A runner-up in last year’s Grade 2 Kennedy Road Stakes, Ikerrin Road blazed a path to victory in the 2018 edition contested on Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack.

Jockey Ademar Santos celebrated his first stakes victory after guiding Ikerrin Road to a speedy score in the $175,000 six-furlong feature, clocked in 1:08.42. Vito Armata trains the five-year-old Iffraaj-Fantastic Spring gelding for Alpine Stable Ltd.

Sent off at odds of 6-1 after winning the stakes prep just over 2-1/2 weeks ago, Ikerrin Road left from the inside post and secured a stalking position behind the popular pacesetter, Yorkton, through opening fractions of :22.63 and :44.94. He then shot through the inside path to overtake the 3-5 favourite down the stretch and prevailed by a length while Holding Gold came through along the rail to secure the runner-up honours. Early trailer Call Me Wally ran on late widest of all to edge out Yorkton for third-place.

“He didn’t break sharp, but the plan was to kind of sit off a little bit. But nobody wanted to go so everybody sat back so I just decided to go a little closer with him and get position,” said Santos. “It was a little tight down the bend, but I had to shoot for the hole because if I was to stop and go out, I’d never win. He’s just a classy horse.”

Ikerrin Road was claimed for $32,000 when making a successful Woodbine debut in May 2017 and went on to win the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes last year during a $200,000 campaign. He is now 11-for-30 lifetime with career earnings soaring over the half-million dollar mark.

“Last year we thought when he finished second to Pink Lloyd, he’s going to come back next year, but it doesn’t work that way,” said Armata, noting the bay gelding has overcome sickness to return to top form this fall. “The horse is lucky to be here. It’s coming true. We gave him lots of time and there he is.”

Ikerrin Road paid $15.70, $7.90 and $4.70. He combined with Holding Gold ($7.40, $5.60) for a $93 exacta while a winning $1 trifecta ticket with Call Me Wally ($9) was worth $251.45. With Yorkton fourth, the superfecta paid $654.35 for a $1 ticket.

Brass Compass, Singandcryindubai, Boreal Spirit, Hemp Hemp Hurray and Vici completed the order of finish.

Live Thoroughbred racing resumes on Sunday afternoon, with first race post time set for 1 p.m. The 11-race program features the $175,000 Bessarabian Stakes (Grade 2).