Aheadbyacentury pulled ahead of his rivals by two lengths in an impressive stretch run to close out his two-year-old campaign with a victory in the 114th running of the $225,000 Coronation Futurity for Canadian-breds on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
As Wedgewood crossed to command before the first turn over even-money favourite Kitten’s Boy, jockey Rafael Hernandez had Aheadbyacentury perfectly positioned outside behind the quick-leaving Cooler Mike.
Wedgewood set first-half fractions of :25.04 and :50.04 before Cooler Mike went head-to-head with him through three-quarters in 1:13.98 and gained the advantage turning for home. However, Kitten’s Boy came through down the stretch to his inside while Aheadbyacentury launched outside. With a powerful late kick, Aheadbyacentury went on to win the 1-1/8 mile Canadian classic in 1:51.02.
Neepawa came on to edge out Kitten’s Boy in a photo finish for second after a ground-saving trip behind that rival.
“As soon as I put him clear and asked him to go, he’s just push-button, he just started running his race,” said Hernandez of Aheadbyacentury’s closing kick after getting the colt to relax in the early stages of the race.
Trainer and co-owner John Ross praised Hernandez’s winning ride aboard the son of Midnight Lute and Sinful.
“He did a fantastic job,” said Ross. “He was a little bit sharp – I see he kind of had a tight hold on him – but he got the horse to bring his head down and relax into a beautiful stride and he put him in kind of what I say is ‘the garden spot.’ I was loving everything he was doing. If I had him on remote control, l would have done the same thing.”
Ross noted he was particularly happy with the way Aheadbyacentury finished up the race to earn his second straight victory following a maiden-breaking score over 1-1/16 miles on October 1.
“This is his game, going long,” he said. “We were looking forward to going long. The first time we ran him long, we were excited to see him finally get there. We’re very, very happy with him.”
Bred in Ontario by Hill ‘N’ Dale Farms, Aheadbyacentury is owned by Ross’s J.R. Racing Stable and Jack of Hearts Racing. He completed his freshman season with two wins from four starts and almost $190,000 in earnings.
“We’ve always dreamed of having a two-year-old finish up the year like this so we’re going to put him away for the year and send him to Florida to give him a great winter and certainly look after him well,” said Ross.
Sent postward as the 6-1 fourth choice on the toteboard, Aheadbyacentury paid $14.40, $6.80 and $3. He combined with Neepawa ($6, $4) for a 4-5 exacta worth $84.40. A $1 trifecta of 4-5-1 (Kitten’s Boy, $2.30) paid $117.30 and a $1 superfecta of 4-5-1-7 (Cooler Mike) returned $311.35. Flight Deck, Wedgewood, Crumlin Night and Bobby’s Escape completed the field. Theregoesjojo was scratched.
The Coronation Futurity is considered a stepping-stone to the Queen’s Plate and, with the victory, Aheadbyacentury stamped himself as a top contender for the 2017 edition. The last horse to win the Coronation Futurity and the Queen’s Plate was the Roger Attfield-trained Norcliffe, who achieved the feat in 1975-76.