'News Has Nose for Connaught Cup Victory

(from Woodbine report)
Odds-on choice Remarkable News, Javier Castellano in the irons, fought off two stubborn rivals to capture the $150,000 Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-IIIT) by a nose in dramatic fashion Sunday at Woodbine.

The Connaught Cup, the first turf stakes race at the Toronto track of the 2006 campaign, contested at 1 1/16 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, went postward with seven horses after the scratches of Last Answer and Awesome Action.

Holly Rincon's Remarkable News, the 7-10 favorite, had to fight hard for the victory in his Woodbine debut.

In an all-out battle to the wire, 7-year-old Le Cinquieme Essai, the defending Connaught Cup champion whose last start was a third-place finish in the Atto Mile (Can-I) on Sept.18, showed his resiliency along the inside, while 23-1 shot Sky Conqueror loomed menacingly on the outside.

At the line, reached in a quick 1:39.67, Remarkable News got the victory by a nose over Le Cinquieme Essai. Sky Conqueror was a head back in third. It was a head farther back to the fourth-place finisher, Jambalaya.

"He was a competitor today," said Castellano, who rode Bernardini to an upset score in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on May 20. "I was scared at the top of the stretch. It's a long stretch. But everything worked out pretty good."

The winning son of Chayim dueled outside of Le Cinquieme Essai as the former cut early fractions of :24.21 for the quarter and :47.14 for the half-mile.

Remarkable News appeared to put his rival away when the field straightened for the long stretch run after getting six furlongs in 1:10.23. But Cinquieme Essai refused to back down and along with the late-running Sky Conqueror and Jambalaya, made for a nail-biting finish.

With the Connaught Cup victory, 4-year-old Remarkable News now has three consecutive wins and five trips to the winner's circle in his past six starts.

In 2005, the chestnut won two times from three starts. Overall, the Angel Penna Jr. trainee has five wins, one second and one third from seven career starts.

"He never gives up," said Castellano. "He always fights right to the end."

With the winner's share of $90,000, Remarkable News' bankroll now stands at $210,024.

He paid $3.50, $2.60 and $2.50, combining with Le Cinquieme Essai ($4.40, $3.90) for a $19.40 exacta. Sky Conqueror ($5.70) rounded out a $131.10 trifecta.

Jambalaya was followed under the wire by Willard Straight, Estevan and Colorful Judgement.

(Chart, Equibase)