Plate Trial winner Amis Gizmo appeared to be in the clear in the stretch, but Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Gio Ponti colt found his best stride late, collared the leader in the final furlong, and moved by on the outside to win the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds by a half-length.
Under jockey Julien Leparoux, who wasn't aboard for the Plate Trial but did guide him to his maiden-breaking win on the Keeneland turf April 22, the Mike Maker-trained Sir Dudley Digges finished off the 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.09 on the Tapeta surface.
“He’s a laid-back horse and it took him a while to come around,” Maker said.
"He broke good. He put me in a good spot," Leparoux said. "In the first turn, they slowed down so much I was a little bit worried. In the backside they started picking it up. He just grinded and grinded the whole way."
Amis Gizmo was a length ahead at the furlong pole, but could not hold off Sir Dudley Digges.
“I tried to relax my horse as much as I could and wait until the quarter pole to make my move," said Amis Gizmo's jockey, Luis Contreras. "They just got me at the end. He was fighting back. He pinned his ears back and kept running, but the winner had a little bit more."
It didn't take long for Ken Ramsey to commit to the rest of the series. The Prince of Wales Stakes on dirt is July 26 at Fort Erie Race Track and the Breeders' Stakes is at Woodbine on the turf Aug. 21.
"You can quote me. We're going for the Triple Crown," Ken Ramsey said. "We think this horse can run on glass, Polytrack, dirt, you name it."
Second-place Plate Trial finisher Shakhimat set the pace, clicking off fractions of :24.14, :49.92, and 1:14.79 through six furlongs, but tired to fifth, followed by Leavem in Malibu, Gamble's Ghost, Rocket Plan, Cheburashka, Narrow Escape, Esposito, My Name Is Jim, and Mike to complete the order of finish.
Bred in Ontario by Bernard and Karen McCormack, it took Sir Dudley Digges seven starts to break his maiden, and his Plate Trial placing was his first race against winners. He has a 2-3-3 record from nine starts and became the first black-type stakes winner for his sire, Gio Ponti.