Audre Cappuccitti's Dream Launcher defeated seven rivals in Saturday's $164,850 Durham Cup Stakes (gr. III) at Woodbine.
The 4-year-old son of Bright Launch entered the 1 1/8-mile race with four career wins under his belt. But with only one victory in 2002 he had struggled for much of this season to regain his impressive sophomore form.
In Saturday's featured event, Dream Launcher proved that he's back to the top of his game, soundly defeating some of Woodbine's best older horses.
Ridden by Richard Dos Ramos, for trainer and owner Cappuccitti, Dream Launcher stalked an early pace of :23.65, :47.27, 1:11.30, and 1:38.08 set by Captain Wallstreet. At the three-eighths pole, the gelding rocketed to the lead and quickly drew away from the field, winning by 4 ¾ lengths over Parose and 7-to-5 race favourite A Fleets Dancer.
The final time of the race was 1:52.45 over a main track rated fast.
"He had a surgery and we've been taking it easy with him," said Cappuccitti. "He ran awesome today. He's been coming around and even the races he got beaten in, he was very close."
According to Dos Ramos, who was riding Dream Launcher for the first time, it didn't take long to recognize he was a special horse.
"I worked him one morning and I just fell in love with him," said Dos Ramos. "I got lucky to be on him, and it just worked out for me that I got on this horse at the right time. This is a great stakes win for me."
Dream Launcher returned $14.90, $7.90, $4.50 combining with Parose ($5.30, $3.30) for a $95.00 exacta. A Fleets Dancer ($2.50) completed the $339.90 trifecta.