A handful of youngsters will step into the stakes spotlight for the first time this Saturday in the $100,000 Victoria Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.
The 5-1/2 furlong sprint is the first stakes opportunity at Woodbine this season for juvenile colts. A $245,000 yearling purchase at last year’s Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga sale, Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins’ Armistice Day will make his stakes debut following an impressive Canada Day victory at Woodbine in which he settled off the pace then swept to the lead late and drew off by 5-1/2 lengths.
"He's just been really good from the time he came to me at Keeneland during the spring meet while I was there,” said trainer Barbara Minshall. “He's always been an extremely professional horse, easy to train and takes everything in stride.”
Minshall describes the big, strong colt as a route horse who will stretch out in future starts.
“I see this horse running from off the pace. He wants to go longer down the road but we don’t have options right now to go longer so we just take one step at a time and let him develop as it comes along.”
Armistice Day and jockey Luis Contreras winning on July 1 at Woodbine Racetrack, Michael Burns Photo
Bred by Glenvale Stud, the Kentucky-bred is sired by Declaration of War out of the multiple-graded stakes winning mare Harmony Lodge, and is a half-sibling to Grade 3 stakes winner Stratford Hill.
Lunsford, Minshall and Contreras previously teamed up for a Victoria Stakes victory in 2015 when homebred Hollywood Hideaway was promoted to first-place after being interfered with by Beliveau.
The Newfie Express, who hit the board in his June 3 debut then finished second behind Armistice Day last time out, will be looking to break through for a win in the Victoria Stakes for trainer/owner Alex Patykewich. Jeffrey Alderson will be back aboard the Victor's Cry-Tour d'Star gelding.
Crawl From the Bar will make his first career start in the Victoria with Eurico Rosa Da Silva up for trainer Norm McKnight and owners Racer’s Edge Inc., and Dindyal and Krishna Persaud. Bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms and Rod Ferguson Farms, the grey colt is by Exchange Rate out of Won Opportunity. His dam’s stakes-winning siblings include Street Sounds and half-brother Tower of Texas.
Big Drink of Water (Soldat-Vindi Princess) and Wallace (Runaway and Hide-Tales of Paradise) will make their first starts on Canadian soil in the Victoria, both coming off maiden-breaking wins at Presque Isle Downs for owner Endeavor Bloodstock. Teresa Connelly conditions Big Drink of Water, who will be ridden by Pablo Morales, while Sid Attard has taken over the training duties for supplemental entry Wallace, who was recently acquired by Lucio Tucci and will have Gary Boulanger aboard.
Here is a complete look at the field in post position order for the Victoria Stakes, which is scheduled as the eighth of 10 races on Saturday’s 1 p.m. program:
$100,000 Victoria Stakes
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1. Big Drink of Water – Pablo Morales – Teresa Connelly
2. The Newfie Express – Jeffrey Alderson – Alex Patykewich
3. Crawl From the Bar – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Norm McKnight
4. Wallace – Gary Boulanger – Sid Attard
5. Armistice Day – Luis Contreras – Barbara Minshall