TORONTO, September 30, 2021 — Safe Conduct, who won the 162nd edition of the Queen’s Plate in August, takes on a competitive group of 11 rivals this Sunday at Woodbine in the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, third jewel in the OLG Canadian Triple Crown.
Trained by Philip Serpe, Safe Conduct headlines the final jewel of the tri-surface series for Canadian-bred three-year-olds, which concludes on Woodbine’s world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course with the longest leg at the distance of 1 ½-miles. Sunday’s card also features the Grade 3 $150,000 Ontario Fashion Stakes, a six-furlong Tapeta test for fillies & mares, three-year-olds and up.
A son of Bodemeister, bred by Mitchell Kursner and owned by WellSpring Stables, Safe Conduct didn’t contest the $400,000 Prince of Wales at 1 3/16 miles over Fort Erie’s dirt course on September 14, a race won by Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Haddassah.
“We would love, love, love to win the Canadian Triple Crown, but we weighed it out and we thought that we would rather have a fresh horse to run a mile-and-a-half, than to take a chance running him on the dirt and then he goes backwards and we’re not even coming,” said Serpe.
Although he hasn’t raced over the E.P. Taylor, Safe Conduct is no stranger to turf, having posted a record of 2-1-0 mark from four starts on the grass, including a 16-1 maiden-breaking victory last August at Saratoga.
The bay colt sports a record of 3-1-0 from seven career starts heading into the Breeders’.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Plate, Safe Conduct will have Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons on Sunday.
“We feel confident with her because the whole scenario changes,” offered Serpe. “What we want now is just a nice, calm ride. She knows the turf course up there, it’s her ballpark, so we’re very happy to have her… I feel like he’ll get the distance if he gets the right ride.”
Wilson, in the midst of a strong 2021 Woodbine campaign, won the Plate with Mike Fox in 2007 and is looking for her first Breeders’ Stakes victory.
Safe Conduct will face several familiar foes on Sunday, including the Kevin Attard-trained trio of Haddassh, Harlan Estate and H C Holiday, all of whom have contested the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, as well as Sid Attard trainee Riptide Rock, the Plate runner-up.
A son of Air Force Blue, bred and owned by Al & Bill Ulwelling, Hadassah, who was eighth in the Queen’s Plate, took all the spoils in the Prince of Wales, winning by a half-length with Gary Boulanger in the irons. The bay gelding is 2-0-2 from five lifetime starts.
“He put it all together in the Prince of Wales,” said Attard. “He has trained well in the interim and breezed very good last week. Can we rate his speed going this far will be the 400k question.”
Harlan Estate, owned by ERJ Racing LLC, Exline Border Racing LLC, Madaket Racing Stables LLC, and Clay Scherer, arrives at the Breeders’ off a second-place finish in the Prince of Wales. Fashioning a record of 2-3-0 from 10 starts, the son of Kantharos, seventh in the Plate, contested the first six races of his career on the turf, including a maiden-breaking victory last October at Santa Anita.
“He did all his running in California on turf, he should appreciate getting back to that surface,” said Attard. “He ran really well in the Prince of Wales and should have another good effort in him.”
Third, placed second in the Plate Trial, H C Holiday finished third in the Queen’s Plate and fourth in the Prince of Wales. Bred and owned by Ivan Dalos, the son of Ami’s Holiday will be making his turf debut on Sunday.
“His father won the race (in 2014),” noted Attard. “We’ve felt like this might be the race that suits him best.”
Riptide Rock, a chestnut son of Point of Entry, put in a furious rally in the Plate, finishing second, just a head back of Safe Conduct. The Stronach Stables’ homebred arrives at the Breeders’ off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Toronto Cup Stakes, a one-mile turf event, on September 12. The gelding is 2-2-1 from eight career starts.
Artie’s Storm, trained and owned by Paul Buttigieg, has been supplemented to the race. The son of We Miss Artie is 2-2-2 from six career starts and finished second in both the Queenston Stakes and Toronto Cup. He was third in the Greenwood Stakes. His past two races, the Greenwood and Toronto Cup, were both on the grass.
