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Last Call’s best shot good for first win in Johnnie Walker Natalma

September 17, 2022

TORONTO, September 17, 2022 – The appropriately-named Last Call, one of two maidens in a field of eight, took her best shot in Saturday’s Grade 1 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes and sprung a 21-1 upset in the one-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies.

The $508,000 Natalma was a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, which will be run this year at Keeneland on November 4.

“Yeah, obviously that’s very exciting,” said trainer Kevin Attard, while considering the tantalizing prospect of a Breeders’ Cup run with Last Call. “You know what I mean, a filly like her should get better with a little more time and a little more distance. It’s something we’re obviously going to have to discuss with the ownership group but I’m sure if all goes well, she’s earned her way there, so hopefully we have a date in Keeneland.”

Star Candy, trained by Mark Casse, took charge early from her outside post in the Natalma and showed the way by an even length through fractions of :24.27 and :49.20 with her stablemate Adora her closest pursuer.

Adora had moved to within a head of the leader after they straightened out through three-quarters in 1:12.76 but the backfield was in motion with Last Call looming prominently in the centre and Cairo Consort having swung to the outside to launch a strong bid.

Last Call and jockey Rafael Hernandez winning the Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes on Saturday at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)
Last Call and jockey Rafael Hernandez winning the Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes on Saturday at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)

Last Call had a 1 ½-length lead with a furlong to run, however, and refused to yield. Cairo Consort had to settle for second money with Maryland invader G Laurie, who was the 3-1 second choice, three-quarters of a length back in third.

Wickenheiser, also trained by Attard and sent off at 5-1, trailed the field early and rallied for fourth money, another two lengths back. Adora, Collecting Flatter, Courtly Ro and Star Candy completed the order of finish.

The final time for the Johnnie Walker Natalma was 1:36.49. Three races earlier, Mysterious Night (IRE) had captured the Summer Stakes, the colts and geldings counterpart to the Natalma, in 1:34.98.

Last Call, a $30,000 yearling in Kentucky last September, is owned by X-Men Racing 2 LLC and SF Racing LLC, who were involved in the ownership of recent Queen’s Plate heroine Moira, who also was trained by Attard and ridden by Hernandez.

A daughter of English Channel and Over Served, Last Call had begun her career with a second-place finish behind the graduating Cairo Consort, who had returned to win the Catch a Glimpse Stakes over the E.P. Taylor Course.

In her only subsequent outing, Last Call had finished a troubled fourth and raced without blinkers for the first time in her breakthrough score in the Natalma.

“We put the blinkers on early because she just wasn’t showing a whole lot in the beginning and then the lightbulb kind of kicked in and she just started working more impressive each time,” said Attard. “And we were obviously a little disappointed in her last start, but we thought she was a little rank, she wouldn’t relax and settle so we’ve taken the blinkers off.

“I think just now with a couple races of experience under her belt and obviously her pedigree leans to more distance she put it all together today.”

Last Call returned $44.30, $13.40 and $7.40. The exactor returned $138.80 with the triactor worth $574.60 and the $1 superfecta coming in at $1,046.10.

Bill Tallon, for Woodbine Communications 

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