Strut the Course wins the Canadian Stakes.

Strut the Course wins the Canadian Stakes.

Michael Burns

Strut the Course Game in Canadian Victory

Sovereign Award winner earns a spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

John Unger's homebred Strut the Course punched her ticket to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) with a determined effort in the $300,000 Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT) Sept. 13 at Woodbine.

Video: Canadian S. (G2T)

In ninth early with Luis Contreras aboard, last year's Canadian champion older female found space on the inside and outlasted fellow closer Button Down to win by a half-length in the one-turn, 1 1/8-mile Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event.

Longshot Bear's Pride went to the front early and set fractions of :24.91 and :49.37 through a half-mile, but faded in the late stages of the turn. Ticking Katie put a head in front after six furlongs and favored Hoop of Colour took command on the outside at the top of the stretch, but the top pair went past on the inside and dueled to the wire. Hoop of Colour held on for third.

"I really had a nice trip," Contreras said. "She broke good and she settled really nice behind horses. By the head of the stretch, I saw the opening and I went through, and she responded really well for me."

The 5-year-old Strut the Stage mare hit the wire in 1:49.56 over yielding turf for her third graded stakes win.

"She's the gift that keeps on giving," Unger said. "It's like winning the lottery over and over. I've never had a horse that even won anything more than allowance race before this one. It's just a gift from heaven. It's unbelievable."

The winner paid $4.80, $2.50, and $1.65 across the board. Button Down brought $3.85 and $2, and Hoop of Colour delivered $3.10 to show.

Uchenna made mild gains to finish fourth, followed by Llanarmon, Overheard, Personal Diary, Ticking Katie, Copper Kitten, and Bear's Pride.

Bred in Ontario out of the Trajectory mare Bold Course, Strut the Course has a 9-4-2 record from 21 starts and $891,457 in earnings.

"This filly has just been so good from the get-go and John has been so great, letting me put her where we want to run her and give her the time when we need (it)," trainer Barbara Minshall said. "She was coming into the race in awesome shape."