Havelock, shipping in from Kentucky for trainer Darrin Miller, closed with a rush along the rail to register an 18-1 upset by a head in the $208,219 Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT) (VIDEO) on the Woodbine turf Aug. 28.
Jermaine Bridgmohan guided Silverton Hill's 4-year-old homebred son of Great Notion to his first graded stakes victory in Woodbine's main prep for the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) Sept. 18. The bay gelding, out of the New Zealand mare Piconeach (by Spectacular Love), won the Arlington Sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs by a neck in his most recent start July 16.
“We’ve been targeting sprints and turf," Miller said. "Arlington’s close to home and this (race) looked like the next logical place to step up and try a graded race with him. It’s fallen in place for us."
Miller said the Woodbine Mile would be a consideration.
"I’m sure we’ll toss it around. Before (this race) I would have said no, but considering the way he gutted it out today, we’ll think about it.
“A great effort on the horse. He’s a never-say-die kind of horse. That’s the beautiful thing about him. Jermaine, for whatever reason, gets along fantastic with this horse. He has not put a bad ride on him. Jermaine made the right call, putting him where he needed to be, called on him, and the horse ran for him.”
Stretched out to seven furlongs for the Play the King, Havelock was timed in 1:21.56 on firm going to register his fifth lifetime win in 12 starts. Havelock has won three of seven races in 2011.
In a blanket finish, Riding the River nosed Fatal Bullet for second, with Gypsy Ring a neck back in fourth. All four were at long odds and contributed to a $133,350 superfecta for a $1 bet. The $2 trifecta paid $10,236.70 and the exacta was worth $758.20.
Signature Red, the 7-2 favorite in the field of 12 turf sprinters, finished eighth after a wide trip.
Stalking early along the inside after breaking from the rail, Havelock raced just behind Fatal Bullet, who cut quick fractions of :22.96 and :45.72 while being pushed along by Stormy Lord, Havelock, and Great Mills.
Fatal Bullet, ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, was resilient in the stretch as the field spread out for the drive and continued to hold the lead past the sixteenth-pole. Riding the River, coming fast from between horses for Richard Dos Ramos, got a slim advantage approaching the wire but couldn't hold off the streaking Havelock in the final couple of strides.
“We had the inside post,” said Bridgmohan. “But we didn’t want to be inside. I tried to ease away but I saw an opportunity so I had to go back in there and it worked out in the end. I tried to wait as long as I could.”
Fatal Bullet held determinedly for third, with the closing Gypsy Ring settling for fourth.
Havelock paid $39.30, $19.60, and $13.30. Riding the River, who was eighth at mid-stretch, returned $23.60 and $13.20 with a blazing finish. The show price on Fatal Bullet, who finished third in last year's Play the King in a very similar effort, was $12.40.
Havelock, with his fourth victory in seven tries on the turf, earned $122,244 and has now banked $274,321 in his career.