Coronation Futurity & Kennedy Road Stakes on Saturday at Woodbine
The remarkable Pink Lloyd returns in Grade 2 Kennedy Road; Muskoka Gold headlines $225,000 Coronation Futurity for 2-year-olds.
By: Jennifer Morrison |
Conrad Farms’ Muskoka Gold, a two-year-old son of Lea, will go after his second added-money crown in Saturday’s $225,000 Coronation Futurity Stakes, at Woodbine. The Grade 2 $175,000 Kennedy Road Stakes, for three-year-olds and upward, is also on tap.
The 116th Coronation Futurity is 1 1/8 miles on the Tapeta for Canadian foaled 2-year-olds. It is the most significant race of the year with Sovereign Award implications for 2-year-olds and also tends to secure early favoritism for the winner for the Queen’s Plate (although the last winner of the Futurity-Plate double was Norcliffe way back in 1974-75).
Trained by Mark Casse, Muskoka Gold takes on seven rivals in this year’s Coronation. He is the only entrant with a Beyer Speed Figure in the 70s on the Tapeta. Only one other entrant, Pleasecallmeback, has posted a Beyer in the 70s, but those came on turf.
“He looks like a Queen’s Plate horse,” praised Casse. “The Conrads have been so good to us – it would be nice to reward them with something like that. They told me last year that they would like to try and find a Queen’s Plate horse. So we went out and bought a few and he’s one of them.”
Bred in Ontario by the late Bill Graham, Muskoka Gold heads into the Coronation Futurity off a strong second-place showing in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes on October 27 at Woodbine. With regular ride Jerome Lermyte in the irons, the bay colt rallied from 11 lengths back to finish just a half-length shy in the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
Prior to that performance, Muskoka Gold won the turf Cup & Saucer Stakes on October 6. Ignored at 18-1, he converted a one-length advantage at the stretch call into a 1 ¾-length triumph over ‘good’ going on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Muskoka Gold just missed winning his debut on September 15 at Woodbine. In a race originally slated for the grass, he was bumped at the start of the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race but rallied impressively to finish second, a neck behind Northern Thunder.
“He’s beautiful,” said Casse. “He’s a big, handsome horse. My concern, honestly, was that I’m not big on buying horses out of first-year sires. His father [Lea] was an extremely good horse and ran for a long time, so those are also things you are looking for.”
Lea, a son of First Samurai, won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at age 5 and was also a graded stakes winner on turf. He was second in the Woodbine Mile (G1) to Mondialiste in 2015 as a 6-year-old. He earned over $2 million. His first crop includes two stakes winners and seven winners.
Casse, who has three Coronation Futurity titles (2008 with Active Duty; 2010 with Strike Oil; 2016 with King and His Court), has been impressed with all three of Muskoka Gold’s lifetime efforts.
“Early on in the year, he wasn’t showing much of anything and it took a while for him to catch on. I thought his first race was good. I thought he got in a little bit of trouble and could have easily won. We had trained him on the grass and we felt very confident that he liked it. He ran very well on the grass, but at the same time, if he was a Queen’s Plate horse, or is a Queen’s Plate horse, I wanted to find out sooner rather than later. That’s why we went back and raced him on the Tapeta in the Grade 3, to see where we were. And he ran extremely well.”
Casse, a winner of over 2,800 career races, believes the colt can be even better.
“The light bulb isn’t on with him yet. He’s still a big boy and I’m not sure yet that he knows that his career and his life is to be a racehorse. If the lights come on with this horse, who knows how good he could be.”
Pleasecallmeback, owned by Bill Werner and trained by Roger Attfield, is the main threat to the favourite. The Hard Spun gelding is from the successful mare Dixie Chicken, dam of Dixie Moon, winner of the 2018 Woodbine Oaks.
Ayrshire Lad won the first running of the Coronation Futurity in 1902. The late Avelino Gomez won four straight (1964-67) editions of the race, a feat also achieved by Sandy Hawley (1973-76). Last year, Josie Carroll trainee Avie’s Flatter won the race in a time of 1:51.73. The last horse to notch the Futurity-Plate double was Norcliffe in 1975-76.
$225,000 CORONATION FUTURITY – Race 9
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Halo Again – Rafael Hernandez – Steve Asmussen
2 – Tomcat Black – Kazushi Kimura – Graham Motion
3 – Kunal – Luis Contreras – Steven Chircop
4 – Green Growth – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Catherine Day Phillips
5 – Pleasecallmeback – Patrick Husbands – Roger Attfield
6 – Northern Thunder – Justin Stein – Sid Attard
7 – Muskoka Gold – Jerome Lermyte – Mark Casse
8 – Malibu Mambo – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Kevin Attard
In his last start, the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes, Pink Lloyd finished fourth, but was declared a non-starter after a stewards’ inquiry. The Ontario-bred gelding won the 2017 edition of the Kennedy Road by 2 ¼-lengths in a time of 1:08.46.
This year’s edition of the Kennedy Road has the prep winner, Richiesinthehouse, a sharp speedster from trainer Larry Rivelli and Extravagant Kid, who came within a length of Pink Lloyd in the Jacques Cartier Stakes (G3) earlier this year.
$175,000 KENNEDY ROAD (GRADE 2) – Race 8
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Dixie’s Gamble – Luis Contreras – Josie Carroll
2 – Extravagant Kid – Rafael Hernandez – Brendan Walsh
3 – Reconfigure – Kazushi Kimura – Robert Tiller
4 – Richiesinthehouse – Patrick Husbands – Larry Rivelli
5 – Boreal Spirit – Gary Boulanger – Jennifer Shafer
6 – Pink Lloyd – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Robert Tiller
7 – O’Kratos – Justin Stein – Darwin Banach
8 – Malibu Secret – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Martin Drexler
9 – Eskiminzin – Jeffery Alderson – Carlos Grant
~ with files from Woodbine Communications