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Jockey Dino Luciani celebrates after winning the Ontario Derby aboard Shillelagh Slew.
The $200,000 Ontario Derby (G3) at Woodbine usually does not have much bearing on year-end voting for Canada's champion 3-year-old or Horse of the Year. However, despite its Grade 3 status, the 2006 edition brought together some of the top horses of the division. A field of six went to the gate in this 1 1/8 mile feature over the Polytrack, with Shillelagh Slew sent off as the lukewarm 2-1 favorite off his win the Canadian Derby at Northlands Park last time out. He was third in the Breeders' Stakes in August and won the Prince of Wales Stakes by disqualification in July. In to challenge him were 5-2 second choice Oh So Awesome, shipping in from Belmont Park after two 5th place finishes in graded stakes company, in the Belmont Stakes and in the Jim Dandy, and 2.85-1 third choice Royal Challenger, winner of his last two starts including the Breeders' Stakes. However, the race lost some of its luster when expected favorite Seaside Retreat scratched.
A seagull races with Stradivinsky for the lead shortly after the start with Shillelagh Slew and Storm Caller right behind.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Shillelagh Slew Luciani 6.40 3.20 2.50 7 Royal Challenger Kabel 3.50 2.70 4 Storm Caller McAleney 3.50 Winning Time: 1:51.65 $2 Exacta 1-7 18.80 $2 Trifecta 1-7-4 107.80
Shillelagh Slew in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mike DePaulo (far left) said, "He's really changed from two to three. He was sort of a skinny guy last year and he's a bigger, stronger horse this year. We've got a really nice horse. Hopefully, we're going to continue."
Shillelagh Slew in the post parade before the race. Winning jockey Dino Luciani said, "He's just come into himself. He's done everything we asked and he proved it once again today how good he really is."
Left: Third place finisher Storm Caller leads the main pack behind the pacesetter as they pass by the stands for the first time.
Right: Second place finisher Royal Challenger in the post parade before the race.
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