settled off a wicked early pace before rallying to an impressive score in Sunday's $161,700 Grade III Hendrie Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong Tapeta sprint, at Woodbine.
Trained by Ryan Walsh for owner Anne L. Walsh, Cactus Kris, a five-year-old Cactus Ridge mare, was making her seventh career start at Woodbine having already captured the Ruling Angel Stakes here in 2014 and the Grade III Ontario Fashion Stakes last season.
Cactus Kris settled into fourth position along the rail under regular pilot Huber Villa-Gomez as Academic, Canada's champion three-year-old filly of 2015, sizzled through an opening quarter of :22.22 under pressure from 3-5 mutuel favourite Leigh Court, who was piloted by Florent Geroux.
Leigh Court, recent winner of the Grade III Whimsical Stakes at Woodbine, marked the half-mile in a rapid :44.38 maintaining a precarious lead through the turn as Cactus Kris and Galina Point took dead aim at the front-running duo and it was Cactus Kris, full of run, who would not be denied sprinting clear to a five-length score. Galina Point earned place money by a ½-length over Skylander Girl. Cactus Kris covered 6 1/2-furlongs in 1:15.28.
The versatile mare came into the Hendrie from a rallying second-place run on the Keeneland turf in the Giant's Causeway Stakes, on April 16.
"She runs on everything and she's better than ever," said Villa-Gomez. "She does whatever I ask her to. If I want to go, she goes. But, mostly I just let her do whatever she wants."
Cactus Kris, who races primarily at Presque Isle Downs, was primed for a big effort off her seasonal debut at Keeneland.
"The last race we were using as a prep for this and she's really exceeded anything we thought she would do. She finished with a ton of run," said her conditioner. "We know she loves the Tapeta from (racing at) Presque Isle. We're real excited about this year."
Cactus Kris, bred in Kentucky by James Paliafito and Tom Keegan, banked $90,000 in victory while improving her record to 7-6-3 from 20 starts.
She paid $14.10, $6.10 and $5.40, combining with Galina Point ($7, $6.30) for a $66.20 (2-6) exactor. A 2-6-5 triactor (Skylander Girl, $10.50 to show) was worth $278.20, while a $1 Superfecta [2-6-5-7 (Copper Kitten)] came back $943.60.
Source: Woodbine Communications Office