Stormy Lord, who notched his first stakes score with a gutsy half-length win in the Toronto Cup, will get a distance test when he faces a dozen 3-year-old rivals in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes on the Woodbine turf course Aug. 15.
If all 13 promising Ontario breds start in the 12-furlong event, which is Canada's final Triple Crown jewel, the field would match the size of the 2009 renewal that produced a record $95.30 payoff when Perfect Shower tallied by three-quarters of a length. The largest field for the Breeders' Stakes since it was inaugurated as part of the Triple crown in 1959 was 15 in 1987.
Stormy Lord is the 2-1 morning line favorite.
Neither Big Red Mike, who captured the Queen's Plate on Woodbine's Polytrack July 4, nor Prince of Wales victor Golden Moka, who surprised over Fort Erie's dirt track three weeks later, are entered this time. The Breeders' Stakes is the ninth race on the program with a 5:10 p.m. EDT probable post.
Stormy Lord will attempt to give his breeder Kinghaven Farms, which co-owns the Stormy Atlantic gelding with Hat Trick Stable, a record sixth win the Breeders' Stakes. Kinghaven is presently tied with Windfields Farms and Sam-Son Farms with five apiece. Sam-Son will have three entrants in the race, all homebreds -- Empire Rising, Born to Act,and Cognashene.
Trained by Ian Black, Stormy Lord won for the first time beyond seven furlongs when he took the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup July 24 while vying on or near the lead all the way around on the Woodbine turf. He finished second in the one-mile Charlie Barley Stakes three weeks earlier and has been quite successful on the Woodbine turf with four wins and two seconds in seven tries.
“It was a very good effort,” Black said.
Out of the Meadowlake mare Lady Auchamore, Stormy Lord is likely to be tested at this added distance. Winner of $398,450 in his career, he will be ridden by James McAleney and will break from post 5 under equal weight of 126 pounds.
Trainer Roger Attfield, who won his record eighth Breeders' Stakes with Perfect Shower, is represented by another outsider this year. Harlequin Ranches' Alphabet Kid, a son of Alphabet Soup, has raced just once before when he faded to sixth against maiden rivals on the Polytrack at 1 1/8 miles July 25.
Mark Frostad, gunning for his fourth win in the race, saddles a pair for Sam-Son: recent maiden winner Empire Rising, a son of Empire Maker who is 15-1, and Born to Act, who ran third in the Toronto Cup, 2 3/4 lengths behind Stormy Lord. Born to Act, at 5-1 on the morning line, is a son of Theatrical out of the Quiet American mare Brave Destiny who figures to improve with the added distance.
Also coming out of the Toronto Cup is fourth-place finisher D's Wando, who made his turf debut in that race for trainer Black.
The Sam-Son triumvirate is completed by its best hope, Cognashene, who is 5-2 on the morning line from the Malcolm Pierce barn. He comes off a 4 1/2-length maiden turf score at 1 1/4 miles in his fifth start July 2. The well-bred Dynaformer gelding, out of Catch the Ring (by Seeking the Gold), leaves from the far outside post.
"He's had a couple of good works,” said Pierce of the dark bay, who also has one second and one third against maiden competition. “He's had six weeks to recover from his maiden win.”
Pierce, who is no stranger to Sam-Son’s success, would love to win his initial Breeders’ for the red and gold.
"It's been 13 years since I've been associated with Sam-Son,” he offered. “I spent 16 years there as an assistant trainer. It would be a thrill for me to win the Breeders' for Sam-Son."
Jockey Patrick Husbands attempts to tie Sandy Hawley and Robin Platts with a record four Breeders' Stakes wins aboard Vicar Street, who was 12th in the Queen's Plate.
Smart Sky also ran in the Queen's Plate, finishing seventh.
There is one filly in the field, Silent Wisper. Bred and owned by Gus Schickedanz and trained by Mike Keogh, the duo who teamed with Wando to win the 2003 Triple Crown, she will seek to become the 12th filly to win the Breeders' and first since Sweetest Thing in 2001.
This will be the seventh straight year Canada will not have a Triple Crown champion and sixth consecutive with three different winners of the three races.
Perfect Shower's 46-1 upset last year was unusual for a race in which favorites have a 47% strike rate (24 for 51) since the inception of the Triple Crown.
$500,000 Breeders' Stakes (Race 9, 5:10 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds Foaled in Canada, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Smart Sky (ON), C Sutherland, M J Doyle
2. Miami Deco (ON), R A Dos Ramos, B A Lynch
3. D's Wando (ON), J C Jones, I Black
4. Abogado (ON), J Stein, A M Delmas
5. Stormy Lord (ON), J McAleney, I Black
6. Empire Rising (ON), E Wilson, M R Frostad
7. Born to Act (ON), R C Landry, M R Frostad
8. Spirit Flying (ON), L Contreras, M Benson
9. Alphabet Kid (ON), C Fraser, R L Attfield
10. Dynamic Royal (ON), E Ramsammy, J Carroll
11. Vicar Street (ON), P Husbands, C Day Phillips
12. Silent Wisper (ON), O Moreno, M Keogh
13. Cognashene (ON), E R Da Silva, M Pierce
Blinkers On: D's Wando, Dynamic Royal
All carry 126 pounds.