Bill Scott's homebred, a former Sovereign Award winner, resisted a late challenge from Just Rushing to win the seven-furlong test by three-quarters of a length. The Play the King is a leading prep for the Woodbine Mile (Can-I) Sept. 16.
Ridden as usual by Steve Bahen, the gelding -- making his second 2007 start -- immediately took control despite a driving rain, leading the field through a quarter in :24.13 and a half in :47.98.
Bahen braced the chestnut for the cavalry charge down the long stretch, and Le Cinquieme Essai responded, fending off all comers to defeat a hard-charging Just Rushing and jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson. Ontario Jockey Club Stakes winner Awesome Action was another three-quarters of a length back in third.
Leonnatus Anteas, voted Canada's top 2-year-old colt in 2006, was fifth as the 3-2 favorite, marking the first time the son of Stormy Atlantic has finished worse than second in six starts.
Paul Nielsen trains the winner.
"He's as good as he's ever been," said Bahen, of Le Cinquieme Essai, who has finished in the top three in 16 consecutive starts. "He was still running strong at the finish. I knew they'd have to do a lot to catch him today."
Le Cinquieme Essai, a fan favorite, was contesting his third Play the King. In 2005, he lost to Vanderlin by a head. Last year, he bested Becrux, the eventual Woodbine Mile winner, by a half-length.
Throughout his illustrious career, the lifetime winner of 12 races from 29 starts has hooked some top-rated turf horses. He lost two photo-finish decisions to top turf male Sky Conqueror last year and also ran third to Leroidesanimaux in the 2005 Woodbine Mile.
In his first start of this year, he was third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Awesome Action in the seven-furlong Ontario Jockey Club.
Le Cinquieme Essai, who has produced 22 top-three finishes, was named Canada's top 3-year-old for 2002, winning the Prince of Wales Stakes.
He paid $10.30, $4.90 and $3.70, combining with Just Rushing ($9.70, $6.10) for a $71.90 exacta. Awesome Action ($4) rounded out a $477.50 triactor.
Estevan finished fourth, followed by Leonnatus Anteas, Storm Caller, Purim and Idle Rumor.
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