Marchfield, named Canada's outstanding older horse last year, found the winner's circle for the first time in 2009 when he rallied from last on the final turn to capture the $190,767 Dominion Day Stakes (Can-III) (VIDEO) at Woodbine July 1.
Ridden patiently by Patrick Husbands, Marchfield found a seam between rivals in upper stretch and rallied impressively to defeat the pacesetting Approval Rating by 1 3/4 lengths in the 1 1/4-mile Polytrack test. Approval Rating, who had kicked away from the field in upper stretch, held second by 2 1/4 lengths. The 9-10 favorite Vacation finished third.
Owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk of Ontario, Marchfield is a 5-year-old by A.P. Indy, out of the Red Ransom mare Pico Teneriffe. Mark Casse was the winning trainer.
Marchfield began the year in Southern California, where he was off the board in a pair of grade II events before returning to Woodbine this spring. In his prior start, the bay horse closed sharply in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) but came up a neck short while runner-up to Dominion Day rival Ice Bear. It was a race Marchfield needed after being freshened following his Southern California efforts, Casse said.
"If you look at his races in California, he got beat four or five lengths by a horse (Well Armed) that won (the Dubai World Cup)," he added. "He's a nice horse and a mile and a quarter might be his distance. We may try again south of the border."
Ice Bear took the lead soon after the start of the Dominion Day and went :24.35 for the opening quarter-mile before Approval Rating and Jim McAleney took over, carving splits of :49.22, 1:14.78 and 1:39.15. Approval Rating opened up a three-length advantage mid-stretch as Ice Bear gave way.
Vacation, forwardly positioned by John Velazquez behind the pacesetters, angled four wide in the stretch and had every opportunity before evening out. Instead, it was the surging Marchfield who swept past under light handling to win as much the best. The final time was 2:03.63, just off the track record of 2:03.51 set by Like a Gem in 2007.
Husbands had to overcome early traffic to capture his eighth added-money event of the Woodbine meet.
"He was very relaxed," said Husbands. "He's always a class horse from the start in any race. When he went into the first turn, nobody was going anywhere. Six furlongs out, nobody was going anywhere. Four furlongs out, nobody was going anywhere. I had a choice, go five wide or dash to the rail. When I dashed to the rail, only one horse (Approval Rating) was running and he ran him down."
Marchfield notched his first victory since taking the Autumn Stakes (gr. II) at Woodbine Nov. 9 in the final start of his championship season. Picking up $118,639 for the victory, he improved to 6-7-0 in 20 career starts with earnings of $791,774. Marchfield won the 2007 Breeders' Stakes, the final leg of Canada's Triple Crown.
Sent off as the second choice, the winner carried top weight of 123 pounds and paid $8.30, $3.50 and $2.60. Marchfield keyed a $2 exacta worth $48.90. Approval Rating, who finished third in the Eclipse in his last start, returned $6.20 and $3.40. Phipps Stable's grade III winner Vacation ($2.60), a New York invader for trainer Shug McGaughey, turned in the 16th in-the-money performance of his 20-race career.
Cool Gator finished fourth, followed by Ice Bear, Perfect Bullet, Equitable and Michael's Bad Boy. Tiger Bud scratched.