The $284,250 Canadian Stakes (gr. IIT) was a picture-perfect win for Calista and jockey Corey Nakatani, who nosed out a fighting Diadella and Todd Kabel in an epic tete-a-tete duel for fillies and mares at Woodbine on Sunday."She's (Calista) very special," said Nakatani, one of the leading riders on the California circuit. "I was really patient with her. When I called on her, she quickened and held on."The two mutuel favorites let the longshots cut the early fractions, with 65-1 outsider Ghazirella assuming early command, cutting an opening quarter-mile in :23.66, over an E.P. Taylor Turf Course rated as "firm." Noble Strike (9-1) and Soundtrack (18-1) rounded out the top three. Ghazirella continued to lead the nine-horse field at the half-mile juncture, timed in :47.33. Both Calista and Diadella, fifth and eighth, respectively, at that point, saved their best stride for the final furlong in the 1 1/8 mile event, never far from contention, yet poised to unleash a strong bid in the latter stages of the race.Kabel finally roused his bay mare off the rail to engage Nakatani and Calista at the head of the stretch, barely missing a trip to the winner's circle following the furious stretch run.The final time for the race was 1:45.04.Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to winning trainer Christophe Clement, was pleased with the effort of Calista."She ran very well," said Bachalard. "We were very confident, but you never know. She's been training very well at Saratoga and we're very happy."
In victory, Calista, a 4-year-old filly, earned $168,750 for The Estate of Gerald Leigh. In all, the lifetime winner of six races has bankrolled $368,918.She paid $4.90, $2.70 and $2.70 across the board, combining with Diadella ($3.10, $2.90) for a $9.60 excata. Jim McAleney guided Lush Soldier ($6.10) to show honors. (Chart, Equibase)