TORONTO, July 18, 2019 – Team Valor’s Oleksandra will look to make her Canadian debut a winning one in Sunday’s Grade 2 $175,000 Royal North Stakes, at Woodbine.
A promising five-year-old homebred from Animal Kingdom’s first crop in Australia, Oleksandra boasts four wins, two seconds and a third from nine lifetime starts.
The bay mare heads into the six-furlong turf sprint off back-to-back scores, including a gutsy, come-from-behind neck score over six panels on the Belmont inner turf on June 28.
One race earlier, it was the exact same margin of victory over the very same turf course when Oleksandra got up in time after another impressive rally to best Sweet Bye and Bye in a sharp time of 1:07.80 over ‘firm’ ground.
“We can still improve this mare,” trainer Neil Drysdale said after the race. “She is versatile, too. I still think any one-turn race from six furlongs to eight or eight-and-a-half will work for her.”
Drysdale campaigned the mare’s South African dam, Alexandra Rose, to win the 2008 running of the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita for Team Valor, which has the mare in Australia.
Oleksandra launched her career Down Under two years ago under the care of Bjorn Baker, earning a pair of runner-up finishes and a third from three starts.
She made her North American debut a winning one in October 2018. Under Mike Smith, Oleksandra displayed her late-running prowess in the ‘about’ six-and-a-half furlong maiden special weight turf race, accelerating from fifth at the stretch call to win by a neck at odds of 6-1.
Currently set to take on seven rivals in the Royal North, Oleksandra will try for her fourth win from five starts in 2019.
Graded stakes winner Ruby Notion, who won last year’s Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, and was fourth to Stormy Liberal in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, will also make her Canadian debut.
The West Virginia-bred arrives at the Royal North off a fourth-place performance in an allowance race at Churchill on June 2. She has six wins and a trio of thirds from 17 starts for owner-breeder Silverton Hill.
Way to Versailles, trained by Kevin Attard, won last year’s edition of the Royal North. The daughter of Tizway paid $21.20 for the win.
The Royal North is scheduled as the ninth race on Sunday’s 11-race program. First post is 1:05 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIBet.com.
$175,000 ROYAL NORTH STAKES
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Patton’s Girl – Jesse Campbell – Ross Armata Jr.
2 – Ruby Notion – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Darrin Miller
3 – Oleksandra – Luis Contreras – Neil Drysdale
4 – Summer Sunday – Rafael Hernandez – Stuart Simon
5 – Double Medal – Justin Stein – Michael De Paulo
6 – Magic Spell – Patrick Husbands – Gail Cox
7 – Veil – Kazushi Kimura – Martin Drexler
8 – Misericordia – Alan Garcia – Jorge Duarte Jr.