TORONTO, May 31 – Tower of Texas will make his seasonal debut in Saturday’s $175,000 Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes, a seven furlong turf tilt for older horses, at Woodbine.
The talented six-year-old bay has hit the board in 15 of 20 career starts while banking purse earnings of $610,527 for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield and owners Thomas Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth. The Street Sense gelding was winless in 2016 with a record of three seconds and a third in five starts, but nearly pulled off the upset of a lifetime when a closing second in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
"He gave Tepin quite a run for her money that day, didn’t he," said Attfield. "He’s a real worrier this guy. He comes up with a few little problems, it goes away, and then he comes back again. He’s training really well and I’m hoping he’s going to do the same thing again."
Blessed with an impressive turn of foot, the late rushing Tower of Texas missed by a half-length to Tepin, who was winning her eighth graded race in succession in the Woodbine Mile. In a season of narrow misses, Tower of Texas was also a closing second to Connaught Cup rival Glenville Gardens in the seven furlong Grade 2 Play the King Stakes, when defeated less than a length. In the King Edward, the Ontario-bred bay closed from last to third when 1 1/4-lengths behind the returning Connaught Cup champion, Dimension.
Leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, who has won with four of his 10 turf starters this meet, has the call on Tower of Texas. The duo combined to win the 2015 edition of the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes.
"Eurico has ridden this horse quite a bit and done well on him," noted Attfield.
Tower of Texas was turned out at the farm over the winter and joined up with the Attfield contingent in Kentucky late in the Keeneland meet. He has trained forwardly since arriving home to Woodbine including a May 28 breeze in 1:00 flat.
Da Silva will be charged with working out a winning trip for the popular gelding.
"He has that style that he likes to come from off it, so he likes to have a good pace in front of him. That helps him a lot," said Attfield.
Ultimately, Attfield is hopeful he can get Tower of Texas back to the Woodbine Mile but is taking things one step at a time.
"Seven furlongs is about as short as he wants to go, up to a mile and a sixteenth, but a mile is a good race for him," said Attfield. "The plan is to run him here and then the King Edward (on July 2) and we’ll see from there."
A field of nine for the Connaught Cup also includes graded stakes winners Calgary Cat and Take the Stand.
Calgary Cat, a multiple graded stakes winner and Canada’s champion sprinter of 2014, parlayed a win in the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes last season into a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Sent to post at 41-1 in the Turf Sprint, Calgary Cat rallied from last of 14 at the top of the lane to finish a charging fourth. Trained by Kevin Attard for owners Stephen Chesney and Cory Hoffman, Calgary Cat landed sixth in his seasonal debut in the Elusive Quality Stakes at Belmont Park. Luis Contreras has the call.
Take the Stand, trained by Bill Mott for Earle I. Mack LLC, Wachtel Stable and Brous Stable LLC, arrives at Woodbine from a second in the Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Argentinian-bred son of Not For Sale made the grade in the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Handicap last season at Fair Grounds. Jesse Campbell will ride.
Commute, Great Wide Open, Hollywood Hideaway and Seffeara complete the field.
The Connaught Cup is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race card. First post time is 1PM. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com.
FIELD FOR THE $175,000 CONNAUGHT CUP
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Tower of Texas / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Roger Attfield
2 / Dimension / David Moran / Conor Murphy
3 / Seffeara / Alan Garcia / Steve Owens
4 / Calgary Cat / Luis Contreras / Kevin Attard
5 / Take the Stand / Jesse Campbell / Bill Mott
6 / Commute / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
7 / Glenville Gardens / Gary Boulanger / Sid Attard
8 / Hollywood Hideaway / Rafael Hernandez / Barb Minshall
9 / Great Wide Open / Julie Burke / Conor Murphy