Sam-Son Farms will be represented by two homebred sons of Stormy Atlantic , Up With the Birds and His Race to Win, in the $250,000 Coronation Futurity Stakes Nov. 10 at Woodbine.
A key race on the calendar for Canadian-foaled 2-year-olds, the 1 1/8-mile main track event has drawn six starters. They include Up With the Birds, who comes into the race off a strong maiden-breaking performance Sept. 29, and His Race to Win, a maiden that was fourth in the Cup & Saucer Stakes on yielding turf Oct. 20.
Both are trained by Malcolm Pierce and will be facing a strong favorite in Star Contender, who won the the Cup & Saucer by 3 1/4 lengths. The son of Henny Hughes , trained by Mark Casse for owner John C. Oxley, has won two of three starts and broke his maiden over Woodbine's Polytrack Sept. 23.
The Coronation goes as the sixth on the Woodbine card with a 3:29 p.m. EST post. The race shares top billing with the Autumn Stakes (Can-II), which is two races later on the program.
After finishing third, two lengths back of Mercenary in his career bow Aug. 26, Up With the Birds stretched out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles next time out. The end result Sept. 29 was a 3 1/2-length score under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, an effort that had Pierce beaming.
"He's definitely a nice colt," Pierce said. "Now we'll just have to see if he can take that next step forward and win this one. He's certainly improving in every aspect and he's coming into the race just how we'd want him to be."
His Race to Win, who has finished second, third and fourth from three starts, broke inward at the start of the 1 1/16-mile Cup & Saucer.
"Eurico said he didn't enjoy the ground that day," offered Pierce. "I was a little disappointed because I felt we could have at least been second in that race. Still, I'm happy with the way he's developing and it's nice to be in the position to have two good-looking, talented colts in your barn."
His Race to Win ran second to Star Contender prior to the Cup & Saucer, beaten by three-quarters of a length in the off-the-turf maiden event at one mile and 70 yards.
Although Pierce, who has 55 career stakes wins, has never won the Coronation Futurity, Sam-Son has taken five editions of the race, most recently with Dixieland Diamond in 1999.
"It would be nice to get one," Pierce said. "At this point, I'd say Up With the Birds is a step ahead, but that said, it's early in both their careers. They are both continuing to learn and even though it's early to think about, we'll hope they are at their best when the Queen's Plate comes around next year. The only thing about this race is that it hasn't been to kind to the winners when it comes to Plate success."
The last horse to win the Coronation Futurity and then the Plate was Norcliffe, who achieved the feat in 1975-76. He also holds the stakes record time, since the race was contested at 1 1/8 miles, of 1:49.20.
The others in this year's field are Hesa Big Dude, a first-out maiden winner Oct. 16 at Fort Erie, and maidens Bookies Nightmare and Kitten Candy. Hesa Big Dude, trained by Justin Nixon, races without Lasix.
Inaugurated in 1902 at Toronto's Old Woodbine Racetrack, the Coronation Futurity has been won by some notable names, including Northern Dancer in 1963, who would go on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I), as well as the Queen's Plate. Sunny's Halo won the 1982 edition and then took the Kentucky Derby the following year.
$250,000 Coronation Futurity (Race 6, 3:29 p.m.), 2YOs, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. His Race to Win (ON), A O Solis, M Pierce
2. Hesa Big Dude (ON), M Pinto, J J Nixon
3. Bookies Nightmare (ON), D Moran, C M Costigan
4. Kitten Candy (ON), L Contreras, R P Tiller
5. Star Contender (ON), P Husbands, M E Casse
6. Up With the Birds (ON), E R Da Silva, M Pierce
All Carry 122 pounds.
Bookies Nightmare races with a cheek piece.