Moyglare Stud's Steel Light, sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite, made his Woodbine debut a winning one, taking Sunday's $500,000 Nearctic Stakes (Can-II) on Pattison Canadian International Day at Woodbine.
Piloted by Corey Nakatani and trained by Christophe Clement, the 4-year-old gelded son of Stravinsky
was full measure for the victory, keeping a stubborn Sophia's Prince at bay over the "yielding" turf.
After a quarter in :22.98 and a half in :47.01, Steel Light, who had raced off the pace along the rail, angled out between foes late into the final turn, then launched his drive in the stretch.
Steel Light prevailed under a strong hand ride by a neck in a time of 1:12.14 for the "about" six-furlong turf event.
"We got away so good. He was just finding his way perfectly," Nakatani said. "I just angled out and kept him with just a little bit to do and he showed that he was much the best."
By capturing the Nearctic and its $300,000 first-place prize, Steel Light, who carried 117 pounds, notched his third win from six starts in 2005 and fifth from 14 races. He now has $452,111 in earnings.
"I thought he was going to be competitive," said Clement. "I didn't know if he was going to win or not. He trained very well all year long. He's a nice horse, a touch unlucky. He certainly deserved to win today."
Steel Light returned $8.70, $4.60 and $3.90 and paired with Woodbine-based Sophia's Prince ($18, $11.10), trained by John LeBlanc Jr., for a $230.50 exacta. Atticus Kristy, ($10.30) rounded out a healthy $2,967 trifecta.
Vanderlin, the second choice in the wagering at 7-2, finished fourth, followed by Old Dodge, My Lucky Strike, Rockhurst, Langfleur, Super Fuse, Crystal Castle, Frank's Selection and L'Oiseau d/Argent.