Persistence is the art of staying the course in spite of difficulty or opposition. Frankly, I believe it to be a bit of a lost art in this world of needing immediate gratification. Today at Woodbine, Ami’s Holiday demonstrated true persistence in the Breeders’ Stakes.
Ami’s Holiday demonstrated persistence within the two minutes and thirty seconds it took him to win the historic mile-and-a-half turf affair. The son of Harlan’s Holiday determinedly worked his way through traffic to forge to the lead in deep stretch and win the 124th running of the half-million dollar race which serves as the third jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown. It was an important win for a colt who hadn’t reached the wire since scoring in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine last October. His hiatus from the winner’s circle did not come for a lack of trying.
Since winning one of the more important juvenile races in his native land, Ami’s Holiday had run six times. Not once did he throw in a poor effort, but for various reasons, he was unable to earn his third career win. In his most recent races, the Ivan Dalos homebred ran well in the first two legs of the series for the best of the Canadian-bred three-year-olds. He had less than an ideal trip when he finished a clear second to the excellent filly Lexie Lou in the Queen’s Plate. That effort came over the main course of Woodbine on Polytrack. Just over three weeks later he visited Fort Erie to finish a late-running third in the Prince of Wales behind the front running Coltimus Prime. Once again, the best of the racing luck was not on his side, in the second leg, which was run on dirt.
Undeterred, he was the only horse in today’s twelve horse field to give it a go in each of the three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. A little unlucky in the first two legs, Ami’s Holiday was both trying turf for the first time and running a quarter mile farther than he had gone before. You could say that he was persistent even to be entered in the Breeders’ Stakes, or perhaps it was his connections demonstrating their faith in a colt who never seems to give up.
Given a leg up by trainer Josie Carroll, Luis Contreras hopped up on his familiar mount, and together the pair entered the starting gate as the 2-1 second choice. Going in he was clearly the most accomplished horse in the field, but the turf and the distance were still question marks, although he did tip off his ability to handle the lawn every bit as well as other surfaces with a bullet five furlong workout in 59 1/5 seconds over the Woodbine turf course one week ago. For a while it looked like Ami’s Holiday might be plagued by a tough trip for a third consecutive time as he moved along mid pack and in between, and behind a wall of horses. This time, though, he would not be denied.
Demonstrating both patience and persistence, Ami’s Holiday stayed with it until the holes opened up. By the time he found clear sailing, he was ready to collar the leaders and power on by. From there, he would drive hard to the wire for a popular three-quarter length victory over Interpol and Squeeze the King, who finished second and third respectively in the Canadian classic.
“Third time was the good one,” said Contreras. “I’m so happy with this horse. He just does a tremendous job all the time. I got a pretty clean trip. I was sitting behind the speed, I wanted to keep him with the other horses to keep him busy. I know my horse is very brave, he’s been in trouble before. He was going great (when we came between the other horses). He just galloped. He had a tremendous kick at the end.”
The winning trainer was understandably proud of her star. “I think it speaks a lot for this horse,” said Carroll. “We talk a lot about horses not having the constitution that they used to, but this is the culmination of a breeding program by Mr. Dalos interjecting stamina into a race horse. He was a little tired after the Prince of Wales, shipping down (to Fort Erie), shipping home. He just lit it up (in his turf work). He just came to life.”
Ami’s Holiday earned $300,000 for the win to push his career bankroll to over $770,000, while upping his lifetime record to 9-3-2-2. He’s now proven at the distance, and seems equally adept on any surface. More than anything, though, he demonstrated his persistence today. As is the case with most things in life, persistence eventually pays off.