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Woodbine notes: Rainford savors first stakes win with Professor's Ride
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The filly Professor’s Ride has had only one rider, Michelle Rainford, through her 13-start career.
Last Saturday, Professor’s Ride gave the 33-year-old Rainford her first stakes win when she outdueled Strut the Course to prevail by a neck in the $125,000 La Prevoyante Stakes at one mile on yielding turf.
“Both horses ran really hard,” Rainford said. “I like it when you have two horses trying to win the race. That’s what makes it exciting.”
Rainford started riding in 2004 and had her best year as an apprentice in 2006, when she won 65 races, with her mounts earning more than $2 million. The La Prevoyante, however, marked just her 12th stakes appearance.
“It feels like it’s been a long time coming,” Rainford said of her first stakes win.
Rainford was sidelined for more than two years after suffering a concussion during a spill June 21, 2007, and returned to the track as an exercise rider for trainer Scott Fairlie. The overwhelming majority of Rainford’s rides in recent years have been for her partner, Fairlie, including Professor’s Ride.
“I’m not really looking for anything more, but I’d definitely take something if it came along,” said Rainford, who has won with 13 of her 68 mounts, 19 percent, at the Woodbine meeting. “I like keeping a high percentage and riding horses that have a good chance of winning.”
Professor’s Ride was the first stakes winner of the meeting for Fairlie, who also owns and bred the filly in partnership with a syndicate led by his friend, Dave Succamore.
The La Prevoyante, for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, was the third start on turf for Professor’s Ride, who came into the race off a head defeat in a restricted allowance race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares at a mile on grass.
“I think the turf has obviously helped her improve her game,” Fairlie said. “She kind of went through a growth spurt, too, and put on weight. She’s just been doing well the last few months.”
With no more turf stakes for Ontario-sired sophomore fillies left on the 2013 calendar, Fairlie said Professor’s Ride might make her next start Oct. 12 in the $150,000 Carotene for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on grass.
Professor’s Ride is the third stakes winner for her dam, Cosa Rara, following Cawaja Beach and Who’s Big Daddy. Fairlie has a yearling full sister to Cawaja Beach, sired by Where’s the Ring, and a weanling half-sister by Artie Schiller.
Sky Conqueror gets first winner
Regal Conqueror, the first starter for his sire, Sky Conqueror, was an impressive winner of her debut here Saturday.
Trained by Darwin Banach, Regal Conqueror quickly assumed command under jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva and never looked back en route to a 7 1/2-length victory at odds of 7-2 in an Ontario-sired maiden race at six furlongs.
“We were pretty happy with the way she’d been going,” said Banach, who conditions the homebred Regal Conqueror for Bill Sorokolit. “She had some nice works for us, and we never asked her to do anything. She’s a headstrong filly. It took a bit of time to get her relax. And you never know, with first-time 2-year-olds, what might happen. That’s why Eurico got her out of there fast and out of traffic.”
Sky Conqueror, a Sorokolit homebred, was Canadian champion turf male in 2006 after winning Woodbine’s Grade 2 King Edward at 1 1/8 miles and the Grade 2 Northern Dancer at 1 1/2 miles. The following year, Sky Conqueror became a Grade 1 winner in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and repeated in the Northern Dancer, but he was denied a Sovereign Award repeat by Canadian International winner Cloudy’s Knight.
Sky Conqueror, who made all but one of his 20 career starts on turf, retired to stud with earnings of $1,720,699 and recently moved to Mapleville Farm, where he stands for a fee of $5,000.
For now, however, turf is not in the plans for Regal Conqueror.
“She’ll go long, for sure, but turf is something we haven’t even considered yet,” Banach said. “Hopefully, she’ll make a decent living on Poly[track], and we’ll go from there.”
Alpha Bettor back at Woodbine
Alpha Bettor was back with trainer Danny Vella at Woodbine on Monday after finishing 10th of 11 in Sunday evening’s $250,000 Presque Isle Mile Stakes on the synthetic Tapeta surface.
“He just didn’t handle the track,” said Vella, who watched Alpha Bettor finish 7 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Hogy as the 9-2 second choice under regular rider Justin Stein. “In his races here, he’s on the muscle early. Going into the first turn there, Justin had to ask him, and he couldn’t keep up.”
Alpha Bettor has won the Grade 2 Eclipse and Grade 3 Seagram Cup in his three starts here this season, with both races coming at 1 1/16 miles. His next Polytrack opportunity here would be the Grade 3, $150,000 Durham Cup at 1 1/8 miles Oct. 6.
Hat trick for Chiefswood
Awesome Overture, a homebred trained here by Paul Attard for Chiefswood Stable, also was entered in the Presque Isle Mile, but his connections elected to skip the race. Chiefswood still had an interesting weekend, however, winning three races here Saturday with three different trainers.
Iroquois Falls captured the second race, an Ontario-sired maiden special, for Attard. Take Three, conditioned by Stu Simon, won race 7 in another restricted maiden race and was claimed for $25,000 by Nick De Toro. Niigon’s Glory, coming off a third-place finish in the Prince of Wales Stakes, capped the triple with a victory in race 9, a restricted allowance race for non-winners of three, for trainer Rachel Halden.
◗ Omar Moreno was the riding star here last week, going 6 for 15, including three winners Sunday: Big Bazinga ($64.60) for trainer Katerina Vassilieva, and Grange Hill ($10.60) and Lip Singer ($6.80) for owner and trainer Laurie Silvera. Moreno, 28, won Sovereign Awards as Canada’s outstanding rider in 2009 and 2010 and an Eclipse Award as America’s top apprentice rider in 2010. He’s represented by veteran agent Lorne Spearman.
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