Executive Choice, under a smart ride from Jim McAleney, defeated nine rivals in Woodbine's $125,000 Sir Barton Stakes Dec. 8.
The 6-year-old bay son of Birdonthewire, who finished second in last year’s Sir Barton, reeled in longshot My Imperial Dancer and fended off another outsider, Archers Alyancer, to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Multiple stakes winner Dancer’s Bajan closed to finish third, another 2 1/2 lengths behind.
Arch Hall, who had won the past three previous runnings of the Sir Barton, finished sixth as the 13-10 favorite.
The running time for 1 1/16 miles was a sharp 1:42.85, just two-fifths of a second off the track record.
For Executive Choice, a Reade Baker trainee, the victory was his second score of the season and first since a 7 1/2-length romp in the Steady Growth Stakes on June 9.
The gelding, owned by Jim Aston, Augi Onesi and Bull Market Stable, tracked Halton Stakes winner My Imperial Dancer through fractions of :24.55, :48.10 and 1:11.73 before McAleney made his move just around the final turn.
Executive Choice then held a stubborn Archers Alyancer at bay.
“He did (relax),” said McAleney. “We were right there near the lead, but he was comfortable there. He was very, very happy. It was like playing with a loaded gun. Aim and shoot.”
The veteran rider, who broke his femur in a morning training accident just days before the start of the 2007 Woodbine season, is pleased with how his abbreviated campaign has panned out.
“I’ve been very happy with the way things have gone. It’s never redundant. It’s a credit to the people we’re associated with, their loyalties and their friendships.”
Baker was thrilled with the effort of Executive Choice.
“I knew down the backside,” said Baker. “The favorites were way out of it. They had no chance of catching (up). You try to take a hold of him, he fools around with his head and does some silly things. I thought I could get him over it. I couldn’t. Let him be what he is.”
Executive Choice, bred by Adena Springs, now has eight wins from 29 career starts.
He returned $12.90, $5.30, $3.60 and combined with Archers Alyancer ($18.50, $15.60) for a $328.10 exacta. Dancer’s Bajan ($5.10) completed a $1,854.50 trifecta.
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