Bowman Mill Takes the Stage in Sky Classic

(from Woodbine report)
The featured $271,750 Sky Classic Stakes (Can-II) Sunday at Woodbine looked like a two-horse race on paper and on the tote board. But instead of Strut the Stage, the 1-2 favorite and multiple stakes-winning Mobil, at 2-1the contenders were 6-1 Bowman Mill and 24-1 outsider Lenny the Lender.

The pair hooked up in a late stretch duel which saw Bowman Mill hang on to win by a nose in the 1 3/8-mile turf contest run over a soft course in 2:23.14. A game Mobil, after setting the pace, came back on for third, outfighting Strut the Stage by a neck, but four lengths behind the winner.

As the leaders crossed the wire, Bowman Mill, ridden by Brice Blanc, body-slammed Lenny the Lender and jockey Chantal Sutherland, resulting in a stewards' inquiry. However, after deliberation, it was determined that the incident happened just past the wire and the result was allowed to stand.

Bowman Mill, trained by Michael Dickinson, was making only his third start of the year. In his last outing, though, he'd finished a close fourth to Strut the Stage, just 3 1/2 lengths behind the Sam-Son Farm runner, in the Aug. 30 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap at Woodbine.

With six starters, it was left to Mobil and jockey Patrick Husbands to assume command. They led their rivals through fractions of :25.39, :50.14 and 1:16.40. After the mile was reached in 1:42.88, Mobil was challenged by Bowman Mill and Strut the Stage as the field swung into the long E.P. Taylor Turf Course stretch.

Benefiting from an impost of only 113 pounds, 10 pounds less than Strut the Stage, Bowman Mill was able to continue his charge down the stretch, pulling clear at the eighth pole, before withstanding the late bid on the rail from Lenny the Lender.

"He did duck in a little bit but we were two or three jumps past the wire," said Blanc. " That's when the worst happened. My horse was getting a little tired. He ran hard all the way around and fought hard down the lane. He deserved to get a little tired. He impressed me quite a bit today. He showed me a lot of heart and a lot of desire, especially on the soft ground like this. We had the right weight as well. It helps us a lot when you go that far."

"He's a nice horse," added assistant trainer John Ferriday. "He's improving each time. We're very happy. I was a bit worried (when the inquiry sign went up), but Brice came back and he said it (the bumping) happened just after the line."

For the win, Bowman Mill, owned and bred by John Chandler of Kentucky, picked up a pot of $163,050.

The lightly-raced 5-year-old son of Kris S., making only his ninth career start, paid $15.80, $7.70 and $14.00, while Lenny the Lender returned $13.30 to place and $21.50 to show. Mobil fashioned a big show price as well, $10.60, because Strut the Stage, the heavy favorite, was fourth. The exacta was worth $196.70 and the trifecta paid $712.20.

(Chart, Equibase)