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Trainer Darwin Banach (left) and owner William Sorokolit Sr. lead Palace Pier to the winner's circle after the Ontario Lassie Stakes
As the deadline for Sovereign Awards voting fast approaches, the juvenile championship contests were still very close. Conveniently, the last two juvenile stakes races of the year were contested at Woodbine on Saturday afternoon, with the entrants' connections hoping to sway the voters with a win. As well, many of these juveniles are already pointed at next year's Queen's Plate or Woodbine Oaks. Unfortunately for those of us there, the weather was quite windy and bitterly cold.
The $150,000 Ontario Lassie Stakes featured 2-year-old fillies, foaled in Ontario, with seven hopefuls going to the starting gate in this 1 1/16 mile trip over the Polytrack. As expected, Catch The Thrill from the powerful Sam-Son Farm breeding and racing stable, was sent off as the 4-5 favorite off her win in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes last time out. In to challenge was 2-1 second choice Quiet Action, who was second to Catch The Thrill in that last start but was second in the Natalma (G3) against open company two starts back. Runaway maiden winner Love You Crazy was the 5-1 third choice in her first stakes start.
Palace Pier out front shortly after the start of the Ontario Lassie.
12-1 shot Palace Pier went to the front right away and was allowed an uncontested 1 1/2 lengths lead most of the way around, getting slow fractions of 24.01, 47.62, and 1:12.13 despite a stiff tail-wind down the backstretch. Love You Crazy sat second behind her, while favorite Catch The Thrill was back in fifth out of trouble well off the rail. Turning for home, jockey Robert Landry asked Catch The Thrill to make her move, and she passed horses four-wide around the far turn. However, Palace Pier still had plenty left in reserve after such an easy trip. She pulled away to a 3 1/2 length lead at the 1/8 pole and was all-out through the lane to hold off the fast-closing Catch The Thrill by just 3/4 length in a time of 1:46.69. It was a long 9 1/4 lengths back to Love You Crazy in third, while Quiet Action failed to fire and was sixth.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Palace Pier Kabel 26.20 7.40 4.70 2 Catch the Thrill Landry 2.70 2.10 5 Love You Crazy McAleney 3.40 Winning Time: 1:46.69 $2 Exacta 3-2 60.40 $2 Trifecta 3-2-5 295.80
Palace Pier in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Darwin Banach said, “It's fortunate the way it worked out. We discussed going straight to the stake (or) going to the non-winners of two (allowance race). We entered in the non-winners of two, but it didn't fill. We had second plans and they worked out perfectly.”
Palace Pier in the post parade. Winning jockey Todd Kabel said, “I was hoping for an off-the-pace trip today. The more I looked at the race, I said, ‘I'm going to jump her out of there, put her there and try and steal it.' That's exactly what we did today.”
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Catch the Thrill in the post parade. (left) Her jockey Robert Landry said, “She ran a tremendous race. Going into the first turn, I had her exactly where I wanted to have her. The dirt started hitting her and she climbed a little. She got a little further back than I wanted her to. Unfortunately, we came up a little short. You're going to hear a lot from her.”
Right: Third place finisher Love You Crazy in the post parade. (right)
The horses break from the gate for the Kingarvie Stakes.
Legal Move and Gone Trajectory battled it out on the pace around the clubhouse turn and halfway down the backstretch through fractions of 25.13 and 49.76 while 20-1 outsider Near Noise stayed close behind in third. Dancer's Bajan sat back in fifth early, taking a wide trip throughout. Turning for home, 11-1 D Bold Ruler, who had raced in sixth early, rallied strong down the center of the track and looked like he had it won. However, Dancer's Bajan was also closing well under the controls of jockey Corey Fraser, who sent him through the lane between D Bold Ruler and the pacesetter Legal Move and got his nose down on the line first, finishing the trip in 1:48.35. Dancer's Bajan won by a nose in a photo finish over D Bold Ruler, who was 1/2 a length ahead of favorite Legal Move.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Dancer's Bajan Fraser 5.50 3.80 2.40 1 D Bold Ruler Ramsammy 7.90 3.20 2 Legal Move Husbands 2.10 Winning Time: 1:48.35 $2 Exacta 6-1 47.70 $2 Trifecta 6-1-2 84.20
Dancer's Bajan in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Tiller (far right) said, "This horse has a lot of heart and desire. He obviously digs in. He won by a whisker. They tell me they've got to pay you if you win by a nose or by 10 lengths."
Dancer's Bajan returns after the race. Winning jockey Corey Fraser said, "I wasn't as close (early) as I wanted to be today. Halfway through the turn, I got where I wanted to be and he just dug in. We came around the turn and he found gears I didn't know he had. I moved him close to the other horse (D Bold Ruler) so he'd dig in more. He really showed up."
Left: Second place finisher D Bold Ruler in the post parade. (left)
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Legal Move in the post parade. (right)
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