Undefeated Embur's Song heads a field of eight for $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, the most prestigious race in the country for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.
Post time for the 55th edition of the 1 1/18-mile classic over Woodbine's Polytrack is scheduled 5:16 p.m. EST. Also on the card is the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes, which has attracted eight Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds with aspirations of competing in Canada’s most famous race, the Queen’s Plate, July 4 at Woodbine.
Fares Farm’s Embur’s Song, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Garrett Gomez, is the 9-5 morning line choice. The Ontario-bred daughter of Unbridled's Song, who is making her stakes debut, is unbeaten in two starts and with an Oaks victory would become the only filly to capture the classic in just her third start.
Embur’s Song debuted at Keeneland April 17 with a smashing 13 1/4-length romp in a seven-furlong maiden contest, registering a 99 Beyer Speed figure. She was then sent to Woodbine for a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on May 22 and scored easily again, this time by almost four lengths, recording another huge Beyer (98) while being clocking in 1:42.44, just one-fifth of a second off the track record.
“We know this will be a much tougher race than the last one,” said Pletcher. “From a timing standpoint, we’re kind of asking her to do a lot in a short period of time. We’re hoping that her natural ability can overcome maybe a less than ideal schedule. But she seems to be handling it all.”
Embur’s Song was bred by Josham Farms and is out of the Bold Ruckus mare Embur Sunshine.
Trainer Roger Attfield, who has won the Oaks on three occasions (Playlist in 1986, Plenty of Sugar in 1994, and Capdiva in 1997), will saddle Jim and Susan Hill’s Ernfold, the second choice at 5-2. The daughter of Stormy Atlantic has won twice in six starts and has been stakes-placed on three occasions. She was third in both the Natalma and Princess Elizabeth stakes last year, then recently was runner-up to Biofuel in the May 23 La Lorgnette. She will be ridden by Jim McAleney, who won the 2005 Oaks aboard Gold Strike.
“It was an excellent race,” said Attfield, about Ernfold’s effort in the La Lorgnette. “She had one (previous) start and ran a very good second to a good filly. It was a strangely run race because there was so little pace. We had to be on the lead a little earlier than we wanted. She put up a tremendous showing.”
Resentless, trained by Ian Howard for owner Donald Ross, is a three-time winner in six starts, and enters the Oaks off a five-length victory in the seven furlong Fury Stakes on May 1, her only outing of the season. She is the field’s leading money winner with $273,090. Last year, she finished second to Oaks rival Roan Inish in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. The daughter of Trajectory will be handled by Chantal Sutherland.
Resentless came down with a virus and bacterial infection after the Fury and was briefly sidelined.
“It’s always worrisome when you’ve missed time and you have to guess where you are,” said Howard. “But her ability to sustain her speed throughout a race can take her further than most horses. She does it very easily. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
Robert Costigan’s homebred Roan Inish is trained by his daughter Carolyn Costigan, who will try to become the first female conditioner to win the Oaks. Last year, the daughter of Elusive Quality came to Canada from Ireland and proceeded to break her maiden in the prestigious Princess Elizabeth, defeating Resentless by one length with a late stretch charge. This year, she debuted with a second-place finish to Resentless in the Fury, also her only start of the campaign.
Two-time Oaks winner Mark Casse will send out Classic Oaks Farm’s Isabeau's Elegance, a daughter of Dixie Union. Isabeau’s Elegance will be making just her fourth career start after breaking her maiden on May 21, edging Oaks rival Oil Painting by a nose. Casse trained 2006 Oaks winner Kimchi and 2007 Oaks champion and Horse of the Year Sealy Hill.
The Woodbine Oaks is the first leg in the filly Triple Tiara, followed by the $250,000 Bison City Stakes on July 11, and the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes on Aug. 1 on the turf, both also at Woodbine. Only Sealy Hill in 2007 has captured the Triple Tiara.
$500,000 Woodbine Oaks (Race 9, 5:16 p.m.),3YO fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainers, Odds
1. Isabeau's Elegance (ON), C Fraser, 121, M E Casse, 20/1
2. Resentless (ON), C Sutherland, 121, I Howard, 3/1
3. Roan Inish (ON), D Moran, 121, C M Costigan, 6/1
4. Tee Game (ON), S Callaghan, 121, M J Doyle, 20/1
5. Oil Painting (ON), P Husbands, 121, J Carroll, 20/1
6. Embur's Song (ON), G K Gomez, 121, T A Pletcher, 9/5
7. Moment of Majesty (ON), R C Landry, 121, S Leslie, 10/1
8. Ernfold (ON), J McAleney, 121, R L Attfield, 5/2