Paladin Bay provided the husband and wife team of Harold and Jessie Ladouceur with a first graded stakes win when she surged along the inside to nip odds-on favorite My Conquestadory in the $189,459 Selene Stakes (Can-III) (VIDEO) May 18 at Woodbine.
With just four sophomore fillies entered in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack test, the race appeared not to hold much intrigue, but the Sligo Bay filly and the imposing 2-5 favorite turned in a thrilling finish. Head-bobbing from before the sixteenth pole, Paladin Bay inched ahead just before the wire to win by a nose over the grade I-winning My Conquestadory.
Ridden by Gerry Olguin, Paladin Bay was timed in 1:43.96 while recording her third stakes win overall. Last year, the Ontario-bred filly won both the Princess Elizabeth and Ontario Lassie for Canadian-breds for the Ladouceurs.
Trainer Harold Ladouceur bought Paladin Bay for $10,139 at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s Canadian-bred September yearling sale at Woodbine in 2012. Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency consigned. His wife, Jessica, is listed as the owner. The bay filly was bred by Ericka Rusnak, a farm manager for Hill 'n' Dale in Newmarket, Ontario, out of the winning Stormin Fever mare Stormin Wife.
Harold Ladouceur earned his first training win of the year from eight starters.
"It's unbelievably exciting," said trainer Ladouceur. "It's so awesome. I don't really know what to say at times like this."
My Conquestadory, two-length winner of the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland as the favorite last October, was making her fist start since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 1.
Eurico Rosa Da Silva sent the favorite to the front from her outside post and she opened up a 1 1/2-length advantage early while establishing a reserved tempo before Cool Faith, angled to the leader's outside, closed the gap to about half a length. Fractions for the opening six furlongs were moderate—:24.27, :49.43, and 1:14.37.
My Conquestadory picked it up rounding the far turn as Cool Faith weakened off the turn. But Paladin Bay, always within striking distance for Olguin while getting a ground-saving trip, ranged up along the inside to challenge in the final furlong. Those two fought it out gamely to the finish.
"She's so sweet," said Olguin of the winner. "She's got a beautiful stride and she just loves to win. I just leave her alone, give her her head. I didn't want to go with that horse (My Conquestadory) for more than an eighth of a mile. I knew she'd be tough to pass. So I kind of wanted to get her right at the end and I got lucky. It worked out."
It was 3 1/2 lengths back to Midnight Bliss, ridden by Luis Contreras, who loomed up on the outside before flattening out in the drive. Cool Faith was last.
Off her big stakes in 2013, Paladin Bay was a finalist for a Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly. She began the year with a runner-up finish to Zensational Bunny in the listed Star Shoot Stakes April 19 going six furlongs on Woodbine's Polytrack. Improving her career line to 4-4-2 in 11 starts, she has banked $534,881.
Olguin has been aboard for all career starts. "She's just a beautiful animal and the owners are beautiful people."
The first two finishers each carried top weight of 124 pounds. Paladin Bay paid $8.90 to win as the 3-1 second choice, combining with My Conquestadory for a $14.90 exacta. There was no place or show wagering.
Paladin Bay is expected to run next in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser June 15, the classic for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies as one of the favorites. Her connections have also kept her eligible for Canada's most famous race, the Queen's Plate July 6.
The last filly to win the Selene and the Oaks was Gold Strike in 2005.