Juddmonte Farm's Redwood, making his North American debut, exploited an open rail to sweep past stubborn pacesetter Fifty Proof and win the $748,144 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Can-IT) by a half-length on the Woodbine turf course Sept. 19 (VIDEO).
Jockey Michael Hills guided the 4-year-old homebred son of High Chaparral to victory as the 9-5 favorite for trainer Barry Hills in 2:28.97 for 12 furlongs on a course upgraded to firm before the race.
A group III winner in Great Britian, Redwood was coming off a runner-up finish in the Grand Prix de Deauville (Fr-II) Aug. 29.
Fifty Proof, who proved difficult to collar at odds of 29-1 in his stakes debut, was a clear second over another outsider, 19-1 Windward Islands.
Fifty Proof, on the outside with Justin Stein aboard, took the early lead over second choice Marsh Side, last year's Northern Dancer victor, and maintained about a one-length edge over his pace rival, who angled over to the outside for Edgar Prado to prompt the leader. The opening half-mile went in :51.20, three quarters in 1:16.25, and a mile in 1:41.12. In spite of his partiality for the Woodbine lawn, Marsh Side began to labor on the final turn as Windward Islands, Redwood, and Spice Route took up the chase.
Redwood, seventh early after a slow start, saved ground most of the journey mid-pack but was in need of room after advancing into contention on the far turn for Hills. They found plenty when Fifty Proof angled off the rail in upper stretch. Redwood rallied strongly to draw even at mid-stretch and took over from the pacesetter as they reached the sixteenth pole. Redwood held off Fifty Proof, who gave way grudgingly.
Michael Hills said he wanted to track along the inside if at all possible.
"They told me it was a fresh patch (along the rail). I was under no fixed plan but when I got to the rail it was golden...good, beautiful ground to be honest."
It was 1 1/4 lengths to third-place finisher Windward Islands, ridden by Chantal Sutherland.
Spice Route ran fourth, followed by Memorial Maniac, Guipago, Perfect Shower, Marsh Side, and Expansion.
Winner of the Glorious Stakes (Eng-III) at Goodwood July 30, Redwood improved his career mark to 4-3-0 in 10 starts. The victory, worth $436,320, boosted his career earnings to $661,509.
Juddmonte spokesman Garrett O'Rourke said Redwood may return to Woodbine for the $2 million Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) at the same 12-furlong distance Oct. 16.
"There's plenty of options with this horse," he said.
The winning bay colt is out of the Woodman mare Arum Lilly.
Racing without Lasix, Redwood carried 119 pounds and paid $5.80, $4.10, and $2.90. Locally based Fifty Proof, who defeated first-level allowance rivals in his last start for trainer Ian Black, returned $15.80 and $8 and completed a $123.30 exacta. Windward Islands, second to Marsh Side in the Sky Classic last time for trainer Mark Frostad, was $6.40 to show and rounded out a $1,011.60 trifecta. The $1 superfecta, with 7-2 Spice Route fourth, was worth $2,281.00.