Benjamin Hutzel's homebred colt Passion for Action rallied from off the pace in a six-horse field to win the $173,777 Highlander Stakes (Can-IIT) July 3 at Woodbine for his third stakes win in four starts this year.
Heavy favorite Lady Shipman, an easy winner in her last two starts since her return from Dubai, contended for most of the six furlongs but faded to finish fifth.
Passion for Action, a 4-year-old by Speightstown out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Maritime Passion, raced toward the back of the pack in the turf event, while Something Extra and Lady Shipman dueled through fractions of :21.99 for the opening quarter-mile and :44.44 for a half-mile. Green Mask, wearing blinkers for the first time, rated just behind the top pair.
When the field turned for home, Green Mask rallied three-wide to engage Something Extra, who had the rail, and Lady Shipman. The 5-year-old Mizzen Mast gelding took over briefly but couldn't contain Passion for Action, who saved ground, found room and tipped four-wide, and ran him down late under Eurico Rosa da Silva.
Passion for Action, trained by Mike De Paulo, covered the distance in 1:08.05 on a course rated firm. He paid $15.30 to win, $5.20 to place, and $10.30. There was a minus show pool on Lady Shipman, a 4-year-old Midshipman filly who was gunning for her 12th win in 17 starts.
Passion for Action won by a neck over Green Mask, who had 2 1/4 lengths on Something Extra. Hootenany finished fourth, followed by Lady Shipman and Black Hornet.
"He's an awesome horse," Hutzel said. "He's not big, but he has more heart than any horse I've had. Mike has done a brilliant job getting the horse ready."
De Paulo, who has trained the Ontario-bred colt to six wins, four seconds, and one third in 16 starts for earnings in excess of a half-million dollars, said he hopes Passion for Action can continue his roll. He won the Jacques Cartier Stakes and Vigil Stakes (Can-III), both on Woodbine's Tapeta surface, to start his campaign, and then finished a close second in the Connaught Cup (Can-IIT) on the grass.
"He's a nice horse," said da Silva, who won three of the first four races on the Sunday card. "There was a lot of speed to run at, but I decided to stay inside. I was lucky I found room."