Making a belated seasonal bow, Eugene Melnyk’s homebred Sovereign Award-winning Leigh Court couldn’t have been more impressive, wiring nine rivals in the featured $155,600 Grade 3 Seaway Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.
With Gary Boulanger at the controls for trainer Josie Carroll, Leigh Court, a four-year-old daughter of Grand Slam-Padmore, rattled off quick fractions of :23.16 and :45.93, while opening a couple of lengths on her pursuers.
Boulanger let her roll around the far turn, even taking a quick peek back to see who might be coming, then hand-rode the filly through the lane, getting to the wire two and one-half lengths in front of Toasting and Spring in the Air, while being clocked in 1:22.27 for the seven furlong event on Polytrack for fillies and mares.
Last year, Leigh Court sprang to prominence, winning three consecutive stakes, the seven furlong Duchess on poly, the one mile Ontario Colleen on turf and the mile and one-sixteenth La Lorgnette, also on poly, to stake her claim as Canada’s top three-year-old filly. She finished the year with an excellent fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup on grass at Keeneland in October.
That was her last outing prior to Sunday’s Seaway, but the 10-month layoff proved no obstacle.
“She’s been working tremendously,” said Boulanger, who has partnered with Leigh Court in her last six starts, four of which were stakes wins. “It’s a tremendous honour to be part of this team and riding her. The success we’ve had has been a dream come true.
“The funny thing is I’ve never ever sent this filly. She does that all on her own. Keeping her happy, she and I seem to click and whatever the reason we get along well.”
Added Carroll, “She’s filled out a lot. Last year, she looked like a baby, a three-year-old. This year, she’s got a big rear end on her and she’s really gotten stronger. We thought we’d get her first start out of the way, then play it from there.”
The victory continued a torrid stakes streak for Carroll, as she also won the Breeders’ Stakes with Ami’s Holiday and the Sky Classic with Karibu Gardens (for Melnyk) just last weekend.
Leigh Court, sent postward the 6-5 choice, earned $90,000 for the win, her sixth victory in only 10 lifetime outings, to push her career bankroll to well over $400,000. She paid $4.60, $3.50 and $2.80, combining with Toasting ($10.40, $6.20) for a $46.20 (7-2) exactor. A 7-2-6 (Spring in the Air, $4.90) triactor was worth $295.50 while a $1 Superfecta [7-2-6-1 (Northern Passion)] returned $401.15.