Marsh Side proved a popular five-length winner of the $243,047 Sky Classic Stakes (Can-IIT) (VIDEO) Aug. 22 on the Woodbine turf course, where Robert S. Evans' homebred has recorded the biggest wins of his career for trainer Neil Drysdale.
Ridden in the rain by Edgar Prado, the 7-year-old son of Gone West overtook pacesetter Casual Dude in upper stretch and drew away from Windward Islands through the lane to win easily as the 3-5 favorite. He won for the first time in five starts at 10 furlongs. The final time was 2:08.99 on a soft turf course.
Marsh Side captured last year's Northern Dancer Stakes (Can-1T), his most recent victory 11 months ago, and the 2008 Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT), both at 12 furlongs on the Woodbine grass. The dark bay or brown horse has earned $2,107,425 at the Toronto track.
Marsh Side was entered in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) the previous day, but scratched in favor of the Sky Classic. Racing manager Patrick Lawley-Wakelin expects Marsh Side to return to Woodbine in the near future.
“It’s amazing,” Lawley-Wakelin said. “For some unknown reason, when he gets to Woodbine, he just changes into a different horse. He relaxes. He just loves being here.
“He’ll go back to California and we’ll talk to Neil. I would say the Northern Dancer (Sept. 19) is definitely on our schedule.”
Spice Route, second choice in the field on the morning line, was a stewards' scratch, leaving a field of six.
Casual Dude set a reserved pace (:27.50, :53.40, 1:18.71) while maintaining a half-length edge over Marsh Side, who was poised on the outside while in hand for Prado. Marsh Side advanced to even terms rounding the final turn and grabbed the lead in upper stretch. Leading by two lengths at the eighth pole, he widened his advantage under a brisk hand ride.
Prado figured Marsh Side would be tough to beat.
"It looked as though there was not much speed in the race,” said Prado, who gave Marsh Side his first win in four tries in 2010. “All I had to do was help him a little bit out of the gate and then let him do his thing. He’s an old pro and he knows the track. He was having a lot of fun out there.”
Second choice Windward Islands, stalking toward the inside for Chantal Sutherland, bid between Casual Dude and Marsh Side in upper stretch. He was no match for the winner while finishing two lengths clear of Your Round and Patrick Husbands in third.
Bred in Kentucky by Evans, Marsh Side is out of Colonial Play, by Pleasant Colony. Winning for the seventh time in 29 races, the veteran campaigner boosted his career earnings to $2,502,900 with the Sky Classic's winning purse of $143,025. He ran fourth in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his prior start July 17, his first race since March 6.
Marsh Side carried 117 pounds and paid $3.30, $2.20, and $2.10, keying a $5.70 exacta. Windward Islands, 3 1/2-length winner of the Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT) on a yielding course in his last start July 24, returned $2.60 and $2.10 as the 123-pound high weight. Your Round paid $3 to show.