Impressive performances were par for the course on Saturday at Woodbine. Three graded stakes events highlighted a busy afternoon of racing, beginning with the $125,000 Ontario Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds.
The 1 1/8-mile Tapeta test was billed as a showdown between Mighty Heart and Belichick, the stars of the 2020 Canadian Triple Crown. But in the end, the U.S. raider Field Pass stole the show thanks to a sensational ride from jockey Kazushi Kimura.
Reserved in third place while saving ground behind splits of :24.30, :47.92, and 1:11.51, Field Pass was trapped behind runners at the top of the stretch, desperate for a way through. At this juncture, Kimura boldly guided Field Pass through a narrow opening between Mighty Heart and Malibu Mambo, and the gray colt responded with a fresh burst of speed that carried him to victory by a length over Belichick.
Field Pass reached the finish line in 1:48.35, missing the track record by just 0.11 while securing his fifth stakes win of 2020 for trainer Mike Maker and owner Three Diamonds Farm. Malibu Mambo and Mighty Heart weakened to complete the superfecta, followed by Mnemba Island, Deviant, Dune of Pilat, and Lucky Curlin.
“Such a classy horse,” Kimura told Woodbine. The up-and-coming rider was guiding the son of Lemon Drop Kid for the first time. “I’ve watched him many times, winning replays. He’s nice, a nice horse.”
Field Pass wasn’t the only surprise winner of the day. Six-time Sovereign Award winner Pink Lloyd was expected to prevail in the $175,000 Kennedy Road (G2), but the aging 8-year-old failed to bring his A-game, rallying only mildly to finish third while toting top weight of 128 pounds.
In the meantime, 2018 Del Mar Derby (G2) winner Ride a Comet displayed impressively acceleration in his second start off a 25-month layoff, rallying powerfully under Patrick Husbands to dominate the 7-furlong sprint by 1 1/4 lengths. Owned by John C. Oxley and My Meadowview Farm, the 5-year-old son of Candy Ride carried 121 pounds across the finish line in 1:08.25, just 0.20 off Pink Lloyd’s course record.
Runner-up Souper Stonehenge raced evenly, advancing into fractions of :22.77 and :44.79 before pulling two lengths clear of Pink Lloyd to complete a 1-2 finish for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. Silent Poet, Eskiminzin, Roaring Forties, and Dixie’s Gamble trailed the field.
“He’s my favorite horse of all time… He went a good race, he showed he’s all class,” said Husbands. “Pink Lloyd, you have to respect him. He’s a legend at Woodbine, and it’s a great honor to run against him and try to beat him. When you beat him, you’ve got to be really happy, but you have to respect him.”
The day’s graded stakes action concluded with a dramatic photo finish in the $175,000 Bessarabian (G2) for fillies and mares dashing 7 furlongs. Favored Artie’s Princess, with Kimura in the saddle, was always prominent while tracking splits of :22.31 and :44.41. After assuming a clear lead in the stretch, the talented 3-year-old had to dig deep to withstand a late charge from longshot Boardroom, but the wire came just in time for Artie’s Princess to hang on by a head in 1:20.90.
“I felt [jockey Luis Contreras and Boardroom coming] but she wasn’t that tired and kept going,” Kimura said. “I felt I could win.”
Our Secret Agent finished 3 1/2 lengths behind the top two in third place, followed by Amalfi Coast, Painting, Jakarta, and Souper Escape.
A homebred racing for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Artie’s Princess is a daughter of We Miss Artie conditioned by Wesley Ward. The improving bay filly is a neck away from being undefeated in six starts over the Woodbine Tapeta, suggesting she’ll be a synthetic specialist to reckon with in 2021.