TORONTO, October 10, 2021— Two years ago, Special Forces missed winning the Grade 3 Durham Cup by the slimmest of margins. On Sunday at Woodbine, he came out on top in the $155,100 event.
Trained by Kevin Attard, Special Forces, a six-year-old son of Candy Ride, didn’t have one start to his name in 2020.
This year, he’s making up for lost time.
Sent off at 6-1 in a field that featured Mighty Heart, Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year, 2019 Belmont Stakes champ Sir Winston, and graded stakes winner Tap It to Win, Special Forces didn’t receive nearly as much fanfare as his rivals ahead of the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race for three-year-olds and upwards.
And although he wasn’t a presence early, the chestnut gelding was a force when it counted most.
It was Tap It to Win, fresh off a victory in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup, who led the way into the first turn and through an opening quarter in :24.17. Halo Again, back in action after more than a year away from the races, was a close second, while Mighty Heart and Sir Winston sat third and fourth, respectively, Special Forces, with Justin Stein in the irons for the first time, was fifth and trailing.
Tap It to Win continued to set the pace through a half timed :47.96, as the cat-and-mouse game between the five rivals began to take shape.
Around the turn, it was anybody’s race, with the tightly bunched trio of Special Forces, on the outside, Sir Winston in the middle, and Halo Again, to the inside, began to separate themselves from the other pair.
At the wire, Special Forces emerged a half-length winner, with Sir Winston taking second, two lengths ahead of Halo Again.
A stewards’ inquiry into the top three finishers resulted in no changes.
“I worked him a couple times and he’s a lot of horse,” said Stein. “I was just the lucky jock to get on him. Kevin and his team have done an amazing job with him. He crushed today. He’s a champ.”
Attard was thrilled to see his veteran campaigner make his first trip to the winner’s circle since November 3, 2019, when Special Forces took the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes at Woodbine.
“We had to be very patient with him. Obviously, the COVID season kind of hampered his chances of getting back last year, but we elected to kind of back off and give him the rest of the year off.
“He was disrespected today, but this horse was probably one of the better older horses on the grounds here in 2019 and kind of got disrespected today… but showed his true colours.”
Bred by Machmer Hall, Carrie Brogden and Craig Brogden, Special Forces is now 6-6-2 from 20 starts for owners Soli Mehta and Partner.
He paid $15.60 for the win.
Just one week remains in the Rethink Breast Cancer charity auction https://www.32auctions.com/LadiesOfTheLawn. As part of Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn Series, Woodbine is supporting Rethink Breast Cancer. Racing enthusiasts can bid on specially designed pillows created from new saddle towels featuring the Rethink Breast Cancer logo. Proceeds from the online auction will be donated to ReThink Breast Cancer to assist those living with breast cancer.
– Woodbine Communications