Jono Jones and A Bit O'Gold head for the winner's circle after the Prince of Wales Stakes.
The third leg of Canada's Triple Crown was contested on Sunday at Woodbine as a field of eleven 3-year-olds went to post in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, a complete 1 1/2 mile trip around the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. Silver Ticket was sent off as the 3-2 favorite, coming off a win in the Grade 3 Toronto Cup. He was just one of four horses sent out by owner Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad. Queen's Plate runner-up and Prince of Wales Stakes winner A Bit O'Gold was the 5-2 second choice in his first try at turf and at the distance. A Bit O'Gold's nemesis, Plate winner Niigon, skipped this race in favor of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on the same afternoon.
When the field got underway, 18-1 longshot and Sam-Son entrant Burst of Fire was set straight to the front by jockey Slade Callaghan, and he got loose on the lead, slowing the pace down through fractions of 24.61, 48.95, 1:14.16, and 1:38.79 over the first mile. Jockey Jono Jones kept A Bit O'Gold relaxed, briefly letting Burst of Fire get 4 lengths clear at the end of the backstretch but staying within 1 1/2 lengths of the leader for most of the long trip, just to his outside. Turning for home, Burst of Fire looked like he could steal the race on the front end, through 1 1/4 miles in a slow 2:03.15, but A Bit O'Gold showed his class at the 3/16 pole. Jones asked for run and got it, as A Bit O'Gold surged to the front and easily held off the pacesetter to win by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 2:27.15 over the firm course. It was another 1 1/4 length back to favorite Silver Ticket in third. The $300,000 winner's share made A Bit O'Gold racing's newest millionaire.
The final time 2:27.15 over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course is the second fastest Breeders' clocking since the Triple Crown was inaugurated in 1959, with the record of 2:26 2/5 held by 1995 winner Charlie's Dewan. A Bit O'Gold is only 3/4 of a length short of being a Triple Crown winner given his second place finish to Niigon in the Queen's Plate. Niigon opted to contest the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes Sunday at Saratoga instead of the Breeders', where he finished a decent fourth to Purge but was elevated to third when Eddington was disqualified for interference.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 A Bit O'Gold Jones 6.90 4.50 2.70 3 Burst of Fire Callaghan 14.30 5.20 6 Silver Ticket Kabel 2.30 Winning Time: 2:27.15 $2 Exacta 4-3 81.20 $2 Trifecta 4-3-6 170.60
As usual, click the small photo to see a larger version.
A Bit O'Gold alone at the finish of the Breeders' Stakes. Jockey Jono Jones said, "My horse was travelling good. I knew we always had lots of time to get him (Burst of Fire). He handled it (the turf) very good."
Putting the blanket of flowers on A Bit O'Gold. Trainer Catherine Day-Phillips said, "He's always given his best down the lane and with the distance, he'd keep trying and it worked out. He's just a fabulous horse and we're all just really lucky to be part of him. He's a great horse."
In the winner's circle. Winning trainer Catherine Day-Phillips said, "Down the backside, I saw he was relaxing. In fact, going into the far turn, I looked at Jono's reins and that made me relax and realize that he had a lot of horse left and hadn't picked him up. When he picked him up, he just gave his best and gave it all. He's always given his best down the lane and with the distance, he'd keep trying and it worked out. He's just a fabulous horse and we're all just really lucky to be part of him. He's a great horse."
Jockey Jono Jones kisses the trophy as trainer Catherine Day-Phillips (right) watches. He said, "He's just a trier. Anything you put him against, he'll try his best to beat him. Who knows how good he is. When I worked him the other day, he came down the lane really comfortably. I knew they'd have to come running to beat him."
Eventual winner A Bit O'Gold in the post parade. Winning trainer Catherine Day-Phillips said, "In the paddock, when we started to saddle him, he stepped on his left hind shoe and pulled it, sprung it, as they call it. It was basically falling off. So we had to repair it. Mike Dunslow, the paddock blacksmith, put the shoe back on and everything was fine. I think I handled it worse than he did. Jono said 'This is not a bad sign. In the Wonder Where Stakes, my horse (My Vintage Port) pulled its shoe right before as well, so this is not a bad sign, Miss Catherine'"
Second place finisher Burst of Fire enters the walking ring. His jockey Slade Callaghan said, "I had a perfect trip. My horse is a big, long galloping horse. We had to just get him doing his own thing. And luckily he got a chance to relax and do everything by himself. And it helped us a lot. I think today we were just beaten by a better horse. My horse tried his heart out. You really can't ask for much more than that."
Third place finisher Silver Ticket in the post parade. His jockey Todd Kabel said, "I was sitting comfortably beside A Bit O'Gold and I thought if I had any horse turning for home that we would make a horse race out of it. But he just flattened out. Hopefully, he's 100 per cent, but I can't really make any excuses. He was a lot more relaxed than I thought he would be. I thought he might be rank and pull me to the lead. I don't know if he was just looking around with me today. I just can't make any excuses. Maybe he just didn't want to go a mile and a half."
On the undercard was the $131,750 Nandi Stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies, all of whom were making their first stakes starts. Favorite Bosskiri did not disappoint her backers, grabbing the lead after a half mile in 46.40 and drawing off to win by 5 1/4 widening lengths in 1:11.77 for 6 furlongs on the fast main track. Trainer Reade Baker said, "It’s nice to win and to have a good horse. They look like a pretty good filly when they draw off like that. We’ll go in the Muskoka Stakes (September 4). She’s big enough and robust enough, she might be able to stand another one in between. We should have some fun with her this fall." Jockey Jim McAleney added, "The nice thing about this filly today was that she was very professional. She was very ratable and rideable throughout the entire race."
Results Chart from Equibase.
Also on the undercard was the $104,000 With Approval Stakes for older Canadian-bred horses at about 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Surging River stalked the early pace of 7-2 favorite Le Cinquieme Essai through a half in 46.10, challenged for the lead at the top of the stretch and then held him off by a length at the line, in a new course record time of 1:42.87. Trainer Mark Frostad said, “He’s a nice little horse. He’s a little bulldog. He’s always been very competitive. It’s taken awhile to get him to where he is now, but he’s doing very well and we hope there will be a lot more in him. That’s a pretty fast time, but this turf is in great shape. It’s not a hard turf but it’s in wonderful shape. The horses bounce over it and get a good feel from it. The course record is icing on the cake."
Results Chart from Equibase.
Breeders' Stakes info online:
All photos ©2004 Cindy Pierson Dulay.
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