After saddling second-place finishers in three of the first four stakes races of the Woodbine meet, a last-to-first surge from Judiths Wild Rush in Saturday's Grade 3 $166,100 Vigil Stakes put trainer Reade Baker in the winner's circle for the first time in 2005. Judiths Wild Rush, Canada's champion 2-year-old in 2003, was a 1 ¼-length winner over Mobil, the country's reigning older horse champion and A Bit O'Gold, the 3-year-old champion. I Thee Wed was a game fourth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths.The Wild Rush colt, owned by Tenenbaum Racing Stables, went seven furlongs in 1:23.19.Jockey Slade Callaghan settled the 4-year-old at the back of the pack early, off the rail, inside Mobil, and behind A Bit O'Gold. The lack of early speed was intended, according to Callaghan. "Reade asked me to try to get him to relax a little bit and come running late. We were fortunate. We got shuffled back at the three-eighths pole, but he came running and we got there."Baker, who took over training duties on Judiths Wild Rush earlier this year, is thrilled to have the gray in his barn. "When I got the call telling me I was going to get him, it was like Christmas came early." That is especially true after Baker's narrow losses in stakes this year.On opening day, Judiths Wild Rush lost a head-bob to Ministers Wild Cat in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier Stakes. One day later, Baker trainee Silver Bird finished second to Nashinda in the Star Shoot Stakes. And last weekend, 3-year-old filly Gold Strike closed well to be second to Lemon Maid.
For Judiths Wild Rush, his sixth career win, worth $99,180, raised his career earnings to $428,116. He paid $12.50, $4.80, $2.80 and combined with Mobil ($2.90, $2.50) for a $27.80 exacta. The champions' trifecta, with A Bit O'Gold ($2.70), returned $79.90.(Chart, Equibase)