The shoe fits for Matt's

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Robert Mitchell had a very simple motto for the Canadian Derby: Go hard or go home.

That explains why he paid the bill to bring a blacksmith from Toronto's Woodbine racetrack on last-minute notice on Friday to repair Matt's Broken Vow's injured foot.

The cost of the flight to Edmonton and John Staples's services were definitely worth it because Matt's Broken Vow is the 79th Derby champion after a gutsy stretch-drive battle with Texas Wildcatter yesterday at Northlands Park.

Owned by Mitchell, the Ontario-based three-year-old thoroughbred lost the lead by a nose at the top of the stretch, but somehow found more in the tank to not only pass Texas Wildcatter but beat him by two and a quarter lengths.

"We were fortunate that (Staples) was able to come and help us out," said winning trainer Josie Carroll, who requested the special blacksmith service after Matt's Broken Vow was limping around the barn on Friday.

"The shoe (on the foot) had shifted, he had a bit of a hot heel (Friday morning).

"We brought John Staples; he knows the horse. The horse has a funny shaped foot. For $300,000 you bring the best guy you know."

The $300,000 Canadian Derby is the richest race in Western Canada. The winner's share of the purse is $180,000.

When the foot problem was noticed on Friday morning, the shoe was taken off the foot and the call made to Staples.

He was able to place the same shoe back on Matt's Broken Vow's foot and make it comfortable enough so he could win Edmonton's most prestigious race.

Making the victory even sweeter for Mitchell is the fact the colt is named after his nine-year-old son Matt.

"It is so exciting. It is just a thrill," said Mitchell, with his son and daughter Laurie at his side after the winner's circle pictures. "It is indescribable (from there). Having the kids with me it is something they will remember for the rest of their lives."

Matt will be able to tell some entertaining stories when he returns to school in Saskatoon this fall considering the Kentucky-bred colt has now captured back-to-back Derby titles after winning in Manitoba on Aug. 4.

And Matt's Broken Vow could be heading for a Western Derby hat trick if he enters the B.C. Derby on Sept. 21 in Vancouver.

But in the Canadian Derby, plenty of the credit goes to jockey Emile Ramsammy, who stalked the early pacesetters - One Only and Bears Tiger - before grabbing the lead in the final turn.

"It was an outstanding ride," said Mitchell. "We were in a good position the whole race."

Matt's Broken Vow didn't have the lead for very long in the final turn in the one-mile and three-eighths marathon before Texas Wildcatter passed him for a few fleeting seconds.

But Ramsammy knew what he was doing under intense pressure.

"I hit the lead in cruise and then I realized he was waiting for (Texas Wildcatter)," said Ramsammy. "I thought if (Texas Wildcatter) comes and runs by him, I still had enough horse to go on and persevere."

Ramsammy was right, winning the Derby in a whirlwind trip to Edmonton from his regular home in Toronto.

Matt's Broken Vow now has $380,000 in career earnings.

Sent off at 7-2 odds, he paid $9.40 to win.

The official order of finish: Matt's Broken Vow, Texas Wildcatter, Cool Ventura, Papa Time, Bears Tiger, Royal Hudson, Reel Prime, One Only, Discreet Commander and Saratoga Avenue.


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