Pyrite Mountain, ridden by Luis Contreras for trainer Mark Frostad,
announced his Queen`s Plate intentions by outbattling John Oxley`s
Uncaptured in the $100,000 Wando Stakes Sunday at Woodbine.
Sent postward the 7-2 second choice behind 2-5 Uncaptured, Canada`s
Horse of the Year in 2012 for trainer Mark Casse, Pyrite Mountain was
content to lag behind his three rivals for much of the mile and
But after Uncaptured took command from pacesetter Midnight Aria
turning for home, Contreras had Pyrite Mountain in high gear while
angling to the outside. In a drive to the wire, the Ontario-bred son of
Silent Name-Gold Lined gradually wore down the leaders inside the
sixteenth pole to prevail by one and one-half lengths in 1:44.24.
Uncaptured, ridden by Patrick Husbands, held the place award by a
nostril over a game Midnight Aria, while Tesseron came in fourth, four
and one-quarter lengths further back. The Wando, named for Canada`s
Triple Crown winner in 2003, was reduced to four starters after the
scratches of Are You Kidding Me, Steel Dust Dancer and Dynamic Sky.
While Uncaptured took all the juvenile glory, deservedly so, last
year, winning six of seven starts, including five stakes, en route to
dual Sovereign Awards, the lightly-raced Pyrite Mountain tipped his hand
to possible future success as well, losing his debut by a head before
breaking his maiden in the restricted Kingarvie Stakes at Woodbine last
Frostad then sent the colt to Florida, where he was a troubled
fourth in a turf contest at Gulfstream Park, before finishing the
runner-up to Red Rifle, a highly-regarded Todd Pletcher trainee at
Keeneland on April 13. Today, he returned to Woodbine to begin his
march to the July 7 Queen`s Plate.
And what better way to do it than to defeat one of the Plate
favourites Uncaptured, whose connections had been pointing him to the
Kentucky Derby before an uncharacteristically dismal performance in the
Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland derailed those hopes.
``My horse broke a little slow,`` explained Contreras, `but I tried to save ground on both turns. He’s so nice to ride.``
``He`s coming along nicely,`` echoed Frostad, of Pyrite Mountain.
``He`s had a couple of good starts over the winter and he didn`t get the
best of trips but got a lot out of them. It was a learning
experience. He was ready today, ran very well. Luis managed very
well on him (for the first time).``
Owned by Awesome Again Racing Limited Partnership, Pyrite Mountain
earned $75,600 for the win to push his career bankroll to $175,780. He
was a $50,000 purchase at the Canadian September Yearling Sales.
Pyrite Mountain paid $9.20 to win (no place or show wagering), combining with Uncaptured for a $14.30 (5-2) exactor.