Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm’s Ontario-bred SAY THE WORD, who on Thursday was named Canada’s champion male turf horse for 2020, grabbed the lead at midstretch from Channel Cat and went on to post a 1 1/2-length victory in the 36th running of the $200,000 Elkhorn (G2) for older horses Saturday afternoon.
Now based in Southern California with trainer Phil D’Amato, Say the Word and jockey Luis Saez covered 1½ miles on a turf course rated as good in 2:28.26.
He earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure according to Daily Racing Form. The victory marked the third of four wins on the afternoon for Saez as well as his fourth stakes victory of the meet.
Epic Bromance and favored Tide of the Sea alternated on the lead through fractions of :24.31, :48.94 and 1:14.42 with Channel Cat and Say the Word racing in the clear in fourth and fifth. On the far turn, Channel Cat and Say the Word moved in tandem after Tide of the Sea and quickly opened up on the field by the top of the stretch.
Say the Word surged to the front at the eighth pole and was not threatened in the run to the finish line.
The victory was worth $120,000 and increased Say the Word’s earnings to $609,292 with a record of 29-6-3-5. It was his second graded stakes victory with the other coming in the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) last year at Woodbine.
Say the Word began his career with trainer Graham Motion and had 16 outings for Motion . He was also in the barn of trainer Neil Howard and Gail Cox. Last year Cox had him for four races including a 51-to-1 victory at Saratoga when he was offered for a $62,500 claiming price.
Say the Word, who was bred in Ontario by Sam-Son, is a 6-year-old gelding by More Than Ready out of the Giant’s Causeway mare DANCEFORTHECAUSE who won the lifetime achievement award for Outstanding Broodmare at the Sovereigns last week. Her 2016 foal Rideforthecause, also a graded stakes winner last year, missed the Sovereign for Turf Female by 2 voting points.
At Keeneland’s 2021 January Horses of All Ages Sale, Sam-Son sold Danceforthecause, in foal to Twirling Candy, to Gainesway Farm for $925,000 – which equaled the highest price of the auction. Danceforthecause is out of Racing Hall of Famer Dance Smartly.
For his Elkhorn win, Say the Word returned $7.20, $4.80 and $3.20. Channel Cat, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $9.60 and $4.80 and finished a neck in front of Crafty Daddy, who paid $5.60 to show under Brian Hernandez Jr.
MIGHTY HEART made a successful return to the races as the shiny new Canadian Horse of the Year. The one-eyed colt owned by Lawrence Cordes took part in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt at Keeneland for trainer Josie Carroll. Under jockey James Graham, Mighty Heart grabbed a two-length lead early in the race, fended off two challengers on the turn, but then was caught late by South Bend and Empty Tomb and was 1 1/2 lengths behind at the finish.
He posted a 90 Beyer Speed Figure in that first race since November when he was 4th in the Ontario Derby (G3).
Woodbine options for Mighty Heart, should racing be able to get started soon, include the June 12 Great Lakes Stakes, an overnight race on Tapeta at 1 1/16 miles and the July 1 Dominion Day Stakes (G3).
~with files from Keeneland