The 1 3/4-mile distance of the $176,816 Valedictory Stakes proved no problem for odds-on favorite Pool Play, who rallied wide in the stretch en route to a handy victory on closing day of the 167-day Woodbine meet Dec. 5 (VIDEO).
The three-quarter-of-a-length triumph put a bow on the season for trainer Mark Casse, who ran away with the 2010 Woodbine title with 87 victories, and for jockey Patrick Husbands, who finished second to Eurico Rosa Da Silva in the rider standings.
Pool Play, a 5-year-old son of Silver Deputy owned by W.S. Farish Jr., picked up his first stakes win since the Durham Cup (Can-III) in his added-money debut in October 2009. The final time for the Polytrack marathon was 3:01.42.
Husbands settled Pool Play in seventh toward the inside as Village Drive, stalked by Yankee Scholar, Perfect Shower and Eye of the Leopard , took the nine-horse field along through six furlongs in :50.35, a mile in 1:43.61 and 10 furlongs in 2:09.22 before giving way. Perfect Shower made his bid between horses early on the final turn and battled with Eye of the Leopard in upper stretch.
Pool Play, angled six wide on the turn, advanced to third on the outside and soon gained a half-length edge over Eye of the Leopard with a furlong to run. He pulled clear from there and was in hand approaching the wire.
Eye of the Leopard, last year's Canadian 3-year-old champion ridden by Luis Contreras, finished a clear second by 1 1/4 lengths over the late-running Helicopter and Brandon Meier. Helicoptor edged Perfect Shower by a neck for the third spot. Bettors had this race dead on with the first four finishing in exact order of the wagering.
Pool Play tuned up for the Valedictory with three-length win in a 1 5/8-mile allowance race Nov. 6. The dark bay horse improved his career record to 5-5-5 in 24 races with earnings of $540,429, collecting $107,644 for the victory.
Bred in Ontario by Windfields Farm, Pool Play is out of the Cox's Ridge mare Zuri Ridge.
Pool Play carried top weight of 118 pounds and paid $3.90, $2.80 and $2.10. Eye of the Leopard returned $3.90 and $2.80 and completed a $13.90 exacta. Helicopter was $3.50 to show.
Perfect Shower was followed by En Fuego, Lemonade Kid and Zhivago. Yankee Scholar and Village Drove were both eased in the stretch.