Heavily favored Up With the Birds, driving to the lead in upper stretch, sprinted away from his rivals to register an impressive 2 3/4-length score in the $484,426 Breeders' Stakes, the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown Aug. 18 over the Woodbine turf. (VIDEO)
Ridden by Eurico Rosa Da Silva for trainer Malcolm Pierce, Up With the Birds gave owner/breeder Sam-Son Farms a sixth Breeders' win, a record for the Canadian Triple Crown era that began in 1959. Joseph E. Seagram won the race nine times from 1889-1916. Sam-Son won its first Breeders' since 2002 with Portcullis.
Da Silva and Pierce each notched their first Breeders' wins.
River Seven was second in the field of 10 sophomores, a neck in front of Pyrite Mountain. Final time for the 1 1/2-mile journey on firm going was 2:28.69.
Up With the Birds ran second in the Queen's Plate as the favorite July 7, rallying from far back to be half a length shy of the winner, front-running Midnight Aria. The winning bay colt is by Stormy Atlantic out of the Seeking the Gold mare Song of the Lark.
Sent of as the 3-5 favorite, Up With the Birds was in much closer attendance to the pace this time, racing mid-pack early as 92-1 shot Dragon Puff led the way while recording a half-mile in :51.08 and a 1:41 flat mile. Up With the Birds, given his cue by Da Silva, closed in on the far turn to challenge for the lead while racing three wide leaving the bend. River Seven, always close to the deliberate pace, battled on with Global Express and a couple of others as Up With the Birds forged a slight advantage at the quarter pole.
But Up With the Birds used a flashy turn of foot to put some distance on his rivals near mid-stretch and pulled away in the final furlong for an authoritative win under a hand ride from Da Silva.
River Seven could not go with the winner late under Jesse Campbell, but held off Pyrite Mountain and Gary Boulanger by a neck for second. Global Express was a half-length back in fourth, followed by Who's Mr. Hughes, Highland Bay, Dragon Puff, Scipio, Bookies Nightmare, and Faithful Rose.
"I had a great trip," said Da Silva, who won the Sky Classic Stakes (Can-IIT) earlier on the card with Forte Dei Marmi. "(Up With the Birds) was very aggressive. He was very keen. He wanted to be there (up with the leaders). I think he knew he lost last time, so he said, this time, Eurico, I do the job.
"When he took the lead, it was hard for another horse to catch him because he wants to take off. He's all heart. He's a very good horse."
Up With the Birds did not run in the Prince of Wales, the second leg of the Triple Crown, July 30 at Fort Erie.
"What can I say, I'm very glad to be back," said Pierce, who worked as an assistant for Jim Day and Mark Frostad for Sam-Son Farms before venturing out on his own. He returned as sole head trainer for Sam-Son in 2012.
"We always try to freshen our horses and give them lots of time between races," Pierce said. "There would have been more pressure if he had won the Queen's Plate to try for the Triple Crown. But after getting beat in the Plate, it was an easy decision to wait for this race."
Added Mark Samuel, the CEO of Sam-Son Farms and son of the late founder, Ernie Samuel: "He was a couple steps away from greatness in the Queen's Plate. We thought we had a great horse going into that race, and he ran a great race. He proved his class on a different surface. He's looking like he's very versatile, looks like he can go all sorts of different distances. I'll wait to pass judgment on where he ranks in the annals of Sam-Son Farm until his career is done. But he's looking like a special horse."
It was the third win in five outings this year for Up With the Birds, who scored in the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on the turf in March and the Marine Stakes over Woodbine's Polytrack in May. Last year, he won two of three starts, including the rich Coronation Futurity. Up With the Birds is 2-for-3 on grass as well.
Nick Gonzalez, trainer of runner-up River Seven, was pleased with the effort put forth by his gelding, the only horse to contest all three legs of the Triple Crown, while trying grass for the first time.
"I knew it was going to be a fight," said Gonzalez. "A lot of the horses in the race were proven accomplished turf horses. We were experimenting. But I'm very happy."
Up With the Birds, who earned $290,190 for the victory to push his career bankroll to $847,069, owns a career mark of 5-2-1 in eight starts.
Under equal weights of 126 pounds, he paid $3.10, $2.30 and $2.10, combining with River Seven ($5.20, $3.40) for a $15.30 exacta. Pyrite Mountain, $3.10 to show, was part of a trifecta worth $41.10.