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The Honourable James K. Bartleman Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (center) watches the Singspiel Stakes with Woodbine CEO David Willmot and his wife.
Queen's Plate day at Woodbine draws the biggest attendance of the year to the Toronto oval, and although the highlight race is on the main Polytrack, the three stakes races on the undercard were conducted over the vast E.P. Taylor Turf Course under hot, hazy, and humid conditions with the temperature around 85 degrees most of the day. Kicking off the stakes action on Sunday afternoon, a field of eight older horses sprinted 6 furlongs in the $200,000 Scotts Highlander Stakes (G3). Stradivinsky was sent off as the 9-10 favorite coming off 2 race winning streak including the Jacques Cartier Stakes, with 5-2 second choice Smart Enough shipping in from Monmouth Park where he won the Wolf Hill Stakes in his last start.
Smart Enough was quickest out of the gate and went to the lead right away through a quarter in 22.12 while being stalked by Stradivinsky along the hedge to his inside. Around the turn, Smart Enough continued to lead through a half in 44.56 as Stradivinsky continued to stalk him as the field entered the homestretch. Smart Enough pulled away to a 1 1/2 length lead with a furlong to go, getting 5f in 56.19, and was all-out to hold off the late charge of 6-1 Hero's Reward by 1/2 a length in a final time of 1:08.53 over firm turf. It was just 3/4 length back to favorite Stradivinsky in third.
Smart Enough in the winner's circle with owner Edith Dixon holding the lead.
40-1 longest shot Crackenthorpe took the lead right away and set a slow pace of 24.48, 49.05, 1:13.22, 1:37.73, and 2:02.24 while as much as 1 1/2 lengths clear of 7-1 Guillaume Tell who stalked him the whole way in second. Royal Challenger raced well off the pace early on. Through the stretch, the real running began, as Crackenthorpe faded from contention and 9-2 Pellegrino, who raced in midpack early, came out three wide on the turn to take over the lead with a furlong remaining. He opened a 1 1/2 length lead at the 1/8 pole and was all out to hold off the late charge of Royal Challenger to prevail by just a neck in 2:27.79. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 5-1 French Beret in third.
Pellegrino in the winner's circle with trainer Roger Attfield on the right. Attfield said, "Last year, I wasn't sure he liked this big track. He seemed to run better on the smaller courses. This year we ran him the one time here. I thought it was a very positive race. The horse is in excellent shape. He's a nice, classy horse. You have to look after him and space his races out a little bit. He's like me, he's getting older. You have to be a little bit easier." Jockey Jono Jones added, "He fought gamely. He's an old horse, he knows what this is about."
Charlie Barley Stakes winner Ice Bear in the winner's circle.
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