Melmich, expertly piloted by Eurico Rosa da Silva, rallied last to first to capture the featured $156,000, Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes on Canada Day at Woodbine.

Last of five for most of the mile and one-quarter contest, while War Dancer, under pressure from defending Dominion Day champ Red Rifle, led the field through fractions of :25.30, :49.52 and 1:13.64, Melmich moved to challenge the leaders turning for home and surged past for a commanding 1 1/2-length win. The final time was 2:04.06. Breaking Lucky, the 2015 Prince of Wales champ, rallied for place over Scuba.

Da Silva believes the slow time may have been hampered by conditions.

“The wind is blowing very hard so it’s very difficult to say if this is the real time. For me, they were going good,” said da Silva. “My horse was relaxed and he was there for me any time I needed him. The longer he goes, the better he is.”

Trained by Kevin Attard, the five-year-old Wilko chestnut arrived at the 1 ¼-mile Tapeta route from an even third-place run in the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes while making his seasonal debut. The talented gelding won six of eight starts in 2015 including added-money victories in the restricted Elgin Stakes and Grade 3 Valedictory Stakes, a 1 ¾-mile marathon.

“He was coming off a six-month layoff and the track he ran on that day was very tiring,” said Attard of the Eclipse effort. “He’s had some good works in the interim and we’ve been pointing for this race since the beginning of the season.”

The victory was a special one for Stephen Chesney who co-owns Melmich with Cory Hoffman. The duo acquired Melmich through the claim box for $20,000 on September 26, 2014 and the gelding has since won nine times.

“I remember the first Dominion Day Handicap I came to, I was about 16 and Frost King won it. I loved that horse,” recalled Chesney. “I would never have dreamed to have a horse in the race, nevermind winning it. Anybody thinking about racing should get involved.”

Melmich, bred in Ontario by Andy Stronach, banked $90,000 in victory while improving his record to 10-5-2 from 22 starts.

He paid $6, $3.40 and $2.40, combining with Breaking Lucky ($4.40, $3.50) for a $19.10 (5-4) exactor. A 5-4-2 triactor (Scuba, $3.40 to show) was worth $49.70.