TORONTO, November 1, 2020 – Al and Bill Ulwelling’s two-year-old colt Stephen tracked down the front-running freshmen for a breakthrough victory in the 117th edition of the $250,000 Coronation Futurity on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
Justin Stein earned star of the card honours as he notched his fifth win of the day aboard the Kevin Attard trainee, who defeated Tio Magico by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:52.46 to break his maiden in the featured 1-1/8-mile stakes race for Canadian-foaled two-year-olds.
Tio Magico lead the field of eight rookies through fractions of :24.87, :49.20 and 1:13.15, with the favoured Cup and Saucer Stakes winner Master Spy pressing the pace.
Meanwhile, Stephen, who followed second-to-last early on after an awkward start, was hustled into fifth-place on the final turn and tipped off the rail to run down Tio Magico in the stretch.
“He broke a little bit funny,” noted Stein, chalking the start up to the blustery weather conditions or the colt’s inexperience, “but we recovered quick and I was happy with the trip we were getting and he just ran a good race.
“I had to make sure that he knew what was going on. I had to make him run a little more. He put his mind to the task when he got some daylight and took aim at the horse in front of him, he ran by him professionally.”
Giant Waters finished 2-1/2 lengths behind Tio Magico in third, with Master Spy, British Royalty, One Flint, Threefiftyseven and Flex completing the order of finish.
Stephen returned $6.30 to win as the 2-1 second choice in this third career start.
Attard said his trainee had always shown signs of talent and took a shot in the $250,000 restricted Simcoe Stakes for his August 30 debut over 6-1/2 furlongs on the main track. Although running eighth there, he gained valuable racing experience.
The bay colt entered the Coronation Futurity off a strong second-place effort, finishing just a half-length behind the Sam-Son Farm homebred Tio Magico in a 1-1/16-mile maiden special weight on October 4.
“Obviously, in the second race, I thought he ran great,” said Attard. “He showed a tremendous turn of foot, was coming to the winner and just ran out of real estate. He’s trained well in the interim and he was coming into this race in great shape, so we were pretty high on our chances.”
Bred in Ontario by Trackwest Racing Inc., the colt by Constitution (named for former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper) was a $170,000 purchase from the Ocala Breeders’ two-year-olds in training spring sale.
With a gifted youngster taking what is considered a significant two-year-old race on the road to next year’s Queen’s Plate, Attard dismissed the myths of the “Coronation Futurity curse” with a laugh. (The last horse to complete the Coronation Futurity-Queen’s Plate double was Norcliffe, who won this race in 1975).
“Streaks are made to be broken,” said Attard, hoping stars will align in the 162nd running of the Plate. “I was born in 1975 so the plan is to break this curse next year.”
Speaking of young talent, the Ulwellings’ homebred two-year-old Haddassah debuted a winner in the race prior for the same connections.
Live Thoroughbred racing resumes at Woodbine Racetrack on Thursday with an eight-race program set to kick off at 2:15 p.m. Please note that the upcoming Friday and Saturday cards will have special post times of 4:45 p.m. and 12:25 p.m., respectively.