His Race to Win fired through an opening between horses near mid-stretch and edged clear of 11-10 choice Winning Cause to post his first stakes victory in the $166,038 Ontario Derby (Can-III) Sept. 15 at Woodbine (VIDEO).
Ridden patiently by Eurico Rosa Da Silva behind a ponderous pace, the winning son of Stormy Atlantic was timed in 1:50.71 for 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack while posting a 2 1/4-length victory. Sent off at odds of 2-1, Sam-Son Farms' 3-year-old Ontario homebred has now won back-to-back races for trainer Malcolm Pierce after securing just one victory in his first nine starts.
Always highly regarded by his connections, His Race to Win ran third in the Coronation Futurity as a maiden last year. After graduating in May, the bay colt finished just a nose behind Dynamic Sky in the Plate Trial, but was no factor while sixth in the Queen's Plate July 7. He bounced back from that effort with a two-length victory in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles Aug. 10.
A field of six contested the Ontario Derby with Alto Racing's Lexington Stakes (gr. III) winner Winning Cause, shipping in from New York for trainer Todd Pletcher, made the heavy favorite with John Velazquez aboard. B E Boston Strong, breaking from the rail, was able to dictate a slow tempo under Jesse Campbell as the remainder of the field lined up compactly behind fractions of :25.31, :50.59, and 1:14.71.
Winning Cause, racing at the rear of the pack with His Race to Win and Pyrite Mountain, was the first to move four wide on the outside leaving the far turn, challenging B E Boston Strong and Sky Commander. His Race to Win, moving easily, advanced into contention two paths off the rail in the stretch. When a narrow gap between Sky Commander and the tiring B E Boston Strong opened, Da Rosa took advantage, guiding His Race to Win through.
As Winning Cause and Pyrite Mountain, ridden by Gary Boulanger, battled on the outside, His Race to Win surged clear and held on well for a solid victory. Winning Cause nipped Pyrite Mountain by a head for second, with Sky Commander well back in fourth. B E Boston Strong and Coastal Breeze trailed.
Da Rosa, enjoying a tremendous season at Woodbine, admitted to being worried about the traffic trouble as the field turned for home.
"It worked out perfect but I was really worried," he said. "I had so much horse in the turn and had nowhere to go, but I'm glad they opened a hole there for me. My horse was there just waiting for that moment."
His Race to Win is the first stakes winner out of the multiple stakes-placed mare Fleet of Foot, by Gone West. He improved his record to 3-3-2 in 11 starts while banking $293,224.
Carrying 117 pounds, he paid $6.30, $2.90, and $2.20 and keyed a $15.40 exacta. Winning Cause returned $2.70 and $2.10 while packing top weight of 121 pounds. Pyrite Mountain, also third in the Breeders' Stakes on turf last time out for trainer Mark Frostad, paid $2.60.