The class of Ami's Holiday showed through as he rallied from between rivals in deep stretch to capture the $460,220 Breeders' Stakes (VIDEO), the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, in his turf debut Aug. 17 at Woodbine.
The only horse to compete in all three legs of the series this year, Ami's Holiday experienced traffic problems in finishing second in the Queen's Plate and third in the Prince of Wales earlier this summer.
Those earlier efforts, though, in addition to his victory in the Grey Stakes (Can-III) last fall, gave Ami's Holiday a definite class advantage. The remainder of the 12 3-year-olds in the 124th renewal of the Breeders', all of whom were eligible for lower-level allowances.
With leading Woodbine jockey Luis Contreras abaord, 2-1 second choice Ami's Holiday defeated the maiden Interpol by three-quarters of a length for trainer Josie Carroll, with Squeeze the King edging Bangkok for the show spot. The final time for the 1 1/2-mile trip over firm going was 2:30.12.
Ami's Holiday won for the first time since taking the Grey over Woodbine's Polytrack last October by half a length. He was winless in four prior races this year and had lost six in a row overall. He improved his career mark to 3-2-2 in nine lifetime starts with earnings of $723,642. The Breeders' victory was worth $275,250.
Ivan Dalos owns the winning son of Harlan's Holiday, bred in Ontario by Dalos' Tall Oaks Farm out of the Victory Gallop mare Victorious Ami.
Ami's Holiday tipped his hand a week earlier about his suitability to grass, with a bullet five-furlong workout in :59 1/5, enough to give Carroll confidence to run after initially thinking about giving him a brief rest. This was the first Breeders' win for Carroll, who has won the Queen's Plate twice.
"I think it speaks a lot for this horse," said Carroll. "We talk a lot about horses not having the constitution that they used to, but this is the culmination of a breeding program by Mr. Dalos interjecting stamina into a race horse. He was a little tired after the Prince of Wales, shipping down (to Fort Erie), shipping home. He just lit it up (in his turf work). He just came to life."
It was quite a weekend for Contreras and Carroll, who also took the Sky Classic Stakes (Can-IIT) a day earlier on the Woodbine turf with Karibu Gardens.
Ami's Holiday raced mid-pack in the early stages of the Breeders' as Big Red Bugsy established a narrow lead over East Side with Interpol prominent on the outside and Squeeze the King saving ground at the hedge. Big Red Bugsy and East Side vied at a decent clip for the distance while swapping the lead, getting the opening half mile in :50.74, six furlongs in 1:16.18, and a mile in 1:41 flat.
Reaching the quarter pole in 2:05.59, Squeeze the King, ridden by Eurico Rosa Da Silva, came off the rail to slip through between horses coming off the final turn to forge a narrow lead in upper stretch. Interpol, still wide for Jesse Campbell, kept the pressure on and Ami's Holiday progressed steadily while slightly off the rail.
Bangkok produced a big move on the extreme outside to threaten as the field advanced to mid-stretch. But Ami's Holiday found room between the leaders as Squeeze the King weakened, hitting the front a sixteenth of a mile out and finishing best of all under urging from Contreras.
"Third time was the good one," said Contreras in reference to Ami's Holiday's earlier troubles. "I'm so happy with this horse. He just does a tremendous job all the time. I got a pretty clean trip. I was sitting behind the speed, I wanted to keep him with the other horses to keep him busy. I know my horse is very brave, he's been in trouble before. He was going great (when we came between the other horses). He just galloped. He had a tremendous kick at the end."
Interpol was 1 1/4 lengths clear of Squeeze King, who held onto the show spot by a nose over Bangkok. Sine Metu was a head back in fifth, followed by Niigon Express, East Side, Keen Gizmo, Milwaukee Flash, Smart Spree, Big Red Bugsy, and favored Unikat.
"(Interpol) was getting tired in the end, but he kept hanging in there," Campbell said of the runner-up. "He ran so hard. You have to be proud of him. The best horse won the race. I'm tickled to run second."
Unikat, the slight choice of the bettors over Ami's Holiday at 2-1, raced mid-pack to the quarter pole before yielding in the stretch.
Under equal weights of 126 pounds, Ami's Holiday paid $6.70, $3.80, and $2.80 while keying a $113.20 exacta with 18-1 shot Interpol, who returned $11.50 and $8.40 in his first start against winners. Squeeze the King, who broke his maiden by two lengths over the Woodbine lawn July 12 for trainer Brian Lynch, paid $6.40 to show.
Ami's Holiday was a $35,000 RNA when consigned by Warrendale Sales at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. He is one of three winners from as many starters for his dam, and her only graded stakes winner to date. Victorious Ami won Woodbine's Princess Elizabeth Stakes as a 2-year-old in 2004 and earned $302,644.