Richard S. Kaster and Frederick C. Wieting's Excaper outdueled defending champ Something Extra to capture a thrilling renewal of Saturday's $200,800 Connaught Cup, at Woodbine.
Excaper, expertly ridden by Justin Stein for trainer Ian Black, tracked the speed of two-time Connaught Cup champ Something Extra before taking command at the head of the lane and prevailing in an all-out drive by half a length.
The duo separated themselves from the nine-horse field in the early running of the seven furlong turf tilt with quick splits of :22.23 and :44.62 and kept on going as Excaper stopped the clock in 1:19.53, just .15 off the course record set in 2004 by Soaring Free. Laugh Track closed to be third, a length in front of Mr. Online.
Leaving from the inside post, Stein had expected to be the pacesetter over a firm E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
“I was worried about the one-hole. Standing there for so long they can get pretty relaxed and sometimes they don't break quite as sharp,” said Stein. “The six-horse (Something Extra) broke on top and I had to change strategies pretty quick. I wanted to be on the lead, but it worked out.”
Stein was full of praise for his rival, Something Extra, who had won the previous two runnings of the Connaught Cup.
“He had me worried. I have a lot of respect for that horse the way he ran today,” said Stein. “He dug in and we went by him by a long neck and then he started coming back. He got within our throatlatch and then my horse just found an extra gear.”
The victory marked the first stakes score for Excaper in his 13th attempt, although the talented grey son of Exchange Rate-Ada Ruckus did hit the board in seven of those starts.
With his score in the Connaught Cup, Excaper banked $120,000 while improving his career record to 5-6-1 from 17 starts.
He returned $13.10, $6 and $3.80, pairing with Something Extra ($5, $3.30) for a $49.50 (1-6) exactor. A 1-6-2 (Laugh Track, $4.70 to show) triactor was worth $268.10. Mr. Online completed a $1 Superfecta (1-6-2-7) worth $608.75.
View the full Equibase chart here.
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