Thomas Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth's Tower of Texas returned to the winner's circle for the first time in more than 23 months June 3 with the slightest of victories in the $175,000 Connaught Cup Stakes (G2T) at Woodbine.
The 6-year-old Street Sense gelding, who made his first start since a 10th-place run in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1T) at Keeneland in October, made a closing bid from sixth with Calgary Cat in the stretch, as both tried to corral runaway leader Commute.
Under jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva, Tower of Texas just got his nose in front at the wire to edge Commute, who skipped away from the field in the turn of the seven-furlong turf sprint and had a clear lead at the top of the stretch.
"It was very competitive. You saw the finish, but this horse has a big heart," da Silva said. "He fought the entire stretch and all he wanted to do was catch the horse in front. I was riding him and whipping him, but not with much power, because he is giving everything he (had)."
Tower of Texas hit the wire in 1:19.40 after the opening fractions went in :22.92 and :44.95. Morning line favorite Take the Stand led early on, but was soon after swallowed up by Commute, who took clear command after a half-mile. The early stretch leader tired as he neared the wire, however, but still nearly held on to win and finished a head in front of Calgary Cat.
It was the first win for Tower of Texas since the King Edward Stakes (G2T) in June of 2015, but during that span he had five seconds—all by less than a length—including a half-length defeat to Tepin in the 2016 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (G1T).
"He's a lovely horse. He really is," said winning trainer Roger Attfield. "He's so competitive. He got hurt two years in a row and went back to the farm in Kentucky. This last year I thought was probably the last time I'd see him, but back he came in the spring ... and he trained really, really well for this race.
"You know, obviously, you have to put some training in to come back first time out in a stakes like that and he took it all and was ready to go today."
Bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms and Rod Ferguson, out of the Danzig Connection mare Rare Opportunity, Tower of Texas now has a 5-8-3 record from 21 starts with $703,956 in earnings.