Sunday’s VALEDICTORY STAKES (G3) at Woodbine has been the final stakes race of the season, the crowning moment of the long meeting, in the past and while it is held earlier now (and was shortened two years ago from 1 3/4 miles to 1 1/2 miles), the race could be the cherry on the top of a big year for owner Gary Barber.

PALAZZI (Pioneerof the Nile – Kindle by Indian Charlie) has a big chance to add to Barber’s stakes totals as he meets 13 others in the popular race worth $150,000. Palazzi, trained by Mark Casse, won the Singspiel Stakes earlier this year on the grass and recently finished fourth in the Canadian International (G1). Barber bought Palazzi last fall at the Keeneland Horses of Race Age Sale for $35,000.

Surprisingly, Barber, who has raced Queen’s Plate winners and champions Lexie Lou and Wonder Gadot, has yet to win a Sovereign Award for Outstanding Owner, but surely 2023 is his year. He has raced a litany of local stakes winners including My Boy Prince, two Grade 1 placed including third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and King’s Plate winner Paramount Prince, whom he bought into from Mike Langlois last year. Add in stars such as Lucky Score, Miss Speedy, Candy Overload, Witwatersrand, Ice Chocolat and others, and Barber’s dedication to racing (and sometimes breeding) in Ontario has paid off.

There are other contenders in the Valedictory which is race 7 of 9 on Sunday. The fast-improving filly MILLIE GIRL will try to be the fourth distaffer to win the marathon stakes.  Millie Girl comes off a pair of graded stakes wins, the Maple Leaf and Ontario Matron, for Kingfield Racing Stable, Braoncrest and Apricot Valley.

Casse also sends out the fresh four-year-old WIN FOR THE MONEY, second in the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes off a layoff last month. And Grade 1 placed SO HIGH (GB), winless since November 2020 when he won a $35,000 claiming race on turf at Aqueduct, invades for Naipaul Chatterpaul. So High has won at 1 1/2 miles on an all-weather track overseas.