|Jockey Justin Stein guides Strait of Dover to victory at the Queen's Plate yesterday at Woodbine Racetrack. (REUTERS)
TORONTO - Talk about good things coming to those who wait.
Smokey Fire, a horse who had not run in 20 months, came back to the races in winning style, capturing the $200,000 Highlander Stakes, one of five stakes events on the Queen’s Plate undercard.
“The horse was in great shape,” jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva said. “He hadn’t run in 1 1/2 years. But I had a lot of faith in him.”
The seven-year-old grey had won seven of 14 starts before being sent to the sidelines by trainer Sid Attard after his last start in October, 2010. Yesterday, he took advantage of a fast pace set by Essence Hit Man, working his way to a path on the outside where he could put on a late burst to win the six-furlong turf event.
Speaking of comebacks, Todd Kabel, who was away from racing for over two years before beginning a comeback a few weeks ago, captured his first stakes race since his return, guiding 15-1 long shot Riding the River to win the $250,000 King Edward Gold Cup.
The multiple Sovereign Award-winning rider held Riding The River at the back of the six-horse field early in the mile turf race, guiding him to the outside at the top of the stretch and capturing the lead in mid-stretch, holding off a game Big Band Sound to the wire. It was the seventh win in 17 career starts for the Dave Cotey-trained gelding.
In the $150,000 My Dear Stakes, Just Got In outlasted a very quick speed duel with Ju Ju Eyeballs and just hung on facing late charges from Lake Dancer and Evangeline’s Hope to win. Ridden by Chris Griffith for his brother Ricky, who trains her, Just Got In is now unbeaten in two starts.
In the $100,000 Trillium, Stars to Shine with Alex Solis aboard did just enough to get to the wire over a late-charging even-money favourite Upperline to win the 1 1/8-mile event. The Mark Frostad-trained five-year-old mare was making her first start of 2011 in capturing the second stakes win of her career.
And in the $150,000 Singspiel, 10-year-old Musketier showed he still has it, outgaming stablemate Simmard in a classic stretch duel to win by a short head with Ramon Dominguez aboard. Both horses are trained by Roger Attfield. The grey, bred in Germany, now has 11 wins in his long career.