06/25/2006 11:00PM

Edenwold's connections kept the faith


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There was a widespread perception that Edenwold was an unlikely candidate to stay 1 1/4 miles heading into the $1 million Queen's Plate here at Woodbine.

Edenwold, who had been named Canada's 2-year-old male champion on the strength of three stakes sprint victories here last summer, came up short in two tries around two turns last fall and in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 4.

But owners Jim and Alice Sapara, trainer Josie Carroll, and jockey Emile Ramsammy never lost faith in Edenwold's ability to get the trip and were rewarded Sunday when the colt came through with flying colors in the Queen's Plate at 16-1.

"We'd heard a lot of that," said Jim Sapara, referring to the views of Edenwold's distance detractors. "But the big thing is nobody realized how far this horse had had to come back, and so quick."

Edenwold had exited his final race last season, the Nov. 26 Display Stakes, with a calcium build-up behind one of his knees. The condition was causing Edenwold to suffer from muscle and tendon pain, and the colt had to undergo minor surgery in Kentucky.

The Saparas then shipped Edenwold to Carroll at Santa Anita, where she was maintaining a string for the first time over the winter.

"We were very pressed for time," agreed Carroll. "He didn't get back to the track until February, and he missed three whole months. Everything had to click right into place."

Edenwold made his first start in more than five months here in the seven-furlong Queenston on May 6, where he finished a closing second, beaten a neck with Ramsammy riding for the first time.

In the Plate Trial, Edenwold was prominent throughout but was outfinished by Pipers Thunder and Ascot Bill.

"After he tried to fight back there, on the dead rail, I knew he'd get the Plate distance," said Carroll.

The Saparas had echoed their trainer's sentiments.

"He needed that race," said Jim Sapara. "He dug in well, and he kept coming back.

"Josie said he had never been in better shape, coming into the Plate. I thought that if he ran his race, he'd be there."

And, perhaps most important, Ramsammy was quietly confident that Edenwold would stay the Queen's Plate journey.

"I never really had any doubts about him going a mile and a quarter," said Ramsammy. "He'd stepped up every race and impressed me.

"And, as I said to Josie and Mr. and Mrs. Sapara, he really only has to get a mile and a quarter once."

Ramsammy lucky to get mount

Ramsammy, who had won the 1996 Queen's Plate aboard Victor Cooley when the purse was $425,000, was on the outside looking in at the Plate scene when the current Woodbine meeting began.

"I was hoping something would pop up," said Ramsammy, 43, who won back-to-back Sovereign Awards as Canada's outstanding jockey in 1996-97. "I didn't have anything major."

Ramsammy's break came when Carroll entered both Edenwold and Vibank, who also is owned by the Saparas, in the Queenston.

David Clark had been the regular rider of both colts and was named on Vibank, who was coming into the Queenston off a second-place finish here in the six-furlong Woodstock.

"We thought both horses were going to the Plate," said Carroll. "David suited Vibank so well, so we were going to retain him on Vibank, and we rode Emile on Edenwold."

Vibank, unfortunately, finished last of seven in the Queenston, his second subpar performance in three starts on the season, and a nuclear scan revealed potential ankle problems.

So Vibank went to the farm, and is not scheduled to return to the track until mid-July.

"I know it might sound funny, after you've just won the Queen's Plate, but I think Vibank is as good as [Edenwold] is," said Sapara. "I think he'll be heard from."

All remaining well, Edenwold will be heard from even sooner in Fort Erie's $500,000 Prince of Wales, the 1 3/16-mile race that is the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown on July 16.

High water mark for Sapara-Carroll team

Edenwold represented by far the most lucrative stakes winner for the Sapara-Carroll team. Their previous high came with Brushed Halory in the Grade 3, $250,000 Delaware Oaks in 1999.

Jim Sapara, based in Alberta, is the founder of the Alberta-based Winalta Inc., which manufactures modular homes and building products.

The Saparas also own a farm in Kentucky and currently have eight horses here at the track with Carroll.

The Queen's Plate was the third stakes victory of the season for Carroll but her first this year for the Saparas.

Carroll, 48, won eight stakes at the 2005 Woodbine meeting with six of those coming for the Saparas.

Edenwold contributed three of those victories, Vibank two, and Estevan one.