Are You Kidding Me wins the Eclipse Stakes (Can-II)

Are You Kidding Me wins the Eclipse Stakes (Can-II)

Michael Burns

Are You Kidding Me Repeats in Eclipse

Horse set the pace and endured a duel to win $200,000 race.

Back home at Woodbine, Ronald Kirk, John Bates, and Michael Riordan's Are You Kidding Me thrived like it was 2015 in the $200,000 Eclipse Stakes (Can-II) May 28. 

In his second start of 2016, last year's champion Canadian older horse set the pace with pressure through almost all of the 1 1/16-mile race over the synthetic main track and pulled away late to win the Eclipse for the second straight year. His first start of the year was an eighth-place finish in the Maker's 46 Mile Stakes at Keeneland (gr. IT).

Under jockey Alan Garcia, the Roger Attfield-trained 6-year-old son of Run Away and Hide  set fractions of :25.51, :50.50, and 1:14.91 through six furlongs, with Melmich within a half-length. Melmich moved up, head-to-head with the leader in the final turn, and the two battled into the stretch, but Are You Kidding Me found more on the inside and prevailed to win by two lengths, ahead of closing Breaking Lucky, who came in 1 1/4-lengths ahead of Melmich. The winner hit the wire in 1:44.95. 

Video: Eclipse S. (G2)

It was Are You Kidding Me's fourth graded stakes win at Woodbine since June of last year, when he won the Eclipse for the first time. He now has a 7-3-6 record from 26 starts, with earnings of $755,190.

Are You Kidding Me hadn't led early in a race since the 2014 Durham Cup (Can-III) at Woodbine, where he finished third, but did win in frontrunning fashion in the 2013 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park.

"He won in Delaware wire to wire and I saw in the program that there was no speed, so Roger (Attfield) said, 'You know the horse very well, so go ahead,'" Garcia said. "It worked out good. It was a slow pace. It was comfortable, and turning for home I asked him to go, and he took off.

"When I was feeling my horse so comfortable after the first quarter, I thought I was home free. He was so happy to be up there and I only had to wait to the quarter pole to let him run."

Florida Won finished an even fourth, followed by Peyton and Ami's Holiday to complete the order of finish.

The winner paid $4.60, $3.20, and $2.50 across the board. Breaking Lucky brought $4.80 and $3, and Melmich delivered $2.40 to show.