Ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, Like a Gem won a stretch-long duel with I'm in Love to capture the 1 1/4-mile Polytrack test for fillies and mares by a half-length. The final time was a track-record 2:03.51.
Monashee, the pride of Western Canada, had won 11 consecutive races for trainer L. Tracy McCarthy, but she disappointed as the 8-5 choice in her Polytrack debut. After breaking well from her 2 post, Monashee fell into a tracking position mid-pack, then hustled into position in the stretch. She had nothing left for the final furlong and finished eighth of 10.
Daniel Vella trains Like a Gem, an Ontario-bred 4-year-old filly by Tactical Cat—Its a Ruby (by Rubiano), for owner Hillsbrook Farms. The versatile gray was coming off a 1 1/4-length win on the Woodbine turf in the one-mile River Memories Oct. 27.
Like a Gem showed speed to grab a two-length lead after an opening quarter mile of :24.24. She settled into a stalking spot in second, however, as Serenading took over through fractions of :48.91 and 1:14.25. Like a Gem increased the pressure, getting the lead on the final turn while racing well off the rail. I'm In Love, making a strong bid while five wide on the turn under Patrick Husbands, challenged coming into the stretch but could not head the winner as they fought to the wire. Tell It as It Is, ridden by James McAleney, closed for third, another half-length behind.
"Once Serenading went by me on the first turn, that’s when (Like a Gem) settled down,” said Wilson. “She was traveling very comfortably. I knew they were coming. She knew where they were, and she was giving me everything she had.”
Like a Gem's sixth win in 18 starts was worth US$143,195 and increased her earnings to $554,216. Garland E. Williamson bred the winner.
Vella was impressed with the gutsy effort of the filly.
"We had a little trouble with her early in the year, but she’s done a lot for us in a short amount of time," said Vella. “We took on all challengers today.
“We kind of asked her a little bit early. Our intention was not to give the race to anyone but make them come and take it from us. That’s what Emma did, and the filly responded."
She paid $17, $6.60 and $5.30 across the board, and combined with I’m in Love ($5, $3.60) for a $71.30 exacta. Tell It as It Is ($6.80) rounded out the $615.90 trifecta.
I’m in Love, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, held off Tell It as It Is, who had won consecutive 1 1/4-mile races on the Toronto oval’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Arden Belle and Blonde Wisdom were scratched.