The Eclipse Stakes has been captured by many of the titans in Canadian racing. Such steeds as Frost King, Overskate, Izvestia and Mt. Sassafras. Looking initially at the 2010 edition of the race, it was hard to fathom one of the six horses going off as high as 10-1. The field was too evenly-matched.
Even harder to believe was that a Grade 1 placed horse coming off a win in his seasonal bow was on the toteboard at 10-1. Nevertheless, $22.70 is exactly what those who took a shot at Fifty Proof collected for backing him in the Grade 3 event at Woodbine Racetrack.
In successfully holding off longshot Don Cavallo, the tall chestnut, termed ‘fairly dumb’ by his conditioner, Ian Black, captured his first career graded stakes event by a half-length.
Fifty Proof is now 2-for-2 in 2011. Black is blessed to have considerable options with the five-year-old, now that he’s proven he is more adept over synthetic than he had originally thought.
While two-turns on Polytrack is now a proven comfort, it would be completely irrational to get used to seeing him on that surface.
Last year, under regular rider Justin Stein, Fifty Proof’s best performance came in the 12-furlong Northern Dancer Stakes over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. At 29-1, he nearly pulled off one of the year’s biggest stakes upsets before yielding late to overseas invader Redwood, who won by a half-length.
On the whole, the turf stakes program at Woodbine is much more lucrative than any campaign that could possibly be designed on Polytrack for an older horse. If Fifty Proof has moved forward from last year, he’s dangerous in every start this year.
Saturday’s Eclipse added $108,000 to his bankroll. In just 12 starts, this Ontario-son of Whiskey Wisdom’s bankroll has quietly risen to $569,920.
With earnings averaging $47,493 per attempt, Fifty Proof is moving into territory occupied by his double-millionaire stablemate Rahy’s Attorney, who earns at a rate of $54,329 per trip to post.
Not certain if a formal record book exists denoting this accomplishment, but it has to be pretty safe to say that Rahy’s Attorney is the richest Ontario-sired horse in the province’s history.
If Fifty Proof keeps improving and connecting, he’s in position to take an interesting run at the aforementioned purse title held by the son of Crown Attorney. Daring to dream for a minute along with owners John Fielding, Ben Hutzel and Kinghaven Farms, a Fifty Proof victory in the $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International (October 16), hypothetically speaking, would push him about $1 million closer: the $900,000 top prize plus $180,000 (60% of the $300,000 for which he is eligible from the Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) for being an Ontario-foaled runner).
It’s a tough assignment. But it’s hard to put peak restrictions on a horse when he’s on the improve. Between now and October anything is possible because you just never know…