New York shipper Winning Cause, trained by Todd Pletcher, is the 8-5 favorite in a field of six 3-year-olds to contest the $150,000 Ontario Derby (Can-III) Sept. 15 at Woodbine.
The Ontario Derby, at 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack, is one of three graded stakes on the undercard of Sunday's Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) program. It goes as the sixth race with a 3:30 p.m. EDT scheduled post time.
Winning Cause returns to the all-weather surface after two starts in stakes company on the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course this summer. Alto Racing's son of Giant's Causeway won the restricted Sir Cat Stakes in July, then was edged for second with a belated bid as the even-money favorite in the Dance of Life Stakes going one mile Aug. 21.
Winner of the Lexington Stakes (gr. III) on the Polytrack at Keeneland in April, the chestnut colt ran second in a pair of stakes over the Woodbine main track this spring, the Marine and the Victoria Park. He comes into the race with four wins and four placings from 11 career starts, earning $334,706.
John Velazquez takes the call on Winning Cause, who breaks from post 5 under top weight of 121 pounds.
Pyrite Mountain and His Race to Win lead the local contingent against the morning line choice.
Pegged at 5-2, Pyrite Mountain comes off a third in the Aug. 18 Breeders' Stakes on turf, the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. That race followed a well-beaten seventh in the Queen's Plate.
The Silent Name colt, trained by Mark Frostad for the Awesome Again Racing Limited Partnership, has had success over Woodbine's Polytrack. He broke his maiden in the Kingarvie Stakes at 2 and captured the Wando Stakes May 5. Gary Boulanger has the return mount on Pyrite Mountain from the far outside post.
Sam-Son Farms' Ontario homebred His Race to Win bounced back from a distant sixth-place finish in the July 7 Queen's Plate to win an allowance tilt at 1 1/16 miles by two lengths one month ago for trainer Malcolm Pierce. Listed at 3-1 for the Ontario Derby, the Stormy Atlantic colt broke his maiden in May followed by a runner-up finish by a nose at 12-1 odds in the Plate Trial. Eurico Rosa Da Silva rides once again from post 3.
John Oxley's Sky Commander (6-1) had a three-race winning streak interrupted July 27 when fifth of seven as the lukewarm choice in the listed Toronto Cup on turf. Mark Casse trains the Sky Mesa gelding, who won back-to-back races on the Polytrack this spring followed by a victory via disqualification in the Charlie Barley Stakes on turf prior to the Toronto Cup.
Rounding out the field are a pair of shippers, Barry Golden's Coastal Breeze (12-1) and Tucci Stables' B E Boston Strong (8-1).
Coastal Breeze, a son of Empire Maker, comes in from Illinois for trainer Wayne Catalano following a runner-up effort on grass in the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park Aug. 3. Recent purchase B E Boston Strong, an Ontario-bred gelding by Perfect Soul , enters from Suffolk Downs for new trainer Nick Gonzalez following a 10 1/4-length maiden romp Aug. 12.
$150,000 Ontario Derby (Can-III, Race 6, 3:30 p.m), 3YOs, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. B E Boston Strong (ON), J M Campbell, 117, N Gonzalez, 8/1
2. Sky Commander (KY), J Stein, 119, M E Casse, 6/1
3. His Race to Win (ON), E R Da Silva, 117, M Pierce, 3/1
4. Coastal Breeze (KY), J Rocco Jr., 117, W M Catalano, 12/1
5. Winning Cause (KY), J R Velazquez, 121, T A Pletcher, 8/5
6. Pyrite Mountain (ON), G Boulanger, 119, M R Frostad, 5/2