It wasn't the smoothest of starts, but it was a stellar finish for King and His Court, who came from last to take Saturday's $125,000 Display Stakes at Woodbine.
Conditioned by Mark Casse for owners Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable, the Court Vision dark bay was bumped by stablemate Vanish – also a Casse trainee – at the start of the 1 1/16-mile main track feature for two-year-olds, but soon after settled nicely for jockey Gary Boulanger.
It was yet another Casse starter, Flowmotion, who set early splits of :24.91 and :49.76 with longshot Pachi Cruze pressing the pace.
Vanish loomed a strong threat to the outside, while King and His Court sat behind horses as the tightly-bunched field rounded the final turn. Boulanger was finally able to find daylight and the duo seized advantage late to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
A determined Flowmotion held on gamely for second, while Guy Caballero edged out Vanish for third, denying Casse a one, two, three finish.
The final time was 1:45.10.
Boulanger was thrilled with the gutsy effort of King and His Court, who came into the Display in regal form, having won the Coronation Futurity, a key two-year-old event on the road to the 2017 Queen's Plate.
“He actually got bumped by the seven horse (Vanish) who broke out into him,” noted the veteran jockey. “From there, I'm just trying to save as much ground. I had a really tight trip the whole way. He showed a lot of character and a lot of try today. He's not scared of anything. He's a tremendous little horse.”
Assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan also praised the performance of the gelding, who now has three wins and four thirds from nine career starts.
“He's done amazing things,” she said. “That's a great way to end of the year, with your two-year-olds doing well.”
It's also been another outstanding year for Casse, to say the least.
Not only will he top the Woodbine leaderboard in wins and earnings again, but the multiple Sovereign Award-winning conditioner, who came into the day with 95 scores at the Toronto oval, is also making his mark in the North American standings.
Heading into Saturday's action, Casse had a career-best 225 wins, slotting him in the top five, while his $17 million-plus in purse earnings puts him third behind Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher.
King and His Court now figures to be near the top of any contenders list for 158th Queen's Plate, set for July 2, 2017.
Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval won the 1988 Display Stakes en route to his 1989 sweep.
King and His Court paid $5.30, $3.30 and $2.70, combining with Flowmotion ($7.50, $6) for a $42.20 exactor. An 8-4-2 triactor (Guy Caballero, $4.70 to show) was worth $218.40, while a $1 Superfecta [8-4-2-7 (Vanish)] came back $359.40.
Woodbine's final card of the 2016 season gets out of the gates on Sunday with a first race post of 1:00 p.m.
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