With Huber Villa-Gomez in to ride for trainer Ryan Walsh, Cactus Kris, a 5-year-old Cactus Ridge mare, rated inside off quick early fractions, was guided to the outside, and powered away to an easy win in the 6 1/2-furlong stakes on the Canadian track's new Tapeta surface. It was the fourth stakes win for the mare, who also won Ontario Fashion Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine last year on the old Polytrack surface.
Favored Leigh Court and Academic dueled through fast fractions of :22.22 for the opening quarter-mile and :44.38 for a half-mile, as Cactus Kris raced along the rail in fourth. Galina Point entered the picture past the half-mile pole to put four of the fillies and mares in contention.
Leigh Court, an easy winner of the Whimsical Stakes (Can-III) in her first start of the Woodbine meet and the heavy favorite in the Hendrie, surprisingly gave way in the lane. Cactus Kris, who saved ground for most of the race, was moved to the outside by Villa-Gomez and blew by the competition to win in 1:15.28.
Cactus Kris won by five lengths over Galina Point, who had a half-length on Skylander Girl in third. Leigh Court faltered and finished last of seven. Cactus Kris paid $14.10 to win.
Anne Walsh purchased Cactus Kris for $30,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale. She has raced almost exclusively at Woodbine and Presque Isle Downs & Casino, which also has a Tapeta surface, and ran her synthetic-surface record to seven wins, five seconds, and three thirds in 20 starts.
Cactus Kris trained on the Polytrack surface at Turfway Park to prepare for her 2016 campaign, which began April 16 with a second-place closing finish in the Giant's Causeway Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf at Keeneland. That effort set up Cactus Kris for her Hendrie victory.
"The last race we were using as a prep for this, and she has really exceeded anything we thought she would do," Ryan Walsh said. "She finished with a ton of run. We know she loves the Tapeta from (racing at) Presque Isle. We're real excited about this year."
Cactus Kris, bred in Kentucky out of theLemon Drop Kid mare Highest Ground by James Paliafito and Tom Keegan, earned $90,000 to push her career earnings to $488,410. The well-managed mare has made 18 of 20 starts on synthetic surfaces, and the other two on grass.