Roxy Gap wins the Royal North Stakes.

Roxy Gap wins the Royal North Stakes.

Michael Burns

Roxy Gap Beats 'Hurricane for Royal North Win

Eugene Melnyk's homebred earns third graded stakes win of the season at Woodbine.

Roxy Gap defeated Atlantic Hurricane in a determined stretch duel to secure her first stakes win on turf by a half-length in the $186,402 Royal North Stakes (Can-IIIT) July 29 at Woodbine (VIDEO).

Patrick Husbands drove the stalking Roxy Gap to the lead in upper stretch and the gritty daughter of Indian Charlie dug in when challenged on the outside by favored Atlantic Hurricane. She refused to let the challenger get past her in the charge to the wire to prevail as the 122-pound high weight. Defending Royal North winner Jenny's So Great was 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third.

The final time for the six-furlong distance on firm turf was 1:09.18.

Mark Casse trains the winning 4-year-old filly for owner Eugene Melnyk, who bred the bay in Ontario. Roxy Gap, who picked up her third graded stakes win of the year, is out of the Saint Ballado mare Harts Gap.

Roxy Gap and Atlantic Hurricane were both sent off at odds of 2-1, with Atlantic Hurricane the slight pick.

Breaking from the far outside post in the field of six, Roxy Gap was positioned in fourth early as Anywhere took the early lead over Dance to the Moon and posted an opening quarter-mile of :23.34. Roxy Gap, always close, ranged three wide leaving the turn to get the advantage after a half-mile in :46.12. Roxy Gap was clear briefly but she was quickly tackled by Atlantic Hurricane, who rallied from fourth.

Atlantic Hurricane, the defending champion female sprinter in Canada, drew to within a neck of Roxy Gap and seemed poised to sweep past with Emile Ramsammy aboard past mid-stretch. But Roxy Gap, under some urging from Husbands, held sway to win narrowly.

Husbands, who won both the Vandal (Uncaptured ) and Duchess Stakes (Spirited Miss) for Casse on Saturday's card at Woodbine, admitted he had his eyes on Atlantic Hurricane throughout the event.

"I didn't want Emile to get the first run on me swinging for home," smiled Husbands. "From the time I left the gate and got my filly set up, I had to keep my eyes on them. She battled the whole way down the lane."

Rallying Jenny's So Great, ridden by Luis Contreras, was no threat to the first two finishers while edging Classy Zip by three-quarters of a length for third. Anywhere and Dance to the Moon trailed.

In six starts this season, Roxy Gap has three wins, two seconds, and a third. She won both the Whimsical (Can-III) and the Hendrie (Can-II) over Woodbine's Polytrack this spring before finishing second to Marketing Mix in the one-mile Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) on the grass June 2. In her most recent start, Roxy Gap ran second again in the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too on Woodbine's Polytrack as the 2-5 favorite July 7.

Roxy Gap improved her overall record to 7-3-2 in 13 starts with earnings of $803,626.

The winner, who now has two wins on turf from five starts, paid $6.40, $3, $2.40. Atlantic Hurricane, who carried 118 pounds, returned $3.10 and $2.10 and completed a $15 exacta. Jenny's So Great was $2.60 to show.

Honey Chile was scratched by stewards.