Witwatersrand Rules the Ruling Angel

May 18, 2024

Witwatersrand (Michael Burns)

By Chris Lomon

TORONTO – Witwatersrand, under Patrick Husbands, cruised to an easy win in the $100,000 Ruling Angel Stakes Presented by Ketel One, Saturday at Woodbine. 

Making her third start of the year, the Mark Casse charge was full of run around the turn for home in the seven-furlong all-weather track race for 3-year-old fillies, going on to record a decisive four-length score.

C C Royal, another Casse trainee, secured the early lead and was shadowed to the outside by 2-1 second choice Sabatini, who was fresh off an impressive victory in the Star Shoot Stakes on April 27. The duo led the way through an opening panel in :23.25 and continued their upfront tussle after a half reached in :46.57.

Husbands, who was feted earlier in the card for his 30-year Woodbine riding career, was fifth and last as the field made its way into the final turn but Witwatersrand was rapidly gaining ground on the frontrunners.

That momentum continued as Witwatersrand split foes and then set sights on Sabatini, who had wrested the lead away from C C Royal.

From there, it was all Witwatersrand, as the daughter of Connect dashed away with ease for the second stakes win of her career.

“I had the best horse,” said Husbands of the filly who took last year’s Mazarine (G3) en route to a Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion 2-year-old Female. “I didn’t have to worry about how fast I’m going down the back – it was set up for me.”

The Gary Barber-owned sophomore was back on in the winner’s circle after a pair of tough results in Florida, including an eleventh in the Florida Oaks (G3T) at Tampa Bay Downs in March.

A return to Woodbine, where she launched her career with a win last September, proved to be the winning formula.

Bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey, Jr., Witwatersrand paid $4.60 for the win. Her record now stands at 3-0-1 from six starts.

Sabatini, A Little Frisky, Rosa and C C Royal rounded out the field. Do It Divi was scratched.

A $65,000 yearling purchase and then bought back for $37,000 as a 2-year-old in training in Ocala, Barber purchased Witwatersrand for $230,000 last October at the Fasig-Tipton Digital Sale.

Husbands, a three-time King’s Plate winner, was grateful for the celebration of his career.

“Coming to this racetrack, you come here with your goals. To achieve them is unbelievable. I feel so happy to be here at Woodbine and to make a name for myself and make my country proud. Every time I put the colours on, I know Barbados is on my shoulder. And I like to win – that is my passion.”

In other Woodbine news from Saturday, trainer Steve Attard won his 500th career race when Lantana Lady, at 11-1, took top prize in the seventh race, a five-furlong, $113,700 dash over the inner turf. Husbands was aboard for the milestone win.

Live racing resumes Sunday with a first post of 1:10 p.m. The featured race is the $100,000 King Corrie Stakes. 

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