Last Answer Uses Theft Tactics in Nijinsky Stakes

Last Answer Uses Theft Tactics in Nijinsky Stakes
Photo: WEG/Michael Burns
Last Answer has last word in Nijinsky.
Last Answer, under an astute front-running ride from Emile Ramsammy, upset 2006 Sovereign Award champion Sky Conqueror and the rest of the field in the CAN $300,000 Nijinsky Stakes (Can-II) on a yielding grass course Aug. 26 at Woodbine.

Last Answer went to the front for Ramsammy shortly after the start of the 1 1/2-mile event and raced uncontested on the lead while setting soft fractions. He eventually built his advantage to 10 lengths with a half-mile to run. But Cloudy's Night and 2006 Canadian turf champion Sky Conqueror closed in strongly from there to challenge. Last Answer was all out to get the job done in the final stages but held on to win by three-quarters of a length at odds of 10-1.

Cloudy's Knight, with Ramsey Zimmerman aboard, took second by a head over 2-5 choice Sky Conqueror and Edgar Prado.

The winning 7-year-old Langfuhr  gelding is trained by Mike Keogh for owner Gus Schickedanz.

On the yielding footing, Last Answer was able to milk a lonely lead through fractions of :25 1/5, :50 3/5, 1:15 and 1:40 3/5. The bay hung tough on the inside to prevail when put to the test, however. The final time was 2:31.25.

Last Answer has had several near misses in recent times, but finally came out on top in his most significant career victory.

"The horse ran well," said Ramsammy. "He's been campaigning hard for the last couple of years. It's nice to see him finally finish on top in one of these races. He runs the way he likes. He's happy in front when he's by himself. After riding him 'put together,' I decided to ride him much more freely today. He was enjoying himself."

For Keogh, it was a sweet victory, considering there had been talk of retiring the Ontario-bred if he raced poorly in the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf (Can-II) at Woodbine on July 22. But a fourth-place finish to Sky Conqueror led him to the Nijinsky.

"It's great for him," said Keogh. "If ever a horse a deserved to win a stakes race, it's him. He's tried his eyeballs out last year and just keeps getting beat right on the wire."

Last Answer is aimed toward the 1 3/8-mile Sky Classic Stakes (Can-II) on Sept. 23 and a possible date in the $2 million Pattison Canadian International Stakes (Can-I) Oct. 21.

Sky Conqueror, who has enjoyed success both in Canada and the United States, is also leaning towards the Sky Classic and Pattison Canadian International, according to trainer Darwin Banach.

Last Answer returned $23.20, $9.70 and $4, combining with Cloudy's Knight ($6.50, $3) for a $108.70 exacta. Sky Conqueror ($2.10) completed a $214.70 trifecta. Fourth-place finisher Windward Islands completed a $1 superfecta worth $1,122.55.

Royal Challenger, Pellegrino and The Carbon Unit trailed.

(Chart, Equibase)

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