TORONTO, August 15, 2020 – Leading jockey Rafael Hernandez collected his third straight stakes win on the Saturday program at Woodbine, as he sent March to the Arch from last to first in the $175,000 King Edward Stakes (Grade 2) for trainer Mark Casse.
The Grade 2 victory followed up successive scores for Hernandez in the Grade 3 Bold Venture with Pink Lloyd and Plate Trial with Clayton.
March to the Arch trailed the field of eight in the one-mile turf test to the final turn where he improved position along the rail and was angled outside by Hernandez to haul down the front-running graded stakes winners.
Admiralty Pier, who won the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes in February, set the pace a half-length in front while racing outside of recent Grade 2 Connaught Cup winner Silent Poet and two-time Grade 3 Seagram Cup champ Mr Ritz through a quarter in :23.90.
The Barb Minshall-trained Admiralty Pier continued to lead through a half-mile in :46.23 with Silent Poet in pursuit and then rebuffed a final turn challenge from Argentello as he pulled clear at the three-quarters mark in 1:09.24.
However, the late-closing March to the Arch swept by with a sixteenth of a mile to go, winning in 1:32.28. Admiralty Pier finished 2-1/4 lengths behind in second, with Silent Poet two lengths back in third.
Mr Ritz finished fourth while 2-1 favourite Delaware, the Casse-trained Dream Maker, Eskiminzin and Argentello completed the finish order.
“It is [good to see him get a graded stakes win], he’s such a lovely little horse, he tries every time. He’s just really special,” said Kathryn Sullivan, assistant trainer for Casse, who won the 2008 King Edward with Royal Oath.
A winner in the 2018 Toronto Cup over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, March to the Arch was sent postward as the 7-2 second choice and paid $9.60 to win.
The five-year-old Arch gelding entered the King Edward off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs.
“You know, the race at Churchill was a really tough race; a lot of good horses came out of that race, so it looks a little better, but he’s just such a nice horse. He tries every time.
“Rafael rode a great race — three stakes in a row for him today, so he’s certainly riding well,” added Sullivan. “I just thought he rode a really smart race, took his time, waited until he got his spot. I think he came out of the gate a little awkward, bumping with another horse but Rafael’s so smart, he doesn’t get panicked, just took his time and waited for the right moment to pull the trigger.”
March to the Arch now has seven career wins from 22 starts and nearly $750,000 in purse earnings for owner/breeder Live Oak Plantation.