Perfect Crime had never won on the grass and in fact, went into the October 22 Overskate Stakes without a win this year after seven runs at the optional claiming $32,000 level.
But Colebrook Farm’s five-year-old gelding, trained by Pat Dixon, wore down champion Town Cruise in the late stages of the 7 1/2 furlong turf race to haul in some $60,000 of the purse for the win. It was the first stake win for Dixon, who began training the Colebrook horses in 2021. Dixon had trained a couple of horses about a decade ago but had worked as an assistant trainer before he returned to training in 2021.
Ridden by Kazushi Kimura, Perfect Crime benefitted from a perfect trip behind a pace duel between Town Cruise and last year’s Overskate winner, Dun Drum. He raced the distance in 1:30.08.
Perfect Crime, a son of Old Forester – That’s Our Princess by Curlin, topped the 2019 CTHS Mixed Sale at $72,000. John Brnjas of Colebrook bought the gelding from the last crop of yearlings from breeder Gus Schickedanz.
All three of the gelding’s career wins from 32 previous races came on the Tapeta and he had placed four times from 10 previous grass races.
“It’s very exciting,” said Dixon. “I’ve trained him since he was a baby and he’s always shown a lot of talent and I’ve aimed for this race for a long, long time. After I stretched him out the one time, I thought this would be a perfect race for him, he runs so well on the inner turf.
“He’d been training fantastic after his last race, and I thought he would run a really big race today. I was really excited for him to run. All credit to John Brnjas and the whole Colebrook family for sticking with me as a trainer and everything that we’ve been through.”
Also on Sunday, the Eternal Search Stakes was held, also a 7 1/2 furlong turf race, but for fillies and mares. FASHIONABLY FAB, who had never been on the turf, went head-to-head with Breathing Fire for most of the stake and won a close photo for Terra Racing, trainer Kevin Attard and jockey Patrick Husbands. The time was 1:30.67.
Fashionably Fab (Silent Name (Jpn) – Flashy’s Legacy by Curlin) was coming off a hard-fought win in the Rondeau Bay Stakes in September at Fort Erie on the dirt. That was her first win of the campaign and second stakes win. The Eternal Search score brings her record to five wins in nine races and earnings of over $250,000.
The filly’s dam Flashy’s Legacy, a winning half sister to 2010 Queen’s Plate winner Big Red Mike, had her two-year-old debut on Saturday – Flashinthesky – and that gal was a promising second.
“We were confident, obviously with her pedigree, her being by Silent Name, that she should like the grass,” said Attard about Fashionably Fab. “We weren’t sure how much cut was into the turf with the rain we’ve had but obviously she looked pretty good out there today.
“It was tight, very tight, but she’s just an honest horse, obviously had a good campaign last year as a two-year-old. It’s just nice to see her come back now in her sophomore campaign.”
The story of the weekend (other than the controversial disqualification of Solo Album in the Ontario Derby on Saturday) was the speedy nature of the Tapeta surface, emphasized by windy conditions. Horses who went to the lead won most of the races and the times, especially in sprints, were sizzling.
On Sunday, TRUE TEMPER, coming off a long layoff since his debut win in the spring for Jackpot Farm, won an optional claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs in a stunning 1:14.99, not far off the track record of 1:14.44 set seven years ago. True Temper, an Ontario-bred by Maclean’s Music – Bingo by Bernstein, was bred by Minshall Farms and he is trained by Mark Casse.
A race later, American trainer Mike Stidham sent PARK PLACE back once again and the gelding won his maiden by eight lengths, speeding 7 furlongs in 1:21.60.
Park Place was ridden by RAFAEL HERNANDEZ, who had six winners last week. Hernandez is in third place in the rider standings, just six wins behind Sahin Civaci, who won five races last week.
KAZUSHI KIMURA, leading the meet with 115 winners, had a big week with seven victories.
Ten-year-old LAPOCHKA won for the 18th time when he took a $15,000 claiming race on Friday. The son of English Channel, currently owned by Eight Star Racing and trained by Vito Armata, has raced 73 times and earned over $500,000. According to Woodbine rules, Lapochka is eligible to race again in 2024.
Another old-timer, SHEKKY SHEBAZ, a stakes winning eight-year-old who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2019 and currently raced for TEC Racing and trainer Martin Drexler, was second in an off-the-turf race for $25,000 claiming on Sunday. Shekky Shebaz has earned $589,000, much of it for previous owners Michael Dubb, Madaket Racing and Bethlehem Stables.
The winner of his race was speedy AIM FOR THE SKY (Sky Mesa) who now has won four races this year, tied for second at Woodbine by victories. Owned by Eric Ross and Steven Chircop and trained by Chircop, Aim for the Sky, coming off a 14th place finish a week ago, turned his form around in a big way with the open-length win in 56.57 for 5 furlongs on the Tapeta, just missing the track record.
More than $20.4 million was wagered on four days of Woodbine racing last week.