Breaking Alone, a chestnut son of Lea, owned by Malta Manors Stables, has yet to tackle stakes company to date. Trained by Willie Armata, the chestnut gelding, bred by the late Bill Graham, is 2-1-0 from four starts.
Trained by Barbara Minshall, who co-owns with Bruce Lunsford, British Royalty has contested his last three races on the turf, with the son of English Channel’s best finish coming on July 11 at Woodbine when he was second over good ground on the E.P. Taylor.
After a ninth-place finish to launch his career, Collective Force, a Chiefswood Stables homebred, has a pair of seconds and a win. Trained by Rachel Halden, the son of Tiznow broke his maiden last time out, winning a 1 ¼-mile Tapeta race originally scheduled for the turf.
Executive Giant, trained by Nigel Burke for Paul Mouttet, has yet to win in six career appearances, but the son of Giant Gizmo does sport a pair of seconds, including a runner-up effort in July over a mile on the E.P. Taylor.
Bred and owned by Garland Williamson (Hillsbrook Farm), Go Take Charge is also looking for his first win. Trained by Breeda Hayes, the son of Will Take Charge was twelfth in the Queen’s Plate. One race prior, the chestnut was second in a 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race that was originally slated for the grass.
Keep Grinding, owned by teenager Joshua Attard and trained by his grandfather, Tino Attard, has never crossed the wire lower than fifth in his seven career races. Runner-up in the Marine Stakes this July, the dark bay son of Tizway was fifth in the Plate and third in the Prince of Wales.
The last Triple Crown winner was the brilliant Wando, just the seventh horse to complete the series sweep when he won the 2003 Breeders’ Stakes with jockey Patrick Husbands aboard for trainer Michael Keogh and the late owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz.
Since then, A Bit O’Gold (2004), Pender Harbour (2011) and Tone Broke (2019) also claimed two-thirds of the Triple Crown by taking the last two legs. Last year, Belichick won the Breeders’, denying stablemate Mighty Heart a Triple Crown sweep.
The longest shot to win the Breeders’ was Miami Deco in 2010. The Ontario-bred son of Limehouse returned $132.10 for a $2 win bet. Catherine Day Phillips became the first female trainer to win the race courtesy of A Bit O’Gold in 2004. One year later, she was in the winner’s circle again, this time with Jambalaya. Roger Attfield holds the record for most wins by a trainer with nine. His first came with Carotene in 1986. Jockey Rafael Hernandez has won three of the past five runnings.
Post time is set for 1:10 p.m. ET, with the 130th edition of the Breeders’ Stakes scheduled as the ninth race (approximately 5:38 p.m. ET). The race will be broadcast live from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET on TSN2. Coverage is led by TSN’s Laura Diakun and Woodbine Entertainment’s Jason Portuondo, with Brodie Lawson and Chad Rozema contributing reports from track level.
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FIELD FOR THE BREEDERS’ STAKES (RACE 9)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – British Royalty – Patrick Husbands – Barbara Minshall
2 – Riptide Rock – Justin Stein – Sid Attard
3 – Keep Grinding – Rafael Hernandez – Tino Attard
4 – Safe Conduct – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Philip Serpe
5 – H C Holiday – Luis Contreras – Kevin Attard
6 – Artie’s Storm – David Moran – Paul Buttigieg
7 – Breaking Alone – Shaun Bridgmohan – Willie Armata
8 – Haddassah – Gary Boulanger – Kevin Attard
9 – Collective Force – Steven Bahen – Rachel Halden
10 – Go Take Charge – Sahin Civaci – Breeda Hayes
11 – Executive Giant – Eswan Flores – Nigel Burke
12 – Harlan Estate – Kazushi Kimura – Kevin Attard
FIELD FOR THE GRADE 3 ONTARIO FASHION (RACE 10)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Amalfi Coast – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard
2 – Summer Sunday – Rafael Hernandez – Stuart Simon
3 – Golden Vision – Omar Moreno – Tino Attard
4 – Ima Beast (S) – Shaun Bridgmohan – Harold Ladouceur
5 – Jeanie’s Beepbeep – Kazushi Kimura – Norm McKnight
6 – Betwixting – Patrick Husbands – Martin Drexler
7 – Boardroom – Luis Contreras – Josie Carroll