After disappointing in his last two starts, Judiths Wild Rush answered the bell like a true champion in winning the $164,100 Marine Stakes (Can-III) Saturday at Woodbine.Judiths Wild Rush, last year's top juvenile male in Canada, easily brushed aside Queen's Plate contenders Burst Of Fire and Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk to win the 1 1/16-mile race by one length under Dino Luciani for trainer Scott Fairlie and owner Tenenbaum Racing Stable.It was a welcome return to form for the colt after a ninth-place finish as the favorite, in the $1 million Delta Jackpot in Louisiana in December to close out his 2-year-old campaign. That was followed by a lackluster sixth-place showing in the Bay Shore Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct in April.Luciani sent the gray straight to the front in the Marine, cutting early fractions of :23.32 and :47.11. A pair of Kentucky-breds, Honolua Storm and Organ Grinder, stalked their rival throughout the two-turn affair, but 'Judith' responded to the pressure and drew off in the stretch in a time of 1:45.96 over a "fast" main track.Luciani, who had the choice of riding Judiths Wild Rush or Plate-eligible Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk, left the difficult decision to his agent, Andy Bankuti."It's always a tough decision when you have two nice horses like that," said Luciani, who picked up his first Marine crown. "The Delta race had us confused," explained Fairlie. "He didn't run a jump there. He was gawking the whole way around and was scrambling over the racetrack. When we got him back to the farm, he was quite foot-sore when we pulled the shoes off him. We thought maybe that the foot problem was the reason he ran like that. He got out-sprinted in that race in New York, going seven-eighths on a very speed biased day."
With the win, the son of Wild Rush is now four-for-four at the Toronto oval. Judiths Wild Rush collected $98,460 for the Marine triumph, to raise his career earnings to $241,375 from six lifetime starts.Burst Of Fire finished fourth, Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk was last in the six-horse field.Judith's Wild Rush paid $5.20, $3.30, $3.00 across the board and combined with a game Organ Grinder ($9.00, $4.20) for a $52.40 exacta. Honolua Storm ($4.70) was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third and rounded out a $259.70 trifecta.
The Queen's Plate is set for June 27 at Woodbine.