Code Warrior wins the Hendrie Stakes at Woodbine

Code Warrior wins the Hendrie Stakes at Woodbine

Michael Burns

Code Warrior Leads the Way to Repeat Hendrie Stakes

Zilli Racing Stables' new acquisition paid well June 10.

Last year's Hendrie Stakes (G3) winner returned in style, when Zilli Racing Stables' Code Warrior put in a frontrunning effort to successfully defend her title in the June 10 Woodbine stakes.

With a field of seven older fillies and mares going to post in the $125,000 race over 6 1/2 furlongs of Woodbine's all-weather course, Code Warrior was not among the top choices, but her 10-1 morning-line odds were bet down to 6-1 when the gates opened.

Leaving the gate, the 5-year-old daughter of Society's Chairman  was sent to the lead early by jockey Luis Contreras and set fractions of :23.77 and :47 through a half-mile. The Michael De Paulo trainee rolled off the turn and put more distance between herself and the rest of the field.

Favorite Let It Ride Mom, her only challenger in the stretch, gave an all-out drive to cut the distance to three-quarters of a length at the wire. Code Warrior posted a final time of 1:16.75 and returned $14.20 to win. Second choice Moonlit Promise finished another 1 1/2 lengths behind Let It Ride Mom for third.

"I was very comfortable. She feels great on the lead," Contreras said of his winning trip. "Mike told me in the paddock just to get her to relax. She doesn't need to be on the lead, but if nobody wants the lead and I feel comfortable, then just take it from there.

"I was a little bit surprised there wasn't a little more pressure, but I'm so happy right now."

Bred in Florida by Pamela Edel, Code Warrior is out of the Runaway Groom mare Lady Natalie. Robert Marzilli of Zilli Racing went to $190,000 for Code Warrior when she was consigned as a 4-year-old racing or broodmare prospect by ELiTE to the Keeneland November sale.

Code Warrior ended her 2017 season for her previous connections with a third in the six-furlong Ontario Fashion Stakes (G3) at Woodbine. After the sale, she began 2018 with a score in the Jan. 1 Abundantia Stakes over Gulfstream Park's turf course. She then finished sixth at the Florida track's Ladies' Turf Sprint Stakes before heading back to Woodbine, where she was runner-up to fellow Hendrie runner Scotty's Model in the May 20 Ballade Stakes, her most recent outing.

"She might have been a work short for her last race, but that certainly tightened her up for today," De Paulo said. "I was hoping Luis wasn't listening to my instructions. We went to the lead last time, and I thought if we could sit a little off it, that might be perfect. But when I saw the fractions, I said, 'Attaboy Luis, go on with it!"

The Hendrie win brought Code Warrior's record to 6-4-3 from 19 starts and her earnings to $344,358.