Awesome Fire, under a brilliant ride from Chantal Sutherland, unleashed her closing kick rounding the far turn and overcame traffic problems en route to a game half-length victory in the $249,599 Wonder Where Stakes at Woodbine July 29 (VIDEO).
The daughter of Strong Contender ─Awesome Lass, by Awesome Again , races for Urban Fire Corp., owned by Sutherland's brother, Hugh Sutherland. Chantal Sutherland was formerly based in Canada but not competes on the Southern California circuit.
The Wonder Where is the final leg of Canada's Triple Tiara for 3-year-old fillies.
Awesome Fire was settled at the back of the nine-horse field as 8-5 favorite Dene Court took them through pedestrian fractions of :25.03, :49.44, and 1:14.56 for the first three-quarters of a mile in the 1 1/4-mile turf test.
Black Bird Rock, who had been tracking in third just behind the leader and stalker Point of Emminence, challenged, with Black Bird Rock taking the lead at the quarter pole. Black Bird Rock had a half-length lead in the stretch over Lateegra.
Awesome Fire, meanwhile, had closed quickly while three-wide on the turn, but was blocked in midstretch while fourth before finding enough daylight to hit the wire in front in final time of 2:04.12, well off the course record of 2:00.60.
The winner paid $18.80, $8.90, and $5.20, as Lateegra, a 53-1 longshot who made a bid in the stretch before being overtaken, returned $27.90 and $8.70. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Black Bird Rock, returning $5.60. The exacta was worth $680.30 and the trifecta paid $3,398.30.
Awesome Fire is trained by Nick Gonzalez.
“She was really responsive,” said Chantal Sutherland. “When I hit the three-eighths, I really asked her, and she started to run. When I got on her last year, she was a little more nervous. She was really calm today.”
Owner Hugh Sutherland was thrilled with the effort of his sister to relax Awesome Fire after breaking outward at the start.
“She’s the real deal,” he said. “I thought we were stuck in the gate. I thought it was all over. Chantal pulled it out of her hat again.”
“The filly has come a long way since last fall,” said Gonzalez. “She really turned the corner for us. There was a question whether she would take to the turf or not, we knew the distance wouldn’t be a problem. It all worked out well.”
Bred in Ontario by Spring Farm, Awesome Fire has won three of 10 starts. Previous to the Wonder Where, the 3-year-old filly finished third in the Woodbine Oaks and had finished fourth in the Bison City Stakes, both over the Polytrack main surface at Woodbine.