TORONTO, June 6, 2018 — Saturday could be a very big day at Woodbine for trainer Mark Casse, who will field probable odds-on favourites Wonder Gadot for the Woodbine Oaks Presented By Budweiser and Telekinesis for the Plate Trial. But first comes the not-so-minor matter of the Alywow, a $100,000 open stakes for three-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf course which includes three Casse trainees among its seven entrants.
Road to Victory, two-for-two last year with a seven-furlong turf win here and a Grade 2 score in the 1 1/16 mile Golden Rod at Churchill Downs, will be joined by stablemates Sly Beauty and Closer Still in the Alywow.
The Kentucky-bred Road to Victory, owned by Gary Barber and John Oxley, will be making her first start since November 25 but has been working well.
“We’re very excited about Road to Victory,” said Casse. “We think she’s an exceptional filly. We’ve been looking for a spot to bring her back, and we think this is a good spot.”
Casse also points out that Road to Victory is the only horse to defeat Monomoy Girl, hanging a neck defeat on that budding superstar in the Golden Rod. Monomoy Girl is six-for-seven with her recent successes coming in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and the Grade 1 Ashland.
Gary Boulanger, who rode Road to Victory to her maiden win here last year, regains the mount.
Sly Beauty and Closer Still ran 1-2 here last time out in the six-furlong Star Shoot.
Eurico Rosa da Silva retains the mount on Sly Beauty and Patrick Husbands will be back aboard Closer Still.
Casse has won three editions of the Alywow with Mississippi Delta (2015), Dene Court (2012) and Silky Smooth (2007).
Husbands rode Dene Court and Silky Smooth and additional Alywows with New Normal (2011) and Somme (2010).
Magic Spell, fourth in the Star Shoot, also will swing back into action in the Alywow.
The Kentucky-bred, owned by John Menary in partnership with trainer Gail Cox, won first crack out on the Tapeta here last year and finished third in a 5 1/2 furlong first-level turf allowance in her sophomore bow at Keeneland.
“Her last race was very good,” said Cox. “She had a bit of trouble, and was taken back, and that made it a big tough on her.
“I think she’ll like the six and a half, and I think she’ll like the grass better, but we’ll see.”
The Alywow also attracted shippers Africa, from New York; Originator, based in Kentucky; and Madame X., of Pennsylvania.
Africa, conditioned by Chad Brown, is coming off a second-place finish, beaten a head over six furlongs of turf in Aqueduct’s Mizdirection.
Originator’s latest was a second-place finish for conditioner Ian Wilkes in a five-furlong entry-level turf allowance at Churchill Downs.
Madame X. ran third when competing under first-level allowance terms at Presque Isle Downs last time out and ended second last year in Laurel’s Selima at six furlongs on the grass. She is trained by Susan Cooney.
The Alywow Stakes is named in honour of the very talented turf performer who was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 1994 for owner Kinghaven Farm and trainer Roger Attfield.
Alywow was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.
$100,000 Alywow Stakes
1/Road to Victory/Gary Boulanger/Mark Casse
2/Originator/Rafael Hernandez/Ian Wilkes
3/Magic Spell/Chantal Sutherland/Gail Cox
4/Closer Still/Patrick Husbands/Mark Casse
5/Sly Beauty/Eurico Rosa da Silva/Mark Casse
6/Madame X./David Moran/Susan Cooney
7/Africa/Luis Contreras/Chad Brown