Lady Shari Makes Sovereign Statement in Maple Leaf

Lady Shari staked her claim as Canada's top 3-year-old filly with a resounding win in Saturday's $247,750 Maple Leaf Stakes (gr. III), the complement feature race on Coronation Futurity day at Woodbine.

Lady Shari, a dark bay daughter of Judge TC, went into the 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf with two wins in 2002, including a victory in the Canadian Derby (gr. III) against colts at Northlands Park in Edmonton.

A win in the Maple Leaf against older fillies and mares was critical to her Sovereign Award aspirations and she got it under Constant Montpellier. Early in the race, Montpellier sat Lady Shari off fractions of :24.39, :48.86 and 1:14.01 set by My Real Quiet Lady and chief rival Small Promises.

In mid-stretch, Small Promises seized control, but an onrushing Lady Shari was also making her presence felt, blowing past in final 70 yards to win by 3 ½ lengths at the wire.

Lady Shari, trained by Dave Cotey for Dominion Bloodstock, Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith, covered the trip in 2:06.22 over a track listed as "fast."

Small Promises hung on for second, a neck ahead of Silver Nithi.

"(Lady Shari) felt terrific today," Montpellier said. "I was stuck in traffic the whole race, but I had so much horse. I found a little room and she did the rest. I knew once I got her out of the traffic, she would fire and she sure did."

Cotey, who didn't win a race in October, kicked off the November stakes season in style with a win in the 109th Maple Leaf. "We thought the mile and a quarter would be no problem for (Lady Shari)," Cotey said.

The win, worth $118,650 to Cotey and partners, raised Lady Shari's career earnings to $584,516.

She paid $12.00, $6.10, $4.90 across the board and combined with favorite Small Promises ($3.70, $3.00) for a $40.60 exacta. Silver Nithi ($4.50) rounded out the $199.40 trifecta.

(Chart, Equibase)