Two riders who had super strategic tactics were paid well for their efforts Saturday at Woodbine in the two richest races for juveniles foaled in Canada. The $250,000 Coronation Futurity and $250,0000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes highlighted a sunny and brisk November afternoon at Woodbine
ESWAN FLORES, who joined the Woodbine rider colony in 2021, put his speedy mount BABBO on the lead as was predicted and nursed him along through 1 1/8 miles and the bay colt by Kantharos – Calling Rhy Rhy by City Zip, powered along to win by 2 1/2 lengths at odds of 5-to-1.
This was the biggest win for Flores in his 12-year career, at least purse and prestige-wise. He won the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes last year and has won stakes on the west coast, but no race as noted as this Coronation Futurity, which often sets a horse up for the Canadian Triple Crown the following year.
“Sid’s been doing a heck of a job training this horse and I am grateful to be a part of it. I appreciate everybody who has played a part in this horse.”
Babbo, owned by Lou Tucci, a longtime owner at Woodbine under Tucci Stables, won his maiden at 6 furlongs on turf Oct. 1 in his fourth career start. He won again on a speed-favouring track Nov. 4 at seven furlongs and had come back to work 6 furlongs in a strong 1:13 breezing on Nov. 18.
“I was worried, he has shown a lot of speed in the past,” said Flores. “I didn’t want to go too quick, but he was able to relax and was very professional throughout the whole race.”
The final time was 1:52.06.
“He ran the seven-eighths easy,” said Tucci of Babbo’s four-length win on November 4. “He reminded me of Midnight Aria (Tucci’s 2013 Queen’s Plate winner), he liked to take the lead and not give it up.”
Babbo is named for the father of Tucci’s partner, Alberta, and he was in the winner’s circle celebrating with his daughter and family.
Attard, in search of his first King’s Plate triumph, won the 2007 Coronation Futurity with Kesagami and the 2011 edition with Maritimer.
Bred by the late Robert Harvey, Babbo was a $95,000 (U.S.) purchase at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale. Harvey bred and raced Calling Rhy Rhy, named after his granddaughter. Calling Rhy Rhy was a sprinting stakes winner of $23,150 and a half-sister to other speedy stakes winners Bickerson and D’Oro Diablo.
Babbo is the third foal for Calling Rhy Rhy. Her second foal is Vice Regent Stakes winner Outlaw Kid, who has won four of 11 races and $283,275 and is a confirmed sprinter.
“We do miss Bob Harvey and if he’s up there, I’m sure he put a nice bet on him today,” said Tucci.
In the very next race, the Princess Elizabeth, trainer Sid Attard’s nephew Kevin Attard just about celebrated a dead heat between two of his starters in the 1 1/16 mile race for juvenile fillies.
While shorter than the Coronation, the early pace was more contested in the Princess Elizabeth as South Ocean Stakes winner Olivia Rose, owned by Gabe Grossberg, and Sounds Practical were eager to battle early.
Well back and on the rail was the maiden INUDATION, ridden by Leo Salles, who began riding to Woodbine in 2018 after tours of many international tracks. The Brazilian had ridden Inudation in her latest when second in a maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles and Al and Bill Ulwelling’s filly was adding Lasix for her first stakes start.
Salles let his filly advance along the rail around the final turn but by that time, Canuck Racing Club’s top filly WAR PAINTER had flown around fillies and opened up a big lead in the stretch under Patrick Husbands. War Painter surely had the race won but Inudation (Collected – Tidal Surge by Bernardini) kept motoring up the rail, landed in a photo and was declared the winner.
War Painter, trained by Kevin for the brand-new Canuck Racing Club lost a tough one as the Victorian Queen Stakes winner likely would have had a strong chance to win the Sovereign Award for Champion two-year-old filly with the win.
Perhaps the most miraculous run of the race was that of MORE MONEY HUNNY (Mendelssohn), who stumbled very badly at the break, trailed by almost 17 lengths and then flew up the rail to get third under Luis Contreras. Hurricane Clair finished fourth but her erratic run from the turn led to her disqualification and Bravo Kate was moved up to fourth for Spruce Park Stable.
“I’m lucky, everything worked out good,” said Salles. “The first turn, I had a good trip. I could save a lot of ground and gain positions. In the turn, everyone was making moves I think a little early and I just started taking gaps and gaps. Last time I finished second with her, I really liked this filly, and she had the best preparation. I came in very confident to this race.”
Trainer Kevin Attard, who finished one-two, was impressed with how his young pupil rose to the occasion in her first stakes engagement.
“She was obviously a maiden coming in here today, but she’s a filly that has shown talent from the get-go,” said Attard. “We were always high on her and gradually stretched her out. I thought her two-turn race last time was impressive enough to warrant a chance here today. Eighth of a mile to go, I thought War Painter was free, but this filly just dug in and she was flying up the inside.”
The Ulwellings purchased Inudation for $67,000 (U.S.) at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale from breeder David Anderson. Tidal Surge, a winner and half-sister to two-time Grade 3 winner American Lion, has had three previous foals to race including winner Golden Wave.