Thomas F. Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth’s venerable turf titan Tower of Texas will look to defend his title in Saturday’s Grade 2 $175,000 Connaught Cup, at Woodbine.
Trained by Roger Attfield, Tower of Texas rallied to win last year’s edition of the seven-furlong turf sprint by a narrow nose over Commute. The seven-year-old Street Sense bay, bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms Inc. and Rod Ferguson, is a model of consistency on Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course where he boasts a record of 3-5-2 from 13 starts which also includes a Grade 2 score in the 2015 running of the King Edward Stakes.
“He’s a very easy horse to get along with. He goes out there and gives 100 percent. What makes him a different horse is that last eighth of a mile, he has such big acceleration. He starts accelerating at the quarter pole, but that last eighth of a mile he always has that strong pick up. He loves to finish well,” said jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva.
A fan favourite on social media, the popular Tower of Texas has made three starts in 2018 having taken the Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds on Jan. 13 before making a creditable dirt debut in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream Park when third. Last time out, Tower of Texas landed eighth in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile won by Heart to Heart with Connaught Cup rival Forge in third.
Tower of Texas breezed five furlongs in :59.20 over the turf training track on May 27 in preparation for Saturday’s test.
“He’s come up to this race in great shape. Roger Attfield does a great job with this horse…with every horse, he’s the master,” grinned da Silva. “This horse is going to run big because he’s feeling good. I’ve worked him the last three times and I could not be more happy.”
Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Forge, trained by Bill Mott, serves up a record of 3-4-3 from 17 starts with his last victory recorded on June 4, 2017 in an optional claiming tilt at Churchill Downs. By Dubawi, Forge is out of the multiple Grade 1 winner, Heat Haze, and is from the same family that has produced such stars as Champs Elysees, Cacicque, Intercontinental, Banks Hill and Dansili. Luis Contreras has the call.
Chiefswood Stable homebred Yorkton won three of 10 starts last season for trainer Stuart Simon and will be making his third start off the layoff in Saturday’s seven-furlong sprint. The four-year-old Speightstown bay finished third in the Sovereign Award voting for Champion Sprinter thanks to wins in the Queenston, Charlie Barley and King Corrie Stakes. Steve Bahen will ride.
Conquest Panthera captured the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes over seven furlongs of Woodbine turf here last season for trainer Mark Casse and owner Gary Barber. The six-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding has won four of 16 career starts and arrives at the Connaught Cup from a good second in the Elusive Quality Stakes, a seven-furlong turf sprint at Belmont Park. Patrick Husbands, aboard for the Play the King coup, will pilot the chestnut gelding.
Glen Hill Farm homebred Caribou Club, a four-year-old City Zip chestnut, will make his Woodbine debut from a winning performance in the Henry S. Clark Stakes at Laurel Park. The well-traveled chestnut also owns wins at Santa Anita and Del Mar and will look to make his Canadian debut a first graded stakes win. Gary Boulanger picks up the mount for trainer Tom Proctor.
Bondurant, Camelot Kitten and Dimension complete a talented field of eight.
The Connaught Cup is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race card. First post time is 1 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com.
FIELD FOR THE GRADE 2 CONNAUGHT CUP
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Caribou Club / Gary Boulanger / Tom Proctor
2 / Conquest Panthera / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
3 / Tower of Texas / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Roger Attfield
4 / Bondurant / Ismael Mosqueira / Ian Wilkes
5 / Camelot Kitten / Rafael Hernandez / Michael Maker
6 / Yorkton / Steve Bahen / Stu Simon
7 / Forge / Luis Contreras / Bill Mott
8 / Dimension / David Moran / Conor Murphy