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Havelock makes connections' first trip to Woodbine a winning one
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Owners Tom and Bonnie Hamilton, trainer Darrin Miller, and jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan all visited Woodbine for the first time last Sunday. And all concerned left the better for the experience after Havelock captured the Grade 2, $204,400 Play the King over seven furlongs of turf.
Havelock, a homebred Maryland-bred 4-year-old, races for the Hamiltons under their Silverton Hill colors.
The colt became a stakes winner in his previous start, which came in the 5 1/2-furlong Arlington Sprint on the turf, and the Hamiltons and Miller huddled to plan their next course of action.
One option was the Troy, a $75,000 listed stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs of turf at Saratoga on Aug. 17.
“We were considering it, but we wanted to try him a little longer,” said Tom Hamilton, who has some 15 horses with Miller at Churchill Downs and others at their farm in Springfield, Ky. “He rates well.”
That thought led to the Play the King, which Havelock won by a head in a driving finish and stamped himself as a horse to follow down the road.
“It’s like he’s getting it all figured out now,” Miller said.
One factor that did not play into the decision to send Havelock here was the Play the King’s positioning as a prep for the Sept. 18 Woodbine Mile, which offers Grade 1 status and a purse of $1 million.
“We didn’t consider the Woodbine Mile before we came up here,” Miller said. “Now, we certainly can’t toss it out.”
While Havelock is returning to Churchill Downs, the Hamiltons have their 4-year-old filly Kilmore Quay here with trainer Rachel Halden.
Kilmore Quay, who arrived last month, made her local debut in the race following the Play the King and finished a good second when competing under second-level allowance terms in a 1 1/4-mile turf race.
Riding the River eyes Woodbine Mile
Riding the River, a 4-year-old gelding who is based here with trainer Dave Cotey, ran the race of his life in the Play the King, but had to settle for second money, a nose before third-place Fatal Bullet.
“He was by far the strongest on end, and he got bumped and held up and everything,” said Cotey, who also owns Riding the River in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith. “He looked like he was going to be fourth or fifth, then he turned it on. He’s got that spurt to him.”
In the wake of the Play the King, the Woodbine Mile is now on Riding the River’s sonar.
“I always thought a mile would be the best distance for him,” Cotey said. “I thought his best race last year was at a mile and a sixteenth against older horses.
Fatal Bullet, Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2009, was recording his second consecutive third-place finish in the Play the King after being beaten by a pair of necks last year.
“He’s a wonderful old guy,” said Reade Baker, who trains the 6-year-old Fatal Bullet for the Bear Stable of Danny Dion.
“He’s as game and tough as they come, and it’s nice to see him back on his game. We’ll think about the Woodbine Mile.”
Gypsy Ring, an Ontario-sired 5-year-old who races for his breeder, trainer, and owner Paul Buttigieg, wound up just a neck behind Fatal Bullet in the frantic Play the King finish.
“He ran big,” Buttigieg said. “I thought he could have won the race with better racing luck.
“I’m going to nominate him for the Mile, but I’m not sure I’m going. I also have the Overskate for him.”
The $125,000 Overskate, a seven-furlong Polytrack race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up, will be run here Sept. 28.
Anne’s Beauty surprises owner
Anne’s Beauty added another feather to her cap here Saturday with an impressive two-length score in the Grade 3, $150,000 Ontario Colleen under Patrick Husbands, who was recording his fifth consecutive winner on the program.
The Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly, who is owned by Rob Smithen and trained by Paul Attard, had previously captured last fall’s Glorious Song and the recent Duchess over seven furlongs of Polytrack. The one-mile Ontario Colleen was her first turf score and first in a graded stakes.
“She’s surprised me every step of the way,” Smithen said.
“She has a beautiful long stride. You’d think she was a turf horse, but after the two races she ran on turf I wasn’t sure.
“I thought she’d run well, but I wasn’t sure if she’d win.”
Attard, while also admitting to some concern, had seen positives in Anne’s Beauty’s previous turf efforts.
“The first time she had the one hole, in her first start, she found herself on the lead and just got a little tired,” Attard said.
“The last time, she had the No. 1 post again, got buried on the rail, and wasn’t beaten much by older fillies. Now, she’s proved she’s a turf horse.”
Smithen purchased Anne’s Beauty for $30,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale and credits bloodstock agent Kenny Lejeune for prompting the acquisition.
“We’ll give her a couple more starts this year, then bring her back next year,” Smithen said.
The Grade 3, $250,00 Selene, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race here Sept. 25, should be the next stop in Anne’s Beauty’s campaign.
The $250,000 Raven Run, over seven furlongs of Keeneland’s Polytrack on Oct. 22, could be a suitable season’s finale.
“That’s four week’s after the Selene; that would work out well,” Attard said. “I’m not afraid of trying her at Keeneland.”
The Ontario Colleen was the third stakes win of the meeting for Attard, who had won the previous Saturday’s Bison City with Niigon’s Touch for Chiefswood Stable.
The Ontario Colleen also was the third in a stakes this year for Smithen, who has the Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly Bay to Bay with trainer Brian Lynch and watched her take the Grade 2 Nassau over one mile of turf here June 4.
Smithen’s only other horses here are Clear Lake, who is trained by Attard, and Hampstead Heath, who is trained by Lynch.
Clear Lake breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 here Monday morning in preparation for next Monday’s $125,00 Algoma, the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on the yearling sales stakes program.
Hampstead Heath has been nominated to the 6 1/2-furlong Simcoe – the yearling sales stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings that is worth $200,000 – but is scheduled to make his first career start the following week.