King and His Court, under a ground saving trip by Gary Boulanger, zipped up the rail to defeat stablemate State of Honor in Sunday's $250,400 Coronation Futurity, at Woodbine.
Trained by Mark Casse, the Court Vision bay was a recent private purchase for Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable from former owner-trainer Alexander Patykewich.
King and His Court arrived at the 1 1/8-mile Tapeta test for Canadian-bred juveniles from a third-place run in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes on October 9.
Fellow Casse trainee State of Honor, with Patrick Husbands up, led a field of nine through splits of :24.28 and :48.84 with Guy Caballero and a rail-skimming Tidal Dancer keeping close watch. Boulanger settled King and His Court into sixth position down the back straight and waited patiently as State of Honor led the field into the final turn.
Tidal Dancer, piloted by Alan Garcia, angled off the rail late in the turn to take aim at the pacesetter while Boulanger urged King and His Court into the vacated path and rallied strongly along the rail to win going away by 2 1/4-lengths. State of Honor stayed on gamely for place, 1 ¾-lengths in front of a late running Escondera. King and His Court covered nine furlongs in 1:50.76.
Boulanger was piloting King and His Court for the first time in the afternoon, but noted the benefit of a recent morning work in company.
“He worked really smart that day. I don't know who he was working with, but he wouldn't let them by and the gallop out was there. He just did everything I asked,” said Boulanger.
The victory marked the seventh stakes win of the meet for Boulanger who was pleased with the response from King and His Court when asked.
“I had a great trip,” said Boulanger. “Patrick (Husbands, State of Honor) and Alan Garcia (Tidal Dancer) was in front of me and I was just tracking them. When Alan made a move in the turn I followed him. He fanned out and I didn't want to split horses and when the rail opened up, I asked him and he was push button. I hit the button and he was gone.”
Assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan credited King and His Court's former trainer for his efforts with the improving gelding through seven previous starts that included a maiden score along with third-place runs in both the Colin and Grey Stakes.
“This horse came to us in great order from Mr. Patykewich and we just put on the tack and he ran away,” said Sullivan. “Mr. Barber and Mr. Wachtel know racehorses. They saw a good horse and they made a good buy.”
In victory, King and His Court has stamped himself a potential favourite for the 2017 Queen's Plate. The last horse to win the Coronation Futurity and then the Queen's Plate was the Roger Attfield-trained Norcliffe, who achieved the feat in 1975-76.
King and His Court, bred in Ontario by Patricia Weber and Robert Weber, banked $150,000 in victory while improving his record to 2-0-4 from eight starts.
He paid $7.30, $5 and $3.60, combining with State of Honor ($6.50, $4.50) for a $40.60 (4-2) exacta. A 4-2-6 trifecta (Escondera, $5.10 to show) was worth $210.30, while a $1 Superfecta [4-2-6-1 (Tidal Dancer)] came back $397.55.
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