Shoal Water (outside) and Mobil duke it out in the stretch run of the Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes at Woodbine.
The Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes is the most important mid-season turf race of the Woodbine meet, and over its short history has seen some of the best local horses take on some well-regarded shippers over its 1 3/8 mile distance for a total purse of $300,000. 1998 winner Buck's Boy went on to win that year's Breeders' Cup Turf, and in 2000, winner Quiet Resolve went on to finish second by a nose to Kalanisi in that year's Breeders' Cup Turf.
Last year's winner Strut the Stage, sent off at 6.50-1, was back to take on last year's runner-up Perfect Soul, the 8-5 favorite. Also in the field were Strut the Stage's stablemate Shoal Water at 5.35-1 and two John Chandler-owned horses shipped in by trainer Michael Dickinson, Bowman Mill and 10-year-old Cetewayo, both at just over 12-1.
When the gate opened, it was 6.55-1 shot Mobil who gunned straight to the front under jockey Jono Jones, and he led the field through respectable but relaxed initial fractions of 24.19, 48.52, and 1:12.72 down the long Woodbine backstretch, saving ground along the rail. Todd Kabel kept Shoal Water just to his outside a length back in second. On the turn, the field bunched up but Mobil continued to gold the lead after a mile in 1:36.82, with Shoal Water breathing down his neck. On the long 2 1/2 furlong straightaway, Shoal Water and Mobil hooked up for a prolonged duel. With just a furlong to go, Shoal Water got about a length ahead, but the stubborn Mobil would not yield easily, battling back only to finish just a neck behind. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to Strut the Stage in third. The final time for Shoal Water was 2:12.37, a new course record for the distance. The previous record was 2:13.05 set by Dawson's Legacy in 1999. Favorite Perfect Soul settled in fifth early, gained on the leaders on the turn, but flattened out through the lane and finished fifth. The two Dickinson runners trailed the field throughout and lacked response for the drive, with Bowman Mill finishing seventh and Cetewayo finishing last.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Shoal Water Kabel 12.70 5.70 5.40 1 Mobil Jones 7.90 5.90 2 Strut the Stage Callaghan 5.50 Winning Time: 2:12.37 $2 Exacta 5-1 89.00 $2 Trifecta 5-1-2 515.40
As usual, click the small photo to see a larger version.
Shoal Water on the outside just edges out Mobil in track record time of 2:12.37 for the 1 3/8 miles on the turf.
Shoal Water in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mark Frostad said, ""He wasn't much the best as Mobil dug back in and gave us quite a scare coming back in the last few yards, but (Shoal Water) hung on. He ran a great race." Frostad added that Shoal Water will start next in the Grade 2 Niagara Breeders' Cup at 1 1/2 miles on Labour Day.
Shoal Water and jockey Todd Kabel head out of the walking ring for the post parade. Kabel said, "Today he was full of run, he always is, but he's been unfortunate. He just missed by inches in both his last two races. Today was his game day and he showed up. He was great."
Second place finisher Mobil in the post parade.
Third place finisher Strut the Stage in the walking ring.
Shoal Water's win was not the only record setting performance on Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf Course over the weekend. On Saturday, another Sam-Son Farm gelding, Soaring Free, went gate to wire to win the $107,000 Ontario Jockey Club Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths, going a blistering 1:19.38 for the 7 furlongs on turf after rattling off early fractions of 23.06, 45.54, and 1:08.08. This not only set a new turf course record but also a new North American record. The previous record was 1:19.88 set by Officialpermission in 2000 at Belmont Park. Trainer Mark Frostad indicated that Shoal Water will ultimately start in the Grade 1 Atto Mile on September 19. Shoal Water completed a weekend stakes sweep for his connections, owner Sam-Son Farms, trainer Mark Frostad, and jockey Todd Kabel.
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All photos ©2004 Cindy Pierson Dulay.
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