TORONTO, December 9, 2022 – Armstrong, under Sahin Civaci, took the co-featured $150,000 Clarendon Stakes Friday at Woodbine.
Sent off as the 5-2 choice in the race for Ontario-bred or Ontario-sired 2-year-olds, Armstrong broke alertly and was joined on the front end by longshot Rolling Hills, as three-time stakes winner and 3-5 choice Poulin in O T sat just off the pacesetters through an opening quarter reached in :22.67.
It was Poulin in O T, to the outside, and Armstrong, making his stakes debut, going head-to-head through a half in :46:19, as the duo started to put some distance between themselves and their three rivals.
Around the turn for home, Poulin in O T and Armstrong both dug in for the drive to the finish line, a battle that would last to the wire, with Armstrong eventually gaining the upper hand in the final strides to notch a neck score in a time of 1:11.61 for 6 furlongs. Paramount Prince was third, followed by Stubborn Streak and Rolling Hills.
“The plan was to sit back and let the speed go,” said Civaci, who had picked up the mount after Woodbine leading rider Kazushi Kimura departed for California to ride at Santa Anita for the winter. “But honestly, my horse popped out really well and there was no pressure, so I kept him up there. He’s a nice, classy little horse, behaves well and kicks down the lane pretty nice.”
Civaci was impressed by the rookie’s response in the stretch.
“Look, my horse is a pretty nice horse, and he was fighting back. Patrick’s horse was pretty tough to battle down the lane, but it was nice.”
A son of Mucho Macho Man, bred by Craig Cameron, Armstrong finished third in his debut, a 5 ½-furlong Tapeta race on July 17 at the Toronto oval.
The bay colt broke his maiden next time out, a half-length triumph as the 7-5 choice, in a race run at the same distance and over the same ground on November 6.
Trained by dual hall of famer Mark Casse for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Gary Barber, Armstrong, originally a $220,000 purchase at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, paid $7.20 for the win.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms