Armstrong takes the $150K Clarendon under Sahin Civaci (Michael Burns)
By Chris Lomon – Woodbine Communications
TORONTO— Armstrong, under Sahin Civaci, took the co-featured $150,000 Clarendon Stakes Friday at Woodbine.
Sent off as the 5-2 choice in the race for Ontario-bred or Ontario-sired 2-year-olds, Armstrong broke alertly and was joined on the front end by longshot Rolling Hills, as three-time stakes winner and 3-5 choice Poulin in O T sat just off the pacesetters through an opening quarter reached in :22.67.
It was Poulin in O T, to the outside, and Armstrong, making his stakes debut, going head-to-head through a half in :46:19, as the duo started to put some distance between themselves and their three rivals.
Around the turn for home, Poulin in O T and Armstrong both dug in for the drive to the finish line, a battle that would last to the wire, with Armstrong eventually gaining the upper hand in the final strides to notch a neck score in a time of 1:11.61 for 6 furlongs. Paramount Prince was third, followed by Stubborn Streak and Rolling Hills.
“The plan was to sit back and let the speed go,” said Civaci, who had picked up the mount after Woodbine leading rider Kazushi Kimura departed for California to ride at Santa Anita for the winter. “But honestly, my horse popped out really well and there was no pressure, so I kept him up there. He’s a nice, classy little horse, behaves well and kicks down the lane pretty nice.”
Civaci was impressed by the rookie’s response in the stretch.
“Look, my horse is a pretty nice horse, and he was fighting back. Patrick’s horse was pretty tough to battle down the lane, but it was nice.”
A son of Mucho Macho Man, bred by Craig Cameron, Armstrong finished third in his debut, a 5 ½-furlong Tapeta race on July 17 at the Toronto oval.
The bay colt broke his maiden next time out, a half-length triumph as the 7-5 choice, in a race run at the same distance and over the same ground on November 6.
Trained by dual hall of famer Mark Casse for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Gary Barber, Armstrong, originally a $220,000 purchase at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, paid $7.20 for the win.
Fashionably Fab made it three straight wins after a strong performance in the $150,000 Shady Well Stakes, Friday at Woodbine.
The Kevin Attard trainee broke alertly, but yielded the lead to longshot Rifling, and was settled into second spot in the early going, sitting 1 ½ lengths behind the 11-1 frontrunner through an opening quarter timed in :23.03.
Fashionably Fab, with Rafael Hernandez in the irons, was then given her cue to take over the proceedings, as the daughter of Silent Name (JPN) seized control of the 2-year-old race for Ontario-bred or Ontario-sired fillies and held a half-length advantage after a half in :46.71.
Rounding the turn for home, Fashionably Fab looked well in charge along the rail, a length on top at the stretch call, as mutuel choice Me and My Shadow came knocking on the door but couldn’t get by her foe.
At the wire, Fashionably Fab, bred and owned by Terra Farms Ltd., was a three-quarter length winner in a time of 1:11.72. Me and My Shadow finished 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Witch Hazel for second, while Speed Trap, Anam Cara and Rifling rounded out the order of finish.
“Kevin told me in the paddock, ‘Rafi, this horse, you don’t have to be on the lead. Play it by ear.’ She got it done today. Like Kevin said, everything went perfect. I know my horse would give me everything down the lane and if they were going to by me, they would have to run faster.”
After finishing third in her September 10 debut, Fashionably Fab broke her maiden in style, an 11 ¼-length wire-to-wire romp at 7 furlongs over the Toronto oval Tapeta on October 9. Sent off at 1-5 in her start before the Shady Well, a 6 ½-furlong Tapeta race, she recorded a three-quarter length victory in 1:16.94.
Attard, who is enjoying another outstanding season at Woodbine, including a win with Moira in the Queen’s Plate (now known as the King’s Plate), is looking forward to seeing his emerging star develop.
“I wasn’t really concerned [with how the trip played out], to be honest. I just told “Raf” that if she broke running, that’s fine, but if not, by no means to kind of push her along. I think the further she goes, the better she’ll be. She has such early foot, that when she was going 7 [furlongs] when she broke her maiden, and 6 ½ in her last start, she just kind of inherits the lead. I look forward to seeing her stretch out because I think she’s a filly with a lot of upside.”
Fashionably Fab paid $7.20 for the win.