Heathcote wins the Valedictory Stakes.

Heathcote wins the Valedictory Stakes.

Michael Burns

Heathcote Shows Heels in Valedictory Romp

Chiefswood Stable homebred wins Woodbine's closing day marathon event by 12 lengths.

Heathcote led at every call of the marathon Valedictory (Can-III) (VIDEO) on closing day for 2012 at Woodbine Dec. 16, romping to a 12 1/4-length victory in his stakes debut.

Chiefswood Stable's late-developing Ontario homebred son of recently deceased 2004 Queen's Plate winner Niigon was timed in 2:59.42 for the mile and three-quarters on Polytrack in the $180,240 event. He picked up his fourth win from seven lifetime starts for trainer Paul Attard.

Ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, who has been aboard the 4-year-old gelding in all of his previous races, Heathcote shook loose of his tenacious pace rival Quaesitor when asked on the last of three turns. He widened his advantage with every stride in the stretch to post a 6-1 upset in the field of nine.

Peyton rallied under 2012 Woodbine riding champion Luis Contreras to gain the place spot by 1 3/4 lengths over Quaesitor and Justin Stein.

Juddmonte Farms' filly Imperial Pippin, the 2-1 favorite shipped in from New York by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, stalked the leaders before giving way and finishing eighth in the nine-horse field.

Heathcote, ending a three-race losing streak, clicked off a half-mile in :50.94, a mile in 1:42.19, and 10 furlongs in 2:09.15.

The winner was coming off a runner-up finish in a first-level open allowance race at 1 1/4 miles Nov. 3. The dark bay, who is out of the Touch Gold mare Prairie Flame, did not race at 2 or 3 and began his career in May with the first of three consecutive wins over Canadian-breds this spring.

Heathcote extended his career earnings to $236,982 with the winner's share of $109,544. All of Heathcote's races have come over Woodbine's synthetic main track.

Carrying 115 pounds, the winner paid $14, $5.80, and $4.50 while toping a $66.10 exacta with second choice Peyton, who returned $4.20 and $3.60. The show price on Quaesitor was $4.

Wilson was confident the lanky Heathcote was up to the task in his first try at the distance.

"He is a big horse with a big, long stride," said Wilson. "We knew the mile and three-quarters wasn't going to hurt him at all, and when I got him just cruising along with his ears up the whole way, I thought it would take a racehorse to beat him."

In fact, the veteran jock believes Heathcote could have traveled even further.

"He just started getting going at the three-eighths pole," grinned Wilson. "No matter how good they are, and how much they handle that distance, they do seem to get a little tired. But, he would have went around again."