Alnilah put an end to multiple graded stakes winner Summer Sunday’s Woodbine win streak as she defeated the heavy favourite in the Grade 3 Seaway Stakes.
Despite missing the break and trailing the field early on, jockey Patrick Husbands worked out the winning trip in the $125,000 seven-furlong fillies and mares feature aboard the five-year-old Smart Strike mare for trainer Terry Jordan and owner/breeder Canvasback Farms.
Summer Sunday was riding a three-race win streak in stakes action and entered the Seaway with a perfect seven-for-seven record at the Toronto oval. The 4-5 favourite quickly established the lead as the fillies and mares settled into stride with second choice Katie Baby and Devine Mischief pressing the pace through opening panels of :23.79 and :46.96. She kicked clear of those foes off the turn, but Husbands had maneuvered Alnilah into contention after getting her to relax following the misfire from the gate and they blew by Summer Sunday in the final furlong to win by a widening 4-1/2 lengths in 1:24.39.
“Throughout the whole race, she was relaxed behind there and I had so much horse,” said Husbands, who had shown a magnificent display of athleticism getting his feet in the irons as the gates sprung open and progressed inside before launching their impressive stretch rally. “I just told myself, I’m not going around – any little hole I can take – and that’s what I did.”
Sent postward at odds of 6-1, the first-time stakes winner returned $15.30 to her backers at the betting windows. Summer Sunday finished second and Katie Baby was third.
Husbands was aboard Alnilah for the first time, but had followed her career closely. “I was always following her, I always loved her,” he said.
When the chestnut mare moved into Jordan’s care over a month ago with the Canvasback Farms contingent, Husbands made his case.
“Patrick came to me and said to me, ‘Terry, please let me on that horse.’ He said, ‘I’m dying to ride this horse,’” said Jordan. “I said, ‘Ok, you got her.’ When somebody comes and says as convincing as he was that he wanted to ride her, you do it.”
That decision landed the multiple graded stakes-winning trainer back in Woodbine’s winner’s circle for the first time in seven years and was a welcome surprise.
“I didn’t think we could beat the two-horse [Summer Sunday],” admitted Jordan. “I used to train the mother of that one [Dancing Allstar], and the mother of this one [Tribal Belle]. They’re both Sovereign winners here, I had them both here, so it was nice to get one of the offspring back.”
Alnilah, who was previously trained by Danny O’Callaghan and had finished third behind Summer Sunday and Katie Baby in the Grade 3 Hendrie two starts back on June 9, now sports a career record reading 4-4-2 from 16 starts with earnings soaring over the $300,000 mark.
Live Thoroughbred racing resumes on Wednesday evening featuring a star-studded Canadian Millions Sales Stakes Night with more than $750,000 in purses up for grabs. Two-time Kenora Stakes winner Pink Lloyd will be looking to extend his own stakes win streak to five for Hall of Fame trainer Robert Tiller and the Entourage Stable. First race post time is set for 6:45 p.m.