Speedway Stable LLC.'s Leigh Court broke sharply and never looked back en route to a stellar score in Grade III $161,400 Whimsical Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Michael Stidham, the dark bay daughter of Grand Slam-Padmore arrived at the six furlong Tapeta sprint from a narrow 3/4-length score in the grassy Mardi Gras Stakes at Fair Grounds on.
The now six-year-old Leigh Court earned champion three-year-old filly honours in Canada in 2013 after victories in the Duchess, La Lorgnette and Grade III Ontario Colleen Stakes. Initially trained by Josie Carroll for Eugene Melnyk, Leigh Court sold for $1 million to Speedway Stables at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale.
Florent Geroux, aboard for the Mardi Gras score, travelled to Woodbine for the mount and hustled Leigh Court immediately to the front with Green Doctor providing outside pressure. Ida Bambina and Skylander Girl settled in behind the frontrunners as Leigh Court marked the quarter in :22.48.
Leigh Court accelerated into the turn and took command through a :45.25 half as Ida Bambina tried a rail run while Galina Point circled wide. However, there was no denying the returning champion as Leigh Court sprinted clear to a two-length victory. Galina Point won a photo for place over Skylander Girl. Leigh Court covered six furlongs in 1:08.88.
Geroux believes a quick start was the key factor as Leigh Court took her fourth career graded stakes win. In addition to the Ontario Colleen, Leigh Court has also won the Grade III Seaway, at Woodbine, and the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America, at Keeneland.
"She broke very sharp today. Sometimes she has a tendency of breaking a step slow or flat footed," said Geroux. "Today, she broke very alertly and I was able to make the lead very nice and comfortable. We know she can be very tough when she can be on the lead like this and able to relax. She gave me a very nice turn of foot at the quarter pole. (She was) very strong.
"Last time (in the Mardi Gras) it was a little more difficult because we had the one hole and she broke flat footed," continued Geroux. "I had to send her a little bit out of there to take my position and from there she was able to hold on. She was coming from a layoff and a little short of fitness, but today she was ready to run a big one, and she did."
It was the fourth added-money win at Woodbine for Geroux who won the Grade II Natalma Stakes here last year with Catch a Glimpse who was named Canada's Horse of the Year atnight's Sovereign Awards. In 2014, Geroux won the Duchess and Etobicoke Stakes for the Stidham trained Pirate's Trove.
"I like to come here to Woodbine. I've had a lot of success here and I picked up a Breeders' Cup winner (Catch a Glimpse) the last time I came. I think I'm going to keep coming," said Geroux.
Leigh Court, bred in Kentucky by former owner Eugene Melnyk, banked $90,000 in victory while improving her record to 9-4-0 from 17 starts.
She paid $3.30 and $2.10, combining with Galina Point ($3.20, $2.20) for a $9.80 (3-5) exactor. A 3-5-2 triactor (Skylander Girl) was worth $22.60. There was no show wagering.
Source: Woodbine Communications Office