Le Cinquieme Essai, with Steve Bahen aboard, held off longshot Tusayan down the stretch, to capture the $150,400 Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-III) Sunday at Woodbine.
The 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup, the first turf stakes race in 2005 on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, went off with six horses after the scratch of last year's Charlie Barley Stakes champion Dalavin.
William Scott's Le Cinquieme Essai, the second choice, avenged a narrow nose loss to Slew Valley in last year's Connaught Cup. The son of Fastness posted a half-length triumph in a quick 1:40 3/5.
Le Cinquieme Essai tracked outside of early leader Burst of Fire, who went immediately to the front, posting fractions of :23.83 for the quarter and :46.65 for the half-mile.
Things heated up around the far turn, as the pacesetter was joined by Le Cinquieme Essai in the middle and Tusayan on the outside, when they straightened away for the long stretch run after getting six furlongs in 1:10.76.
In an all-out battle to the wire, 6-year-old Le Cinquieme Essai, whose last start was a victory in the Labeeb Stakes on Nov. 4 at the Toronto oval, was able to maintain a slight margin over Tusayan.
"I was trying to get him to stay a little bit off the pace," said Bahen of the Ontario-bred gelding. "Today, he rated very nicely. He was very relaxed and he was happy doing what he was doing. He punched on when I called on him."
Le Cinquieme Essai was Canada's champion 3-year-old in 2002.
In 2004, the chestnut won three times from six starts, along with two seconds and a third. Overall, the Paul Nielsen trainee has nine wins from 20 career starts. With the winner's share of $90,000, Le Cinquieme Essai's bankroll now stands at $804,683.
Silver Ticket, sent off as the slight favorite, wound up third, edging Sam-Son stablemate, Burst of Fire.
Le Cinquieme Essai paid $5.50, $3.50, and $2.50, combining with Tusayan ($9.80, $4.60) for a $56.80 exacta. Silver Ticket was $2.30 to show.