Sam-Son Farms’ homebred Up With the Birds rallied last-to-first to capture Saturday'sGrade 2 $236,400 Nijinsky Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Malcolm Pierce and expertly ridden by Eurico Rosa da Silva, Up With the Birds was in full flight for the stretch run to win going away. It was the second stakes win on the card for da Silva who earlier captured the Ontario Damsel Stakes with Regal Conqueror.
Up With the Birds, Canada’s reigning horse of the year, posted a record of 4-2-0 from six starts in 2013 including wins in the Black Gold Stakes at the Fair Grounds, and the Marine and Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine to go along with a tremendous Grade 1 victory in the Jamaica Handicap, at Belmont, to complete his sophomore season.
The Stormy Atlantic-Song of the Lark bay was earning his first win of the campaign following a sixth-place run at Keeneland and a deceptively good sixth-place effort in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico when defeated just 2 ¼-lengths by Utley.
Five Iron and Really Sharp set a swift pace in the Nijinsky battling through splits of :46.23 and 1:09.94 as da Silva waited patiently at the back of the pack.
River Seven loomed large as the field straightened away, but there was no denying the late run of Up With the Birds who flew home a four-length winner in a final running time of 1:45.74. Dynamic Sky closed for place over River Seven.
“He’s a very nice horse,” said da Silva. “I wanted to do the same as I do in the morning and let him relax. He always works really well like that.
“I want to see him very confident in himself. Even more (lengths) back it doesn’t matter, I just want him to be very comfortable with his stride, because I know when he turns, he comes very strong. In the stretch, I didn’t even make him run. I just let him be happy and he was happy stretching out.”
Pierce was pleased with the effort of his charge who arrived at the Nijinsky with a quick five furlong turf breeze in 1:00.60 on the tab.
“He’s had a couple of really good works coming into this race,” said Pierce. “He’s in good order and when you have a good horse right, they’re dangerous.”
Up With the Birds banked $144,000 in victory while improving his career record to 7-2-1 from 12 starts.
He returned $9, $3.90 and $4.10, pairing with Dynamic Sky ($10.90, $4.90 for a $99.60 (7-2) exactor. A 7-2-1 (River Seven, $4 to show) triactor was worth $407.40. Dorsett completed a $1 Superfecta (7-2-1-6) worth $1353.60.
Regal Conqueror reigns in Ontario Damsel
Regal Conqueror battled bravely down the lane to take the co-featured Ontario Damsel Stakes for Ontario-bred juvenile fillies, Saturday at Woodbine.
The William Sorokolit homebred, trained by Darwin Banach, was making her turf debut in the one-turn mile with Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons. It was the second career stakes score for the Sky Conqueror chestnut, having notched a victory in September's Victorian Queen Stakes, at Woodbine.
Fancy Ribbons set the pace in the Ontario Damsel marking off splits of :23.79 and :47.04, with Skylander Girl and Shezaghostslayer tracking her lead.
Skylander Girl took over from Fancy Ribbons at the top of the lane, but could not hold off a determined stretch run from Regal Conqueror who prevailed by a half-length in a final running time of 1:34.11.
Skylander Girl held for place over a determined Fancy Ribbons. The favoured Llanarmon never got untracked finishing fifth.
"She broke really sharp and then did today what she doesn't do on the Polytrack, which is relax," said da Silva. "When I put her behind horses, she was so relaxed. I had tons of horse and she ran brilliant today."
Banach pointed to the filly's superb turf breeding as a major factor in the result.
"Sky Conqueror was the best horse I ever trained. He made two million on the grass and her mum (Classic Stamp) made one million on the grass..." said Banach. "It was nice to see her come through on the grass and relax for Eurico like she did and pick it up down the lane for us."
Regal Conqueror earned $90,000 in victory, improving her record to three wins from six starts.
She paid $16.20, $7.10 and $7.60, combining with Skylander Girl ($8.20,$8.40) for a $121.20 (5-3) exactor. A 7-2-3 (Fancy Ribbons, $7.10) triactor was worth $436, while a $1 Superfecta [7-2-3-4 (Lapsang] came back $1647.50].