Heros Reward, the 11-10 favorite in the six-furlong event, made it back-to-back graded wins on the Woodbine lawn with his pacesetting victory over The Great Caruso by three-quarters of a length. With Javier Castellano aboard, the winning time was a sharp 1:08.02 on firm going. The Scotts Highlander precedes the Queen's Plate on Wodbine's stakes card June 22.
The Capuano trainee made a successful visit to the Toronto oval last fall, taking the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes (Can-II). Heros Reward also ran second in last year's Scotts Highlander.
“Hopefully we’ll be back for the Nearctic (Oct. 4),” said Capuano. “We had good luck in that race last year."
Castellano steered Heros Reward to the lead at the start and they stayed there with Indian Ashton and Gantu pressing on the outside through quick quarter-mile fractions of :22.52 and :44.56. Heros Reward opened by three lengths after completing five furlongs in :55.76 and held The Great Caruso safe while under a drive in the late stages.
“I’ve been riding the horse a long time. I always feel comfortable with him. Today he was pretty sharp. He wanted to run and I let him go,” said Castellano, who partners Ginger Brew in the Queen’s Plate, later on the card.
Capuano said Heros Reward, a Maryland-bred son of Partner's Hero, can also race from off the pace.
“I prefer him a little bit off the pace so he’s got something to run at. When he’s in front, he kind of fools around – looks around, switches leads back and forth, doesn’t really concentrate. It worked out well,” said Capuano.
The Rob Ry Farm and Jayne Marie Slysz-owned Heros Reward won for the ninth time in 24 lifetime starts while earning $737,600.
The Great Caruso, ridden by Patrick Husbands, finished second by two lengths over Wollemi Pine, with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard.
The field’s 123-pound high-weight, Heros Reward returned $4.30, $2.90, $2.60, combining with The Great Caruso ($9.80, $6.50) for a $58.10 exacta. Wollemi Pine ($4) rounded a trifecta worth $231.90.
Quietly Mine, Awesome Action, Unusual Suspect, Gantu and Santa Strings completed the order. Silver Strip was scratched.