Favored Exhi , making his first start at Woodbine, drew off from his four 3-year-old rivals in the $151,447 Marine Stakes (VIDEO) to record his third consecutive stakes win by 4 1/2 lengths May 29.
With Robby Albarado aboard, Wertheimer and Frere's homebred son of Maria's Mon pressed the early pace and stuck his head in front of pacesetter Essence Hit Man in upper stretch. He widened his one-length advantage in the final furlong while ridden out, completing the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack event in 1:43.62.
“He just sprinted home,” offered Albarado. “I think he had enough left in the tank. It feels good to ride a good horse.”
Sam-Son Farms' Hotep, a son of A.P. Indy and a full brother to 2009 Queen's Plate victor Eye of the Leopard , rallied five paths wide through the far turn for jockey Patrick Husbands to nab the place spot by a neck over Essence Hit Man and Chantal Sutherland. Essence Hit Man set fractions of :24.80, :49.14 and 1:12.88 before giving way in the stretch.
Exhi, from the rich Todd Pletcher stable, won the Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland at odds of nearly 20-1 in his prior start April 17 and took the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park before that. He earned $85,563 for his fourth lifetime win in nine starts and has now banked $369,761. Exhi is out of the stakes-winning mare Soldera, by Polish Numbers.
“We knew the other horse (Essence Hit Man) would flash speed and so we wanted to leave quietly,” said Albarado, who was aboard for the Lexington win. “He’s a nice horse and he proved it again today.”
Exhi paid $5.80, $3.40 and $2.30, topping a $19.40 exacta. Hotep, a 3 1/4-length winner of the Wando Stakes May 8 and a top contender for this year's Queen's Plate, returned $3.80 and $2.50. Essence Hit Man was $2.80 to show. Mint Chip and Bear's Hard Ten trailed. Giant's Tomb scratched.