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Sterwins heads for the winner's cricle after the 2009 Connaught Cup with trainer Malcolm Pierce holding him on the right.
The $150,000 Connaught Cup Stakes (G3) is the first stakes event of the year run over Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf Course. A field of seven older horses went to post on Sunday afternoon in this 1 1/16 mile trip around one turn under ideal conditions, with clear skies, a very firm turf course, and temperatures in the low 70's. As expected, Rahy's Attorney, the 2008 Sovereign Award winner as Canada's champion turf male, was sent off as the 5-2 favorite, unraced since finishing a disappointing ninth in the Mile Championship at Kyoto after finishing sixth in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. In to challenge the Ellie-Boje Farm homebred included 3-1 second choice Society's Chairman, winner of an allowance at Keeneland last out after finishing third by a neck in the Tampa Bay Stakes, and 7-2 third choice Sterwins, fifth in the Ben Ali at Keeneland in his last start.
Rahy's Attorney leads in the stretch while Sterwins chases him down on the outside.
Regular rider Slade Callaghan sent Rahy's Attorney to the front exiting the chute and he set a quick pace of 24.34, 46.94, and 1:10.28 over the firm course, while as many as 2 1/2 lengths in front of 10-1 French Beret who stalked him in second. Entering the long stretch, Rahy's Attorney continued to lead, with a 2 length advantage with a furlong remaining. Sterwins, who had raced at the back of the field early under Patrick Husbands, came out 6 wide into the stretch. Sterwins steadily gained on the pacesetting favorite and got up just in time by a head in a new course record time of 1:38.99. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to late-running Society's Chairman third. The running time was 0.21 seconds faster than the previous 1 1/16 mile turf record, set in June 1995 by Jet Freighter.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Sterwins Husbands 8.80 4.40 2.70 3 Rahy's Attorney Callaghan 4.10 3.00 1 Society's Chairman Jones 2.70 Winning Time: 1:38.99 (new track record) $2 Exacta 7-3 30.00 $2 Trifecta 7-3-1 89.70Results chart
Sterwins in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Malcolm Pierce said, "He trained well into the race. I expected a lot bigger race from him (in the Ben Ali). He ran fifth and not a super effort. We had a lot of time between races coming into that spot. I was hoping that race would move him forward for today. Apparently, as a 3-year-old he was more nervous. With age, he has settled down. I don't think he really has to carry his surface with him. Things have been going well. I hope nothing changes."
Left: Sterwins returns after the race. Winning jockey Patrick Husbands said, "I set him down and he gave me everything. I had Slade (Callaghan aboard Rahy's Attorney) beat the last four strides and his horse dug back in. (I said), 'Wow!' He's really called a racehorse. It's unbelievable getting this horse back. He got hurt (last year). He ran a big race today."
Right: Sterwins gets hosed off on his way to the barn.
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Rahy's Attorney returns after the race. The 5-2 favorite took command soon after the start under regular jockey Slade Callaghan, was all-out in the stretch but failed to hold off Sterwins in the final strides. The Ian Black-trained son of Crown Attorney improved his record to 7 wins, 3 seconds, and 4 thirds in 20 starts, earning $1,118,734 for owner-breeder Ellie-Boje Farm.
Right: Third place finisher Society's Chairman in the post parade. The 3-1 third choice raced at the back of the field down the backstretch under jockey Jono Jones, came 4-wide into the lane and closed well to get third place money, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. The Roger Attfield trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 13 starts, earning $294,029 for owner Charles Fipke.
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