Maiden Active Duty Gets Coronation Upset

Mark Casse trainee holds off favored El Brujo in Woodbine 2-year-old test.

Active Duty found the right spot to break his maiden in his fifth lifetime start, scoring easily as the longest shot on the board in the $204,351 Coronation Futurity for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds at Woodbine Nov. 16.

Ridden by Corey Fraser for trainer Mark Casse at odds of 11-1, the stalking Active Duty seized the lead from his stablemate Gallant in upper stretch and drove to a clear victory by 2 1/4 lengths over the 1-2 favorite El Brujo. The slow-starting Khabibulin ran on for third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner. The final time was 1:52.01 for the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack test.

A gelding by Deputy Commander--Punchbowl, by Two Punch, Active Duty had raced on turf in each of his four prior starts. Owned by Woodford Racing, the bay had a second and two thirds in three tries at the maiden special weight level and was coming off a sixth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Cup & Saucer on a yielding Woodbine turf Oct. 26.

"When I worked him on the Polytrack, he worked quite well," said Casse, who won his first Coronation Futurity. "He's a beautiful horse."

Gallant went to the lead for Patrick Husbands soon after the start and staked a two-length lead over Active Duty while getting away with slow fractions of :25.20, :49.57, and 1:13.91. Active Duty, racing three-wide with Flying Brigade on his inside, continued to press the leader around the turn for home before challenging for the lead at the top of the lane.

Active Duty quickly took control as Gallant and Flying Brigade gradually fell back. El Brujo, in hand for Emma-Jayne Wilson, closed on the outside to get into third on the turn and rallied strongly through the stretch before tiring late. El Brujo finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Khabibulin, who broke in the air, but closed with determination for jockey Emile Ramsammy. Khabibulin nipped Gallant by a head for third.

"I got the privilege to work both of these horses," said Fraser, making reference to fourth-place finisher Gallant, who set the pace under Patrick Husbands. "It set up pretty nice for me. I was actually wondering if (Gallant) was the only one I had to worry about."

Bred by Adena Springs, Active Duty was an $80,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase in 2007. The winner earned $122,415 for the victory and boosted his career bankroll to $149,145.

Active Duty paid $25, $7.50, and $4.10. El Brujo, who now has two seconds and two thirds from four stakes starts for trainer Malcolm Pierce, returned $2.50 and $2.10. The $2 exacta paid $64.20. Khabibulin was $3.30 to show.

Gallant was followed by Flying Brigade and Cool Diablo, who trailed the field throughout.