TORONTO, August 1, 2021 —With the cheering still echoing following Munnyfor Ro’s Woodbine Oaks victory for trainer Kevin Attard and jockey Justin Stein, Amalfi Coast gave the dynamic duo a second straight stakes with a narrow win in Sunday’s Grade 2 Royal North Handicap.
But while Munnyfor Ro’s winning margin was decisive it was up to the photo finish camera to separate Amalfi Coast and Jeanie B (GB), with the shortest of noses separating the pair at the end of the $196,000 six-furlong turf race clocked in 1:09.15 over “firm” going.
“She’s push-button to ride; very professional horse,” said Stein, who had stayed just off the pace while engineering a perfect rail-running trip aboard the winner. “She knows what she’s doing. I’ve watched her run and got to be fortunate enough to ride her and steer her around a few times. When I pulled the trigger, she gives me everything she’s got. She came over ready and is a pleasure to be around. She’s a really nice horse.”
Jeanie B (GB), looking to give trainer Mark Casse a second straight Royal North win, pressed the front-running Sister Peacock through fractions of:22.78 and :45.83 and seemed headed for victory after taking charge and reaching the furlong pole with a length advantage.
But Amalfi Coast was closing hard and got the nod over the game runner-up with the even-money favorite Change of Control another half-length back in third.
Change of Control, the first Canadian starter for trainer Michelle Lovell, had a perfect stalking trip but lacked a decisive finishing kick while ending third.
Lady Grace, who won last year’s Royal North for Casse, finished fourth with Fairywren, Sister Peacock and Jeanie B (GB) rounding out the order of finish.
Lead Guitar, invading from Saratoga for trainer George Weaver, broke behind the field and was deemed to have received an unfair start, with the stewards ordering a full pari-mutuel refund.
The 5-year-old Amalfi Coast, a homebred who races for the Dom Romeo family’s Terra Racing Stable, was winning her fifth stakes race after becoming a graded stakes winner in Woodbine’s Grade 2 Bessarabian over seven furlongs of Tapeta last fall.
In her 2021 debut, Amalfi Coast ha finished third, beaten one length in the Grade 3 Whimsical at six furlongs on the synthetic surface.
The daughter of Tapizar is out of the mare Include Katherine, the dam of last year’s Canadian Oak runner-up Afleet Katherine.
“It’s a funny game,” said Attard. “She’s a special horse. Last year she ran into some issues — some bad luck and a little throat issue early on. I kind of mismanaged her maybe a little bit wrong, so this year we came in with a different game plan. She’s really appreciated that and she’s showing the horse that she’s capable of being.”
Sunday’s victory was the second Royal North score for trainer Attard, who captured the 2018 edition with Way To Versailles.
Amalfi Coast returned $9.60 for a $2 win ticket.
– Bill Tallon for Woodbine.com