, and I had a lot of horse left in the tank. She showed her pump the whole way down the stretch.”

Bred in Kentucky by owner George Strawbridge, Theodora B. had previously placed in six stakes, including the 2019 editions of the Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3) and Maple Leaf (G3).

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Local legend Pink Lloyd slipped through a very narrow seam between rivals in deep stretch and recorded his 25th victory from 30 lifetime starts in the $106,901 Bold Venture Stakes (G3).

Packing 128 pounds with Rafael Hernandez up, the 2017 Canadian Horse of the Year won by a neck from Olympic Runner, to whom he was giving seven pounds, with Malibu Secret 3 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Pink Lloyd covered 6 1/2 furlongs on the Tapeta in 1:16.03 and returned $3.20.

“He broke well, there was no pace in the race so I had to play it by ear, put him behind a horse…those other two horses made the pace and I just sat behind them and waited for the time to push the button,” said Hernandez.

Owned by Entourage Stables and trained by Robert Tiller, the 8-year-old Old Forester gelding has now won 22 stakes and earned slightly more than $1.5 million. This, however, was Pink Lloyd’s first win in the Bold Venture in three attempts.

“He made up for me because I won the race [43] years ago at the old Greenwood Racetrack with a horse called Pres de Tu so I really wanted to see him win it,” said Tiller.

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Canadian juvenile filly Curlin’s Voyage stamped herself as a possible candidate for next month’s Queen’s Plate while the colt Clayton definitely did so on Saturday.

Favored in the $377,481 Woodbine Oaks over 1 1/8 miles, Curlin’s Voyage snuck up the inside approaching the turn for home and outran runner-up Afleet Katherine down the lane to win by 1 3/4 lengths under Patrick Husbands. Merveilleux rallied for third.

Trained by Josie Carroll for breeder Hill ‘n’ Dale and Windsor Boys Racing, Curlin’s Voyage paid $4.70 after covering the distance in 1:50.04.

Winner of the Mazarine (G3) and Ontario Lassie last season, Curlin’s Voyage ran second in the Star Shoot S. in her season debut before rebounding to beat several of her Oaks rivals in the 7-furlong Fury S. on July 5.

Carroll previously trained Inglorious to the Woodbine Oaks/Queen’s Plate double, in 2011, but is taking a wait-and-see approach with the daughter of Curlin.

“You know, with Inglorious I think I had everybody frustrated because I wouldn’t make up my mind until the week before the Plate. I’m very much about my individual horses and she’s going to tell us.”

Curlin’s Voyage’s record now stands at 9-5-2-1, $503,545.

Clayton made a successful three-wide bid for the lead turning for home and stayed on to win the $113,064 Plate Trial by a half-length under Rafael Hernandez, with Halo Again second by a head over Dotted Line. His time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.61.

The 3-5 favorite, Clayton returned $3.20. He’s owned by Donato Lanni and Daniel Plouffe, and is trained by Kevin Attard.

A son of Bodemeister, Clayton has now won three of four starts. This initial stakes triumph boosted his career earnings to $154,215.