Darley Stable’s Sahara Heat, favored while making his stakes debut, recorded his third consecutive victory when he wired seven rivals in Saturday's $150,000 Marine (Can-III) (VIDEO) for 3-year-olds on the Woodbine Polytrack.
Fernando Jara rode the dark bay son of A.P. Indy to a gutsy 1 1/4-length victory over Approval Rating for trainer Eoin Harty. Angel of the House, who closed along the rail, was a neck back for third.
Include Us, the lone Plate-eligible horse in the race, finished fifth. The Roger Attfield pupil came into the race off a second-place effort on April 21 at Keeneland.
The running time for 1 1/16 miles over the Polytrack was 1:46.47.
“We know he has some talent and he showed it today,” said Jara, who watched Sahara Heat dig in late to repel a strong outside bid from Approval Rating, ridden by Patrick Husbands. “When I asked him, he responded.”
Jara is the sixth different rider to pilot the dark bay colt from six starts. Sahara Heat won by a nose on March 3 at Gulfstream Park and by a head on April 14 over the Keeneland Polytrack.
“The purses are so good up here (Woodbine), we thought we’d take a chance and come up,” said Oliver Costello, assistant to Harty. “Every time he comes out of a race the next day he’s fresh.”
Husbands, aboard Approval Rating, one of two Mark Casse starters (Skip Code finished seventh), knew he had to keep tabs on the favorite from the get-go.
“Throughout the whole race, I had my eyes on (Sahara Heat),” said Husbands. “I knew he was the one to beat. I think I probably moved my horse too soon. But it was a chance I had to take. He gave me 110 per cent.”
The Marine is the third of five key Queen's Plate preps. The $1 million Queen's Plate, set for June 24 at Woodbine, is the most prominent race on the Canadian horse racing calendar. The critical Plate Trial is scheduled for June 3, while the Victoria Park Stakes is on June 10.
Sid Attard trainees took the first two preps. Like Mom Like Sons won the Woodstock on April 21. Jiggs Coz triumphed in the Queenston on May 6.
The last horse to win the Marine en route to a Plate victory was eventual Triple Crown champion Wando, in 2003.
Sahara Heat paid $6.10, $3.80, $3.50 across the board, combining with Approval Rating ($4.90, $3.90) for a $28.90 exacta. Angel of the House ($5.20) rounded out the $223.20 trifecta.
Artie Hot, Include Us, Bilbo, Skip Code and second choice Kuma followed.