TORONTO, July 26, 2020 – Defending champion Mr. Ritz was the star of the show once again in the $125,000 Seagram Cup (Grade 3) on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
Hall of Fame trainer Josie Carroll conditions the winner, who turned in a gate-to-wire effort with Patrick Husbands aboard. Husbands, who also partnered with Carroll to win the 2011 edition of the Seagram Cup with James Street, earned his fifth victory in the 1-1/16-mile stakes event for older horses.
Explode applied early pressure to the front-runner through splits of :24.28 and :47.95, with recent Eclipse Stakes winner Skywire looming at the rail and Cooler Mike three-wide before offering up a challenge past three-quarters in 1:11:87. However, 6-5 favourite Mr. Ritz turned back all challengers down the stretch to prevail by two lengths in 1:43.28.
Second prize went to Skywire, who finished a half-length in front of Cooler Mike. Avie’s Flatter, also trained by Carroll, closed four-wide on the turn to claim fourth-place. Jungle Fighter, Tiz a Slam, Perfect Tapatino and Explode completed the field.
“When he made the lead, I was a little worried with that horse [Explode] pressuring him, but he was so relaxed,” said Carroll in a post-race interview. “You could tell he was very relaxed and then we he got a :24 [quarter], I said, ‘You know what, they’re not going to catch him today.’”
Mr. Ritz returned $4.60 to win.
Earle Mack owns and bred the British-bred son of Oasis Dream who opened his five-year-old campaign finishing third behind stablemate Avie’s Flatter and Skywire in the Eclipse on July 4.
“I was a little bit disappointed [in his season’s debut], but he definitely got a little tired. He needed that race, he had all winter off and it showed a little bit,” said Carroll. “We thought he was very, very tight – he had been excelling in his works – but there’s nothing like a race to really tighten him up, especially at this level of competition.”
Mr Ritz now sports a career record reading 6-3-2 from 13 starts with earnings approaching the half-million-dollar mark.
“He’s won stakes on both surfaces. I think he’s just a good older horse that’s coming into himself,” said Carroll.
The conditioner also watched Woodbine Oaks eligible filly Avie’s Samurai ($8.60) win a 6-1/2-furlong allowance race later on the card. Ivan Dalos’ homebred stakes-placed filly got up late to prevail by a neck over the favoured Sav in 1:16.39 in rein to Luis Contreras.
Live Thoroughbred racing continues, without spectators, on Thursday, with the 30th day of the meet featuring eight races, beginning at 3:20 p.m. Racing Night Live returns at 6 p.m. on TSN with the two-hour broadcast covering action from Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park.