Like A Gem Spoils Kimchi's Triple Tiara Bid

(from Woodbine report)
Like a Gem, dismissed at odds of 48-1, dashed the Triple Tiara hopes of Kimchi, in capturing the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes Saturday on the Woodbine turf Saturday.

Like a Gem, who finished a distant 10th to Kimchi in the Labatt Woodbine Oaks, first race in the series, wore down a game Strike Softly in the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where, winning by a half-length in 2:05.61 over a turf course listed as "yielding."

She paid $98.10, $31.30, and $17.70 across the board.

With David Clark aboard, the gray daughter of Tactical Cat settled off pacesetters Strike Softly and 2-1 favorite Kimchi, who had taken the first two legs of the Triple Tiara series, through early splits of :25.12 and :49.97, then set sights on the leaders as the field straightened for the journey down the long E.P. Taylor Turf Course stretch.

Stronach Stable's Sprightly rallied for third, 1 1/4 lengths back of the runner-up, while Kimchi, who also took the Labatt Bison City Stakes, second leg in the Triple Tiara at Fort Erie, finished fourth, 5 ¼ lengths behind Like a Gem.

"She ran a good race, but there are no excuses," said jockey Patrick Husbands, of Kimchi's performance. "She had a perfect trip. Before the eighth pole, she said she'd had enough of this series."

The Seasoft Stable silk-bearer was looking to become the first filly to win the Triple Tiara, launched in 1999.

The triumph was an especially sweet one for Like a Gem's connections, including conditioner Dan Vella, who watched his young star battle a virus leading up to the Oaks.

"It's been a tough road getting here, and she's a very tough filly," said Vella of the Ontario-bred, who now has three wins from nine starts. "It's a great credit to her that she was able to do this today. She was sick before the Oaks, and we thought she was over it, but she wasn't. She's just a great filly."

Like a Gem came into the Wonder Where off a sixth-place effort in the Ontario Damsel Stakes July 9, contested at 6 1/2 furlongs on the Toronto oval turf, six lengths back of Strike Softly.

Bred and owned by Garland Williamson, Like a Gem, who broke her maiden in her career bow last November, won her first race since a three-length score at six furlongs on the dirt April 15. She earned $150,000 for the victory.

"That's just the way horse racing is, lots of ups and downs," offered Williamson. "Races like this just kind of wash it all away."

Like a Gem combined with Strike Softly ($7.50, $6.50) for an $878.80 exacta. Sprightly ($7.50 to show) completed a $7,167.70 trifecta. The $1 Superfecta with Kimchi paid $38,265.80.

(Chart, Equibase)