Sky High Lady won the 2013 River Memories Stakes.

Sky High Lady won the 2013 River Memories Stakes.

Michael Burns

Oxley, Casse Have Strong Duo in Maple Leaf

John Oxley homebreds Sky High Lady and Dixie Strike will be favored.

A solid two-turn win over Woodbine Race Course's all-weather main track helped make John Oxley's Sky High Lady the slight favorite in the Nov. 2 Maple Leaf Stakes (Can-III)

The 4-year-old daughter by Sky Mesa My Dear Lady, by Mutakddim, may still be the favorite at post time in this 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-olds and up but it won't be by much. The field includes grade I-placed Dixie Strike and 7-year-old racemare Moonlit Beauty, who are also coming into the race off wins at 1 1/16 miles on Woodbine's synthetic main track.

Sky High Lady last won Oct. 19 in the 1 1/16-mile River Memories Stakes, which was originally schedule to be run on the turf track but was moved. Oxley's homebred has been running primarily on the grass this year but did win at the same River Memories distance on Woodbine's main track last year.

Sky High Lady is backed by a powerful teamconditioned by Mark Casse, who leads the Woodbine trainer standings with 72 wins and nearly $4.6 million in earnings; leading owner Oxley, who has 25 wins at the Toronto track; and in the irons will be the meet's current leading jockey Luis Contreras, who has 144 wins to date. Sky High Lady will be one of four fillies and mares in the field carrying 121 pounds.

It could be a 1-2 finish for the Oxley-Casse team since Dixie Strike is another Oxley homebred. The 4-year-old daughter of Dixie UnionNoble Strike, by Smart Strike, will be ridden by Patrick Husbands, who won with her at Woodbine in an optional claiming race Sept. 22. Dixie Strike has been lightly raced this year, having made only two other starts since her season debut July 6. But she has been in the money two of the three times, has a 4-3-1 record out of 11 starts at Woodbine, and has produced the fasted BRIS Speed Rating (96) on all-weather surfaces of any horse in the race. She will be carrying 117 pounds.

Last year Dixie Strike showed her class by finishing third in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) behind champions My Miss Aurelia (2011 champion 2-year-old filly) and Questing (2012 champion 3-year-old filly). She also had run well in the Canadian classics, having finished third in the Queen's Plate and won the Prince of Wales Stakes.
$150,000 Maple Leaf S. (Can-III, Race 9, approximate post 5:21 p.m. EDT), fillies & mares 3YOs & Up, 1 1/4 miles (all-weather)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Reconnect (ON), J M Campbell, 121, A Brnjas
2. Logan's Peak (ON), E Wilson, 121, N Gonzalez
3. Final Escrow (KY), F Boyce, 119, A Delacour
4. Moonlit Beauty (ON), G Boulanger, 121, J P LeBlanc, Jr.
5. Dixie Strike (ON), P Husbands, 117, M E Casse
6. Peche Mobilee (ON), S R Bahen, 117, J R Pottins
7. And Why Not (KY), O Moreno, 117, M R Matz
8. Pure Blue Sky (KY), J Stein, 117, S Di Pasquale
9. Sky High Lady (KY), L Contreras, 121, M E Casse