TORONTO, June 19, 2022 – Mason’s Gamble, a four-year-old son of Gamble’s Exchange-Dynaco, held on gamely to take all the spoils in Sunday’s $100,800 Ontario Jockey Club Stakes, at Woodbine.
It was an early scramble for the lead, as four horses left the gate running, with longshot Sunspear eventually emerging on top, as Mason’s Gamble, under Rafael Hernandez, was positioned a close third through an opening quarter in :22.62.
Sunspear, at 59-1, continued to set the tone through a half timed in :45.29, as Mason’s Gamble, now second, and Souper Success, a head back in third, kept up the pressure on the pacesetter.
As the 10-horse field made the turn for home, Hernandez called on the bay colt, and the Josie Carroll trainee responded, looming as a major threat as the field straightened for the stretch drive.
A head back of Sunspear at the stretch call, Mason’s Gamble, bred by Ivan Dalos and owned by ATA Stables, Inc., dug in late and fended off a late-charging Candy Overload to record a half-length win. Secret Reserve was third and Red River Rebel was fourth.
The final time for six furlongs over the Tapeta in the race Ontario-sired four-year-olds and upwards was 1:09.51. There was a short delay before the victory was made official, the result of a claim of foul by the rider of Eskiminzin.
Mason’s Gamble, who came into the race off a sixth-place finish in his 2022 debut, notched his fifth lifetime victory, to go along with one second, from nine career starts.
“He was awfully sharp off the winter off,” explained Carroll, of the effort prior to the Ontario Jockey Club. “He came into the paddock and was much edgier than usual. I think he was just too sharp and pushed too hard on himself early, and just folded up a little late. When I saw the fractions he was getting [today], those are the fractions he likes to run. I thought we’d be really tough where we were sitting, and I had a lot of confidence in Rafael pushing him home.”
Carroll was pleased to see the horse net his first stakes win, and his connections celebrate the milestone moment.
“These guys are having so much fun. They’re actually friends with the Dalos family, who bred this horse. There is a lot of camaraderie between them and the breeder, so it just makes it a whole lot of fun.”
After a seventh-place finish to launch his career on October 4, 2020 – his only race that year – Mason’s Gamble broke his maiden next time out, in June 2021, and doubled up three weeks later. His only previous stakes experience was a second in last year’s Elgin Stakes.
Mason’s Gamble returned $12.60, $7.10 and $5.10 and combined with Candy Overload ($10.10 $5.40) for a $118.50 exactor. Secret Reserve ($3.50) completed a triactor worth $552.30. A $1 superfecta (Red River Rebel) came back $975.35.
Earlier in the card, Epilogue, a seven-year-old son of Smooth Bid-Gold Else, became the first horse to win three races at the 2022 Woodbine meet. Owned and trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Robert Tiller, the Ontario-bred gelding, under Skye Chernetz, paid $10.40 for the win.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms