|Julien Leparoux guided Never Retreat (front left) to a half-length victory in the $300,000 Canadian Stakes at Woodbine Race Track on Sunday.
The Woodbine Mile wasn’t Julien Leparoux’s only major win Sunday.
He also guided Never Retreat to a half-length victory in the $300,000 Canadian Stakes. Unlike Turallure, Leparoux allowed Never Retreat to be camped out just behind pace-setter Woolly Bear early in the 11/8-mile event. The Chris Block trainee grabbed command at the top of the stretch and held off a late charge by local runner Perfect Shirl to win in 1:45.13.
“She broke good and put me in the race nice,” Block said. “She relaxed beautifully for me. She got to the lead very early but she kept on going. She’s a nice filly.”
A 6-year-old mare by Smart Strike, Never Retreat’s win pushed her past the $1-million mark in career earnings. A winner of the Dance Smartly Stakes earlier this year, Never Retreat seems to like the Woodbine course and Block may opt to bring her back for the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes next month.
Wigmore Hall, ridden by Jamie Spencer, captured the $500,000 Northern Dancer Turf. Breaking from the middle of the eight-horse field, Wigmore Hall settled behind a slow pace set by Bourbon Bay early in the 11/2-mile event. He camped near the rail throughout the race and that worked to his advantage at the top of the stretch as he waited until then to make his move.
Local runner Simmard had taken the lead with Al Khali making his run on the outside. With about a half-furlong remaining, Wigmore Hall took command and scored as the 7-5 favourite in 2:30.67. Simmard outlasted Al Khali for second.
“He’s very brave,” Spencer said. “It was a slow pace and an extremely messy race. I was a bit worried, but he beat a Group 1 winner (Poet’s Voice, in a Grade 2 race in Dubai) over a mile in his first start of the year, so he’s got a good turn of foot.”
The four-year-old son of High Chaparral now has six wins in 18 career starts. He made some noise on this side of the Atlantic previously, finishing second in the 2010 Secretariat Stakes and fourth in last month’s Arlington Million. He was third in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in March. The Northern Dancer usually produces horses for the $2 million Canadian International next month which is an option for him as is the Breeders’ Cup Turf should trainer Michael Bell choose.