TORONTO, July 8, 2020 – City Boy, who pulled off a 24-1 upset in last year’s Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes, faces seven rivals on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course in Saturday’s Grade 2 $175,000 Connaught Cup Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by 2020 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Mike Keogh, the six-year-old gelding, bred and co-owned (with Donald Howard) by the late Gus Schickedanz, brings a record of 3-6-2 from 17 starts into the seven-furlong Connaught Cup.
“He had a fairly good winter,” said Keogh, who had City Boy and others in his barn with him in Aiken, South Carolina. “We had a lot of rain in February, so there were a lot of sealed racetracks. I didn’t really get to do much with any of my horses in February. Then we had to get out of there in the third week of March, so we didn’t get too much done this winter, to be honest.”
A son of multiple graded stakes winner City Zip, City Boy debuted on April 21, 2017, finishing second in a five-furlong main track race at Woodbine.
The Ontario-bred broke his maiden next time out, one month later, in a 6 1/2-furlong turf race at the Toronto oval, drawing clear in the stretch to win by a length as the 9-5 favourite.
His next win came that August, a head score at six furlongs on the Woodbine turf.
Just over two years later, City Boy delivered his connections with his biggest win to date, another gutsy head victory, this time in last October’s six-furlong, $280,900 Nearctic.
It was the second Nearctic triumph for Keogh, who took the 1999 renewal with Clever Response.
“No, I wasn’t,” said Keogh when asked if he was caught off-guard by City Boy’s performance. “We had run him two weeks previous – it was a really fast time – and he wasn’t beaten that far. He was hung wide the whole way. Jesse [jockey, Campbell] got off him and said, ‘This horse, he needs two races back-to-back.’ I told him that I had nominated him to the Nearctic on the off chance it came up as an easier field. As it turned out, there weren’t many shippers and he ran huge.”
City Boy arrives at the Connaught Cup off a sixth-place effort in a six-furlong main track race last November at Woodbine.
Saturday’s stake marks the first time he’ll test seven panels.
“He’s doing great,” said Keogh, who campaigned Schickedanz’s Wando to Canadian Triple Crown glory in 2003. “The Connaught is an unknown because he’s never been seven-eighths before. We’re going to give this a go. He needs to run. You can’t keep working him… he goes crazy. The first start of the year, they’re always that bit more on the bridle. But he needs a start. That’s why we’re running him.”
City Boy reminds Keogh of a Canadian horse racing legend, a standout on and off the racetrack.
“I’ll tell you who he reminds me of. When I first came to Canada after [fellow Hall of Fame inductee and trainer] Jerry Meyer had brought me over from England, he was training Bold Ruckus, who was a two-year-old at that time. City Boy reminds me of Bold Ruckus, and I used to gallop him back in those days. And he’s out of a Bold Ruckus mare [Princess Ruckus]. He’s a horse that tries very hard. He’s a lovely horse and one of my favourites.”
El Tormenta, who went on to take the 2019 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, won last year’s Connaught Cup in a time of 1:20.29. Jockey Robin Platts has won a record eight editions of the race, including back-to-back runnings (1968-69) with James Bay.
The Connaught Cup is Race 7 on Saturday’s 10-race card. First post time is 1 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com.
FIELD FOR THE $175,000 CONNAUGHT CUP
POST – HORSE – JOCKEY – TRAINER
1 – Silent Poet – Justin Stein – Nicholas Gonzalez
2 – White Flag – Luis Contreras – Christophe Clement
3 – Blind Ambition – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
4 – Admiralty Pier – Jerome Lermyte – Barbara Minshall
5 – Regally Irish – Steven Bahen – Graham Motion
6 – City Boy – Davy Moran – Mike Keogh
7 – Olympic Runner – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse
8 – Gray’s Fable – Rafael Hernandez – Roger Attfield