Three-year-old champion Shillelagh Slew will take on two-time sprint champion Judiths Wild Rush in Saturday’s $150,000 Vigil Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine.
The seven-furlong event kicks off what trainer Mike DePaulo hopes will be a memorable campaign for Shillelagh Slew. Meanwhile, the Vigil will be the fifth start for Judiths Wild Rush, who kicked off his 6-year-old campaign with a victory (via disqualification) in the one-mile Native Dancer at Laurel Park. Earlier this month, the gray finished second to Stradivinsky in the Jacques Cartier Stakes.
DePaulo, who enjoyed his first $2 million season last year, has had his eye on the Vigil, which has attracted a field of six, since early winter.
“It was the first race we had planned,” said the Toronto native. He said that the 4-year-old edition of the son of Chief Seattle is a sight to behold. “When he was a two-year-old he was sort of a string bean. He filled out a little at three. When you see him in the paddock on Saturday, you’ll say, ‘Wow, this horse has really developed.’ He’s filled out nicely.”
Shillelagh Slew kicked off 2006 with a strong performance at seven furlongs. The Quebec-bred colt closed with an eye-catching rush from 11th to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Soon after the allowance score the David James charge was sidelined with a virus. The April victory proved to be his lone prep for the June 25 Queen’s Plate, in which he finished fifth.
Shillelagh Slew went on to finish second in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. He was awarded first prize when stewards disqualified Stronach Stable’s Malakoff for stretch interference. The Ontario Racing Commission recently denied an appeal of the Prince of Wales ruling.
After a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Stakes, the third jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, Shillelagh Slew blossomed. The colt traveled west to Alberta, where he was a dominant 6 1/2-length winner of the Canadian Derby (Can-III). He returned to Woodbine with an equally-impressive romp in the Ontario Derby (Can-III) on October 1.
After four wins and earnings of $731,680 in six races, DePaulo called it a season.
“We thought we’d give him a break and have a really good year with him at four,” explained DePaulo. “He had a chip taken out of his left ankle. He may have done it in the Prince of Wales. He came back with three shoes and ran down in front.”
Shillelagh Slew wintered at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, where DePaulo has had him in training since Jan. 1. “He had a pile of breezes down there – some dazzling and probably faster than we would have liked.”
Since returning to Woodbine, Shillelagh Slew, who will be ridden by Dino Luciani, has continued to train forwardly, including a half-mile workout by himself in :46 1/5 on April 22, the fastest of 51 moves at the distance.
$150,000 Vigil Stakes (Can-III, Race 6, 3:39 p.m.), 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Are You Serious (ON), 119, Corey Fraser
2. Good and Lucky (FL), 115, David Clark
3. Shillelagh Slew (PQ), 121, Dino Luciani
4. Judiths Wild Rush (KY), 121, Patrick Husbands
5. Bear Character (KY), 115, Justin Stein
6. Just Rushing (ON), 117, Emma-Jayne Wilson