Fillies accounted for two-thirds of the 2012 Canadian Triple Crown when the late-running Irish Mission outfought Aldous Snow to capture the $506,739 Breeders' Stakes by a half-length on the Woodbine turf Aug. 5 (VIDEO).
Irish Mission's victory in the 12-furlong Breeders' followed a win by a second filly, Dixie Strike, in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie July 15. Irish Mission, who was the 17-10 favorite in the Prince of Wales, finished sixth in her first try on dirt.
Dixie Strike, the 5-2 choice in the 14-horse Breeders' Stakes, led briefly in the stretch but faded to sixth. The Breeders' is the final jewel of the three-race series for Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds.
Irish Mission, who broke her maiden on the grass going 1 3/16 miles at Keeneland in April, has had a busy Canadian season. She won the Woodbine Oaks - Presented by Budweiser June 3 before finishing second in the Queen's Plate June 24. That was followed by the disappointing Prince of Wales effort.
"I don't think you've seen the best of this filly," said winning trainer Mark Frostad. "I think as a four and five-year-old, she could be any kind of horse."
Ridden by Alex Solis, 9-2 shot Irish Mission was racing 12th while saving ground early in the huge field with Aldous Snow right behind her. Irish Mission launched her bid five-wide on the final turn. She opened a short lead at mid-stretch, then hooked up with Aldous Snow to prevail in a strong drive to the wire under Solis.
Frostad said Irish Mission didn't like the dirt surface at Fort Erie, but thought the Breeders' turf course was her type of track.
"She didn't handle that surface at all, but she came back and was training well enough that she deserved at shot at the third gem of the Triple Crown," Frostad said. "We knew this was her trip and that she would have no problem with the mile and a half."
Frostad trains the winning daughter of Giant's Causeway out of the Miswaki mare Misty Mission for owner Robert S. Evans. Frostad won his fourth Breeders' and his first since 2002 with Portcullis, which was owned by Irish Mission's breeder, Sam-Son Farm. Frostad's other Breeders' wins came in 1995 with Charlie's Dewan and in '96 with Sam-Son's Chief Bearhart.
Sam-Son Farm sold Irish Mission for $375,000 at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale.
Colleen's Sailor and Lateegra, breaking from the 13th and 14th posts, respectively, took the lead shortly after the start, Colleen's Sailor setting a tepid pace ahead of a close pack. He covered the first half-mile in :50.11 and hit the mile marker in 1:40.07 with a head in front of Lateegra.
Stalking Sammy Maudlin battled to the front at the quarter pole, just in front of Dixie Strike, as the leaders yielded. The field bunched up in the homestretch with Dixie Strike getting the lead. But she would falter as Irish Mission, who advanced to fourth at the quarter pole, rallied at the center of the course to take over.
"She broke right where I wanted her to," Solis said. "I just wanted to be patient. The first quarter of a mile, I let her lope around there and when I got to the backside, I said, 'Stay patient.' At the five-eighths pole, I started picking them up little by little and got in a good position at the five-sixteenths, and just had to wait."
Aldous Snow, rallying widest of all, finished willingly but could not get past the winner in the final strides. Aldous Snow was a clear second under Eurico Da Silva by 4 3/4 lengths over Quaesitor and Emma-Jayne Wilson. Final time for the 1 1/2 miles was a slow 2:30.90 over firm going.
"I could not ask for a better trip. The horse was very relaxed and he gave everything he could. "He ran big, but the filly never let me go by," Da Silva said of Aldous Snow. "I had all kinds of horse (at the top of the stretch). I was not even moving yet, I was just starting to run and I knew he was going to give a good kick. I was surprised she could hold me off."
Irish Mission, sent off as the third choice, paid $11.80, $6.10, $4.70. Second choice Aldous Snow, also at 9-2 odds, returned $5.80 and $4.20, and completed a $54.60 exacta. Quaesitor paid $12.10 to show.
Seen It All Before was fourth, followed by Sammy Maudlin, Dixie Strike, Lateegra, Ultimate Destiny, Street Fight, Peyton, Dragon Tail, Colleen's Sailor, Big Kick, and Wilcox.
Irish Mission earned $299,610 for the Breeders' win, boosting her career bankroll to $851,281. She has won three times from 11 starts with a pair of seconds.