TORONTO, June 27, 2019—Emmaus, a sharp second when making his local bow in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup, will be looking to go one better as he returns from his Kentucky base for Saturday’s Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine.
The $175,000 King Edward, a one-mile turf race for three-year-olds and upward, attracted a field of eight.
El Tormenta, winner of the Connaught Cup at seven furlongs on the E.P. Taylor course, has opted for Saturday’s Grade 1 Highlander at six furlongs on the grass.
The five-year-old Emmaus, winner of a pair of listed stakes in England and purchased at auction there last October, was a good runner-up to the multiple turf stakes winner Therapist when making his North American bow in Belmont’s Elusive Quality at seven furlongs on the turf this April.
“His two races over here have been really good, and I’d like to think there’s more to come,” said trainer and co-owner Conor Murphy, who conditions the son of Invincible Spirit for M and J Thoroughbreds LLC and Riverside Bloodstock LLC.
“We were very happy with his run in the Connaught Cup. That race seems to have really sharpened him up and I’ve always sensed that he’d be a better horse over a mile. Hopefully, he goes out and proves that he is.”
Murphy has enjoyed success on the graded turf stakes here in the past, winning the 2016 King Edward and Connaught Cup and the 2013 Play the King with Dimension.
Woodbine-based David Moran was aboard for those victories and retains the mount on Emmaus.
Synchrony, owned and bred by Pin Oak Stable, is far and away the top money-winner in the King Edward with his record including five graded turf stakes wins for trainer Michael Stidham.
The six-year-old Tapit horse is cutting back to a mile after finishing a close second in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the lawn.
“His last start was kind of controversial,” said Stidham, who is based at Fair Hill in Maryland. “As he was making his move, the leader was drifting out badly through the stretch. It hindered his progress, but it wasn’t enough to take the number down. I think we ran the best horse that day.
“The horse is doing really well, training well. After we investigated this race it looked like a good spot for the money, and a Grade 2, to take a shot at it. It’s probably a little shorter than his best distance but he’s very tactical. If they’re going really fast he’ll be a little further back. If they’re slowing it down, he’ll be closer. If they’re slowing it down, he’ll be a little closer up.”
Javier Castellano, here to ride morning-line favourite Avie’s Flatter in the Queen’s Plate, gains the mount on Synchrony.
Mr Ritz, a lightly-raced four-year-old colt who was bred in England by owner Earle Mack, was a winner over a synthetic strip in his lone start in his homeland and joined trainer Josie Carroll’s stable here for his sophomore campaign.
After shipping to Indiana Downs to capture the Caesars Stakes over one mile of turf last September, Mr Ritz wound up his first North American campaign with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby at 1 1/8 miles on the Tapeta.
Returning this May in the Grade 2 Eclipse at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, Mr Ritz set all the pace only to be nipped on the money by Souper Tapit.
“I think he’s an improving horse,” said Carroll. “I think he’s really matured this year and I’m really excited about running him here. I think he prefers the turf.”
Leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva returns aboard Mr Ritz.
Curlin’s Honor, winner of the six-furlong Woodstock Stakes here last year as a three-year-old, has faced Mr Ritz on two previous occasions, finishing fifth in the Caesars and second in the Ontario Derby.
After opening up his current campaign with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Jacques Cartier at six furlongs on the Tapeta, Curlin’s Honor was beaten just a length when a solid third in the Connaught Cup.
“He’s a horse that is I think getting better, and can continue to get better,” said Casse. “I think a mile will suit him really well.”
Flavien Prat, in town to ride morning-line second choice One Bad Boy in the Queen’s Plate, will pick up the mount.
Rounding out the field will be Rose’s Vision, winner of last summer’s Better Talk Now Stakes over one mile of turf at Saratoga; Savage Battle, fifth in the Connaught Cup and making his second local start; Say the Word, second here in the 2018 Breeders’ over 1 ½ miles of turf, now returning from his Fair Hill, base; and Vanish, runner-up here in last year’s Grade 2 Play the King at seven furlongs on the turf.
Here is the complete field in post position order:
$175,000 Kind Edward Stakes (Grade 2)
1/Vanish/Kazushi Kimura/Vito Armata
2/Synchrony/Javier Castellano/Michael Stidham
3/Say the Word/Junior Alvarado/Graham Motion
4/Savage Battle/Rafael Hernandez/Nick Nosowenko
5/Mr Ritz/Eurico Rosa da Silva/Josie Carroll
6/Curlin’s Honor/Flavien Prat/Mark Casse
7/Emmaus/David Moran/Conor Murphy
8/Rosie’s Vision/Gary Boulanger/Stuart Simon