Wet Your Whistle, a 4-year-old son of Stroll, struts into Saturday's Grade 1 $300,000 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine in Toronto, Canada, in excellent form.
Trained by Michael Trombetta, the dark bay is at the top of his game heading into the six-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.
Riding a three-race win streak, including a monster performance in the Get Serious Stakes at Monmouth Park in May, Wet Your Whistle's connections are viewing things as much more than a half glass full heading into the Highlander.
“He's training very well,” said Trombetta, of the four-time winner from 10 starts, owned by David Palmer. “His first two races back this season have been so good that we figured we'll take a shot here.”
Breaking his maiden at first asking last July at Laurel Park, Wet Your Whistle went a long time between drinks, winning his last race of 2018 after six starts.
The curtain-closing score of his 3-year-old campaign came at Woodbine, an 8 ¼-length romp at seven furlongs on the Toronto main track.
In his return to the races this April, a 5 ½-furlong test on the Laurel Park turf, Wet Your Whistle, the 5-2 second choice on the toteboard, rallied to win by three lengths over 'firm' going.
But it was the effort in the Get Serious, which seriously caught the attention of Trombetta.
“We put him away on a really good note last year,” said the veteran trainer. “We freshened him up and when he came back in the allowance race at Laurel, it was really good. Then the turf race back at Monmouth – that was a really good race.”
The multiple graded stakes winning conditioner, with 1,760 career wins, is still impressed by that 3 ¼-length head-turner.
“He won in good fashion and he was drawing away a little bit at the end, which is something you'd really like to see in those races and he did it,” said Trombetta. “He looks like he'll do either surface really well. We'll see where he takes us.”
Part of stellar stakes-stacked card of racing on Saturday, the Highlander drew nine horses vying for the six-figure first prize.
Caribou Club, a multiple graded stakes winner, took last year's Grade 2 Connaught Cup at Woodbine. Detroit Steel, a son of Fastnet Rock, has eight top-three finishes from 25 starts. Sam-Son Farm's El Tormenta heads into the Highlander off a win in this year's Grade 2 Connaught Cup. Extravagant Kid, a graded stakes placed 10-time winner, has finished second in the past two Jacques Cartier Stakes. Tricks to Doo has seven top-three finishes from 10 starts, including three wins. White Flag, trained by Christophe Clement, has five wins, two seconds and three thirds from 14 starts. Supplement Souper Smart has two wins and two seconds from seven starts for Live Oak Plantation. Yorkton, a six-time winner and earner of more than $550,000 for Chiefswood Stable, rounds out the field.
The Highlander Stakes was first run in 1954. Six horses have won the race twice since 1976 with Sam-Son Farm winning it six times as an owner and both jockey Todd Kabel and trainer Lou Cavalaris winning it four times each.
Last year, Virginia-bred Long On Value ($6.70) won the Highlander by a neck.
The Highlander is race nine on the 13-race card prior to the featured $1 million Queen's Plate. First race post is 12 p.m.
FIELD FOR THE $300,000 HIGHLANDER
POST – HORSE – JOCKEY – TRAINER
1 – Extravagant Kid – Rafael Hernandez – Brendan Walsh
2 – Caribou Club – Drayden Van Dyke – Tom Proctor
3 – El Tormenta – Luis Contreras – Gail Cox
4 – Souper Smart – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Mark Casse
5 – Detroit Steel – Justin Stein – Clint Abraham
6 – Tricks to Doo – Junior Alvarado – Arnaud Delacour
7 – Wet Tour Whistle – Alex Cintron – Michael Trombetta
8 – White Flag – Javier Castellano – Christopher Clement
9 – Yorkton – Jesse Campbell – Stuart Simon
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