Stalker Phil's Dream, overlooked at odds of 9-1, burst to the front near the sixteenth pole and rolled to victory in the $328,826 Nearctic Stakes (Can-IT) (VIDEO) on the turf in his graded-stakes debut Oct. 13 at rainy Woodbine.
A 5-year-old Ontario-bred son of Philanthropist , Phi's Dream is owned by Buttigieg Training Centre and trained by Paul Buttigieg, who also bred him. The dark bay gelding, now 2-for-2 on turf, completed six furlongs in 1:10.83 on a turf course rated good.
Phil's Dream recorded his sixth victory in eight starts this year, all at Woodbine. The winning margin was two lengths.
The Nearctic was the final "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge race of 2013. It guarantees an automatic fees-based starting berth to the winning connections in the $1 million Turf Sprint (gr. IT) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
Phil's Dream is not Breeders' Cup-nominated and will not be making the trip to Santa Anita, according to Woodbine.
With Justin Stein aboard, Phil's Dream rallied from mid-pack to overtake tiring pacesetter Fatal Bullet and Longhunter in the drive. He quickly opened a two-length advantage in deep stretch to win comfortably over Mr. Online, who rallied belatedly to claim the runner-up spot over Longhunter.
Stein said he wasn't worried about the step up in class for the winner.
"He's a really nice horse, super talented," said Stein, who has ridden Phil's Dream in his past nine races, including seven wins. "I did have to sit and wait a little bit, but I had lots of horse to carry me to where I needed to be when it was time to ask him to run."
In a 10-horse field lacking a standout, Excaper was made the slight 3-1 choice over the Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Great Britain-bred Longhunter, a $16,000 claim in April who was sent off at 7-2.
Eight-year-old Fatal Bullet, a former Canadian Horse of the Year, went immediately to the lead as a 43-1 outsider and steadfastly led Longhunter and Bear No Joke through swift quarter-mile splits of :22.80 and :46.47. Phil's Dream, after breaking well, was taken in hand by Stein and raced in fifth or sixth between horses to the quarter pole.
The field was six-abreast coming through the stretch as Fatal Bullet clung to a narrow advantage. Longhunter poked his head in front at the eighth pole, but Phil's Dream, rallying powerfully when switched toward the outside, proved best in the drive to the wire under good handling from Stein.
Delaware invader Mr. Online rallied from eighth from between rivals at the quarter pole for jockey Kendrick Carmouche to get up for second by three-quarters of a length over Longhunter and Alan Garcia. They were followed by Langstaff, Bear Tough Tiger, Riding the River, Bear No Joke, Fatal Bullet, Excaper, and Strong Impact.
Excaper, who had advanced to third at the quarter pole, had nothing left in the stretch.
Phil's Dream has never raced anywhere but Woodbine and was coming off a neck victory in the restricted Overskate Stakes going seven furlongs on Polytrack Sept. 22. His prior turf win was also at seven furlongs in a third-level allowance event for Canadian-breds June 19.
The victory pushed Phil's Dream's career mark to seven wins from 12 starts with two seconds and a third. Out of the Emperor Jones mare Dream A Dream, he has earned $497,111 with the winner's share of $208,656.
The winner carried 117 pounds and paid $20, $7.50, and $4.90 as the seventh choice of the bettors. Mr. Online, second in the Laurel Dash Sept. 21 at Laurel Park for trainer Michael Pino, returned $9.70 and $5.30. The exacta was worth $146.10. Longhunter, winner of the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash Sept. 14, paid $3.80.
Tripski was a stewards' scratch.