Shut off while making a move for the lead in the stretch, Riding the River dipped to the inside for racing room and emerged with a 9-1 upset win in the $318,180 Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT) July 22 on the Woodbine turf course (VIDEO).
Veteran Todd Kabel guided Riding the River to a crafty neck victory on the heels of their 13-1 upset the 5-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding produced in the one-mile King Edward Stakes (Can-IIT) at Woodbine June 24. The one-time sprinter was considered suspect at the 1 1/8-mile Nijinsky distance.
The race was contested under a heavy downpour or rain and hail, which started shortly before the race.
David Cotey trains Riding the River for Dominion Bloodstock and Linmac Farm. Bred in Kentucky by Juliana Orem, Riding the River is out of the Rubiano mare Glow Ruby.
Cotey was thrilled with the effort of both horse and rider.
"It was a trip of hell," said Cotey. “I warned Todd, 'At some point in time, they're going to shut off and you're going to see a six-inch hole. Point him and hold on,' and that's almost exactly what happened. He just forced his way through it, he's such a game little guy."
Attempting nine furlongs for the first time in his career, Riding the River was timed in 1:48.05 over firm going while defeating the fast-closing Hotep. Pender Harbour finished third.
New York invader Imagining, the 11-10 favorite in the field of six for Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey, gave way in the homestretch and finished fifth.
Kara's Orientation went to the lead and angled to the inside to set the pace over Pender Harbour and Imagining while carving early fractions of :24.25 and :48.25. Imagining, increasing the pressure on the front-runner rounding the final bend, took an early lead into the stretch as Pender Harbour challenged on the outside.
Riding the River, who had stalked the leaders in fourth into the stretch, was blocked once at the quarter pole and again as he tried to split Imagining and Pender Harbour at the furlong mark. He took up briefly before slipping to the inside ahead of the tiring Imagining and got the lead from Pender Harbour and the rallying Hollinger. Riding the River, under steady handling, cleared those rivals and then held off the late charge from Hotep, who finished powerfully on the far outside for Patrick Husbands.
Hotep finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Pender Harbour, with Hollinger fourth. Imagining and Kara's Orientation trailed.
Riding the River, who earned his first stakes victory in the King Edward, improved his career record to 8-1-2 in 18 starts with earnings of $595,899. He collected $177,732 for the Nijinsky win.
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, Riding the River paid $20.90, $7.50, and $4, and topped a $132.20 exacta. Hotep returned $9.70 and $5, while Pender Harbour was $3 to show.