Stakes action kicked off at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday afternoon with three-year-old colt Newstome winning the $100,000 Woodstock Stakes and Owlette taking the six-furlong companion Star Shoot for fillies.
With Luis Contreras aboard, Newstome made headlines with a commanding victory in the season’s first stakes event for trainer Michael Trombetta and owner Marie Trombetta.
Leaving from the inside, Aye Aye Sir charged out along the rail in the Woodstock with Lookinatamiracle and outsider Untitled looming through a :22.30 first quarter.
The outside foes continued to press the pace into the turn and past the :45.14 half-mile mark with Newstome, who had stalked the front-runners early, joining the fray then sprinting away down the stretch for the wide-open win in 1:09.99. He ran off by 5-1/2 lengths, with Untitled chasing in second and Lookinatamiracle edging out Aye Aye Sir for the third-place honours.
Striking Moon and Stormy Soul completed the order of finish.
“I got a great trip,” said Contreras afterwards. “He broke running and I was able to save ground and get in the stalk position. In the middle of the turn, I was just loaded with a lot of horse and turning for home, he just 'go.'”
Bred in Pennsylvania by Equivine Farm, the grey Goldencents-Newstouse colt, who won a pair of Black Type stakes stateside during a $175,000 juvenile campaign, was making his Woodbine debut and now boasts wins in half of his eight career starts.
In addition to picking up the mount on the stakes winner, Contreras is off to a great start to the season with four other victories so far through the first four race days.
“It’s been a long wait and the most important thing right now is to stay safe, and stay like that for the whole rest of the meet.”
Clayton and supplement Muchmorethanthis were scratched and entered in Sunday’s ninth race, a $101,200 seven-furlong allowance race.
In the Star Shoot, Owlette set out for the lead from the gate and never looked back, winning her season’s debut for jockey Jerome Lermyte and trainer Wesley Ward.
Owlette clocked panels of :22.13 and :44.12 en route to victory 1:09.55 by 1-3/4 lengths over Sovereign Award champion filly Curlin’s Voyage, who got up for second off a ground-saving trip. Coach Lori finished third after closing outside of Two Sixty, who was used early and stalked the winner throughout.
New York Groove, Tara Dawn, Ima Beast, Cool Shadows and Take Charge Eh completed the order of finish.
Gizmo Flash was scratched, with her connections opting to race in a six-furlong dash on Sunday.
Owlette, who paid $6.50 to win as the slight 2-1 favourite, was successful in her season’s debut after winning the Shady Well and Victorian Queen Stakes last year at Woodbine for owner Ted Broeck Farm.
Bred in Ontario by Michael Byrne, she now sports a career record reading 4-2-0 in six starts with $235,000 banked in purse earnings.
The Frac Daddy-Itstartswithadream filly made a great first impression on Lermyte, who picked up the mount as Patrick Husbands stayed aboard Curlin’s Voyage.
“I had the chance to get on her a few times in the morning and I was very confident, and she proved today that she has the ability,” said Lermyte. “The whole trip she kept me confident. When we turned for home, she was still nice and relaxed. I knew I had more – I had another gear – and I was confident the whole way.”
Commenting on Owlette’s ability to stretch out in distance, Lermyte noted that, “She went a mile and sixteenth [last year finishing second in the South Ocean Stakes] and she ran a good race. Wesley puts his horses on point, so you don’t have to worry about anything.”
“She [Artie’s Princess] gave me a very nice race. I was very happy with her so that’s two nice fillies,” said Lermyte.
In other action, Woodbine Oaks eligible Avie’s Samurai ($7.90) was an impressive winner in the afternoon’s opener, taking the lead in the turn and winning the $101,200 seven-furlong allowance optional claiming sprint by 4-3/4 lengths in 1:24.14.
Contreras was aboard the homebred First Samurai-Avie’s Sense filly for trainer Josie Carroll and owner Ivan Dalos.
The Queen's Plate nominated Golden Wave won his Woodbine debut with a 1:23.72 effort over seven furlongs in the fourth race, a $123,200 maiden allowance.
The Atreides-Tidal Surge colt pressed the pace and turned into the stretch with the lead en route to a two-length victory over Fort Hope for trainer Mike De Paulo and owner Mickey Demers. Justin Stein rode the 13-1 upsetter, who returned $29.30 to win.