Stephen Chesney and Cory Hoffman’s Melmich returns to defend his title in Sunday’s co-featured Grade 3 $125,000 Seagram Cup, at Woodbine.
Trained by Kevin Attard, the former claimer turned multiple graded stakes winner has compiled a remarkable record of 16-12-3 from 37 career starts while banking some $951,248 in purse money. On Sunday, he’ll square off against a salty field of six that includes the Roger Attfield trained duo of Are You Kidding Me and Shakhimat as well as 2015 Seagram Cup champ, Florida Won.
Melmich will be looking for his first win of 2018. The ultra-consistent seven-year-old has finished second in all three starts this campaign, completing the exacta behind Are You Kidding Me in the prep for the Grade 2 Eclipse and the Eclipse itself. Last time out, the deep closing son of Wilko landed second in the Grade 3 Dominion Day, just 1 ¼-lengths back of the triumphant Tiz a Slam but two lengths in front of Are You Kidding Me.
“The pace scenario in his last couple races have hurt him. Hopefully this weekend we’ll have a bit more of an honest pace to run at,” said Attard.
The closing style preferred by the multiple graded stakes winning chestnut isn’t likely to change in Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile test.
“He seems to run well that way. We haven’t tried to change things up with him, but there may come a time to devise a different game plan if things continue to set up the way it has been,” said Attard.
Shakhimat, a multiple graded stakes winner in his own right, is the likely pacesetter under pilot Steve Bahen in the compact Seagram Cup field and both Melmich and Are You Kidding Me will have to be careful not to let the dark bay get away.
“With a small field, everyone is focusing on one or two horses in the race and those one or two horses are usually focusing on each other while someone else is stealing it,” said Attard. “It’s getting harder to catch these horses.”
Are You Kidding Me, Canada’s champion older horse of 2015 and 2016, has banked more than $1.2-million in a stellar career, but has yet to add a Seagram Cup to his list of accomplishments having finished second in both 2016 and 2017.
“If you look at Melmich and Are You Kidding Me, they’re two horses that have danced a few dances and still continue to compete at the highest level and that’s a big testament to those two horses,” said Attard.
A pair of sharp five-furlong breezes, including a recent main track effort in 1:00.80, signal that Melmich is ready to run a big one.
“His last two works have gone really well. He’s coming into this race as good as can be. We’re just hoping he puts in one his good performances,” said Attard.
Gigantic Breeze, a five-time winner from eight starts in a lucrative 2017 campaign for trainer Sandy McPherson, will look to pick up his first win of the meet on Sunday with jockey Mario Pino in the irons. Pino was aboard the Giant’s Causeway chestnut in September for a score in the Presque Isle Mile.
Norm McKnight, Woodbine’s second leading conditioner, will saddle both Florida Won and Decorated Soldier.
Florida Won, claimed for $40,000 by owner Bruno Schickedanz from a runner-up effort on May 13, is undefeated for his new trainer with a pair optional claiming wins to his credit. Luis Contreras has the call.
Racers Edge Inc. and Maxis Stable’s Decorated Soldier, claimed at Oaklawn Park for $20,000 on April 13, has won two of three starts for McKnight at Woodbine with the only loss coming against his above-mentioned stablemate. Gary Boulanger will ride.
The Seagram Cup is slated as Race 6 on Sunday’s 11-race card with the $225,000 Wonder Where Stakes, third and final leg of the filly Triple Tiara, set for Race 9. First post time is 1 P.M.
FIELD FOR THE $125,000 GRADE 3 SEAGRAM CUP
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Melmich / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Kevin Attard
2 / Gigantic Breeze / Mario Pino / Sandy McPherson
3 / Are You Kidding Me / Rafael Hernandez / Roger Attfield
4 / Florida Won / Luis Contreras / Norm McKnight
5 / Decorated Soldier / Gary Boulanger / Norm McKnight
6 / Shakhimat / Steve Bahen / Roger Attfield