Heros Reward, winner of last year's Nearctic (Can-II), returns to defend his title in the $500,000 event on the Woodbine lawn as part of the stakes program on Pattison Canadian International Day Oct. 4. In addition, eight 2-year-olds are to line up for the $300,000 Summer Stakes (Can-III) at one mile, with a berth in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on the line.
The Nearctic, at six furlongs on the turf, is also a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series race, with the victor gaining a spot in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, the same day the BC Juvenile Turf will be contested. A dozen are entered in the Nearctic.
Heros Reward, a gelded son of Partner’s Hero trained by Dale Capuano, seeks his 11th lifetime score in what will be his 27th start. The 6-year-old Maryland-bred has 19 top three finishes and $847,600 in purse earnings for owners Rob Ry Farm and Jayne Marie Slysz.
In his most recent effort, the Turf Monster Handicap at Philadelphia Park Sept. 1, Heros Reward finished second to Nearctic rival True to Tradition as the even-money favorite. The 5-2 morning-line choice has displayed a liking for the Woodbine turf, winning twice in three starts and finishing second the other time.
His most recent appearance was in the Highlander Stakes (Can-III) June 22, scoring a three-quarters-of-a-length win in the six-furlong turf event.
Last year, Heros Reward prevailed by the same margin in the Nearctic, beating Quietly Mine, who is back for this race again, over a “firm” E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
“He broke pretty sharp,” said jockey Javier Castellano, who will be paired with Heros Reward again. “I had good position all the way. I knew I had plenty of horse at the top of the stretch.”
Just Rushing, 4-1 on the morning line, won the Play the King Stakes (Can-II) Aug. 23 and most recently finished third to Rahy’s Attorney in the Woodbine Mile (Can-I) Sept. 7, losing by three lengths. Emma-Jayne Wilson will ride the 7-year-old Wild Rush gelding, who is trained by Sid Attard.
Off Duty (6-1), third in this year’s Play the King, is coming off a victory in the Marfa Stakes on Turfway Park's Polytrack Sept. 13 for trainer Lynn Whiting.
In the Summer Stakes, Skipadate can prove he belongs in the Breeders’ Cup when he makes his Woodbine turf debut.
“A good performance out of him in the Summer and we’ll take him to the Breeders’ Cup,” said trainer Mark Casse, a two-time Sovereign Award winner in Canada. “That’s the plan.”
Skipadate, who is owned by Casse and Peter Rosneck, broke his maiden on the turf in his first start, a two-turn event at Saratoga Aug. 4. The Skip Away colt followed up the effort with a second-place finish to Bittel Road by a head in the 1 1/16-mile With Anticipation Stakes Aug. 29.
Casse said circumstance led to Skipadate becoming an early star of the turf.
“I wanted to run him a little farther. I ran him on the grass more to run him a route of ground than for the grass,” said Casse. “When he ran so well, I said we’ll try it again.”
Skipadate drew post one in the eight-horse field.
Utterly Cool, trained by Sid Attard for Jim Dandy Stable, has won both of his starts so far by a combined 12 1/2 lengths, both victories coming on the Woodbine lawn. The Smoke Glacken gelding makes his stakes debut.
Sam-Son Farm's Grand Adventure won his debut impressively by more than three lengths going seven furlongs on Woodbine's turf course Aug. 30. The son of Grand Slam faces winners for the first time for trainer Mark Frostad.
Jess Not Jesse, trained by Linda Rice for owner Robert Koones, also was a first-out winner, topping a maiden field at Saratoga going 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in his only start to date Aug. 29.
Vandal winner Win and Reign, second in the Swynford Stakes Sept. 14, tries the turf for the first time for trainer Nicholas Gonzalez.
$300,000 Summer Stakes (Can-III, Race 7, 4:04 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Skipadate (FL), 122, Patrick Husbands
2. Star of David (KY), 122, James McAleney
3. Grand Adventure (KY), 122, Eurico Rosa Da Silva
4. Win and Reign (ON), 122, David Clark
5. Freyga (ON), 119, Justin Stein
6. Jess Not Jesse (KY), 122, Garrett K. Gomez
7. Utterly Cool (ON), 122, Richard A. Dos Ramos
8. Perfect Shower (ON), 122, Robert C. Landry
$500,000 Nearctic Stakes (Can-II, Race 8, 4:35 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Just Rushing (ON), 121, Emma-Jayne Wilson
2. Hellvelyn (GB), 117, Joe Bravo
3. Starticus (KY), 117, Corey Fraser
4. Storm Treasure (KY), 117, James McAleney
5. Rouse the Cat (FL), 117, Christopher VanHassel
6. Quietly Mine (KY), 117, Garrett K. Gomez
7. True to Tradition (KY), 117, Kendrick Carmouche
8. Heros Reward (MD), 119, Javier Castellano
9. Off Duty (FL), 117, Larry Melancon
10. Mulmur (ON), 117, Eurico Rosa Da Silva
11. Santiago Atitlan (GB), 117, John F. Egan
12. The Great Caruso (FL), 117, Patrick Husbands