Ivan Dalos' homebred Ami's Holiday collared leaders Interpol and Squeeze the King in deep stretch to win the 124th running of the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, the third jewel in Canada's Triple Crown, Sunday at Woodbine.
By doing so, the son of Harlan's Holiday completed his own unique triactor, after finishing second to Lexie Lou in the Queen's Plate on July 6, then third to Coltimus Prime in the Prince of Wales on July 29. He was the only horse to compete in all three legs of the series for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.
Both the Plate and Prince of Wales were troubled trips, but on Sunday, it was clear sailing, as jockey Luis Contreras and Ami's Holiday came from mid-pack in the mile and one-half turf classic, knifed their way between the leaders inside the eighth pole and inched away for the three-quarter length score in 2:30.12.
Interpol, one of three maidens in the 12-horse field, battled to the wire but was second best, while Squeeze the King, in only his third career start, tired slightly after leading the field into the stretch to finish third.
For Ami's Holiday, the only stakes winner in the field and far and away its leading money winner, the Breeders' was his turf debut but he may have tipped his hand last Sunday, with a bullet five furlong workout in 59 1/5 seconds, enough to give his trainer Josie Carroll confidence to run, after initially thinking about giving one of her stable stars a brief rest.
The victory capped quite a weekend for Carroll and Contreras, who also teamed to win the Sky Classic on Saturday with Karibu Gardens. It was the first Breeders' win for Carroll, who is the only female trainer to win the Plate, not once, but twice (Edenwold, 2006; Inglorious, 2011) and the first Breeders' win for Dalos. But it was the second for Contreras, who took the 2011 renewal aboard Pender Harbour, who, like Ami's Holiday, made a winning turf debut in the Breeders'.
“I think it speaks a lot for this horse,” said Carroll. “We talk a lot about horses not having the constitution that they used to, but this is the culmination of a breeding program by Mr. Dalos interjecting stamina into a race horse. He was a little tired after the Prince of Wales, shipping down (to Fort Erie), shipping home. He just lit it up (in his turf work). He just came to life.”
While Ami's Holiday and Unikat went postward the co-favourites at 2-1 on the board, the result couldn't have been more contrasting. While Ami's Holiday prevailed, Unikat, after being forwardly placed by jockey David Moran, faded through the lane to finish last.
“Third time was the good one,” said Contreras. “I'm so happy with this horse. He just does a tremendous job all the time. I got a pretty clean trip. I was sitting behind the speed, I wanted to keep him with the other horses to keep him busy. I know my horse is very brave, he's been in trouble before. He was going great (when we came between the other horses). He just galloped. He had a tremendous kick at the end.”
Big Red Bugsy, East Side and Interpol loped along in front early in the race, through fractions of :25.18, :50.74 and 1:16.18 and 1:41.
Suddenly Squeeze the King made a bold move with jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva from fourth heading around the far turn, and briefly took over with a quarter-mile to go as the field straightened away for the charge down the lengthy E.P. Taylor Turf Course stretch.
But Interpol did not go away, then Ami's Holiday suddenly loomed on the scene between them, before drawing off late.
Ami's Holiday earned $300,000 for the win to push his career bankroll to over $770,000. Last year he won the Grade 3 Grey Stakes among his four starts. But this year, he was winless in four previous outings, but never worse than fourth, with two seconds and a third as well. Said Dalos, who also bred 1998 Belmont winner Victory Gallop, “He just needed a clean ride once to do it and finally he got one.”
Ami's Holiday is a product of Harlan's Holiday, who won over $3.6 million, but never raced on grass, out of Dalos' Victorious Ami, who won the rich Princess Elizabeth Stakes on dirt at Woodbine in 2004.
Said jockey Jesse Campbell, aboard the 18-1 runner-up, Interpol, “It was a perfect trip. He broke clean. He was forwardly placed and got to cruising to a nice spot, third, on the outside. He was a little rank at first, but on the backside he relaxed. He ran huge. He was getting tired in the end, but he kept hanging in there. He ran so hard. You have to be proud of him. The best horse won the race. I'm tickled to run second.”
As the official second choice, Ami's Holiday paid $6.70, $3.80 and $2.80, combining with Interpol ($11.50, $8.40) for a $113.20 (8-12) exactor. An 8-12-4 (Squeeze the King, $6.40) triactor was worth $791.40 while a $1 Superfecta [8-12-4-7 (Bangkok)] lit up the toteboard with a $3,868.90 payoff.
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