Mr Havercamp provided owner/breeder Sean Fitzhenry with a graded stakes victory for his birthday on Saturday as the four-year-old Court Vision gelding took the $175,000 Play the King Stakes (Grade 2) over seven furlongs on Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Sent postward as the 4-5 favourite, Mr Havercamp navigated a yielding turf and came through between horses late to score the victory under the guidance of Woodbine's meet-leading jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva.
Already a graded stakes winner, 2-1 second choice La Sardane was riding a three-race win streak into his Woodbine debut and charged out for the lead from the inside post. He led the field through a quarter in :23.92 and half in :47.59 while Boreal Spirit stalked outside early on.
Caught behind horses turning for home, Mr Havercamp emerged with the lead down the stretch as the field spread across the track and he surged ahead to score in 1:23.94 by 2-1/2 lengths.
Vanish came from last and edged out fellow closer Sweet Little Man and Holding Gold in a photo for place. La Sardane and Boreal Spirit rounded out the field scratched down to six.
“It was pretty tight,” said Da Silva of his opening in the stretch. “When you have so much horse you just have to wait for the opportunity to come and he just did everything himself. He's just a very, very nice horse and when you need him, he's there for you. He's a wonderful horse to ride.”
“I knew he had a ton of horse and I just hoped he would get through. I felt he would get through and luckily, he did,” said trainer Catherine Day Phillips, who was pleased to see Mr Havercamp handle the unfamiliar track conditions resulting from Saturday's rain showers.
“It's an unknown factor, he's never run on a soft turf, and so I don't like unknowns. I was confident in him on a regular turf, so it was a new element in his racing, but he handled it.”
Following the victory, Day Phillips confirmed Mr Havercamp will be pointed towards the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, scheduled for September 15.
Owned by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry, Mr Havercamp boasts a perfect four-for-four record racing on Woodbine's turf course. The multiple stakes champion, who was back on home turf after a fourth-place finish in the Forbidden Apple Stakes at Belmont Park, has now won six of his nine starts overall for more than $350,000 in purse earnings.
Mr Havercamp was the 4-5 favourite and paid $3.80, $2,70 and $2.20. He combined with Vanish ($16.50, $5.10) for a 4-5 exacta worth $62.80. Sweet Little Man ($3.30) completed the 4-5-2 trifecta, which paid $104.80 for a $1 ticket. The 4-5-2-8 superfecta returned $205.85.
Sweet Grass Creek, White Flag and Yorkton were scratched.
Live Thoroughbred racing continues at Woodbine on Sunday, featuring the $100,000 Soaring Free Stakes and $125,000 Seaway Stakes (Grade 3). First race post time is 1 p.m.
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