TORONTO, May 2, 2018 – Pin Oak Stable homebred Verboten will make his Tapeta debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Woodstock Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for sophomores, at Woodbine Racetrack.
Trained by Malcolm Pierce, the Elusive Quality chestnut debuted in spectacular fashion on August 25 when 1 3/4-lengths the better of well-regarded Silent Poet in a six-furlong turf sprint. Verboten returned to action on October 29 with a strong 1/2-length score in a grassy one-turn mile over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
“He trained like a good horse last year,” Pierce said. “He’s run very well on the turf both starts last year at Woodbine and I thought he won easily both starts. But, this is a whole new deal to figure out if he can handle the Tapeta on Saturday.”
Verboten wintered with Pierce at Tampa Bay Downs where he made his seasonal debut in the Columbia Stakes over a mile of Tampa turf that was captured by the graded stakes placed Gidu. Second in the Columbia went to Captivating Moon who came back to finish second in the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland, while the third-place finisher, Smart Remark, added depth to the key race with a next out score in a Keeneland allowance.
“I was a little disappointed in his race at Tampa,” Pierce said. “It was a fast run race. He broke well and the jock didn’t want to get hooked up in a speed duel and took him back a little bit and then he got him back too far and he couldn’t make up the ground down the lane.”
The race-fit Verboten will be eyeing the turf Charlie Barley Stakes on Queen’s Plate day, but will make his first 2018 appearance at Woodbine on the Tapeta main track.
“We’ve got a short field on Saturday. He’s training well and doing well and hopefully he’s good enough on the Tapeta,” Pierce said. “It’s an experiment to see how he does, but it could open up some options.”
To win the Woodstock, Verboten will have to topple a talented field of five that includes multiple stakes winner Be Vewy Vewy Quiet, locally-based Marcus and shippers Curlin’s Honor and Supreme Aura.
Saturday’s 10-race card kicks off at 1 p.m. with the featured Woodstock Stakes slated as Race 8 (4:49 p.m.).
A busy day of simulcast racing action on Saturday includes a 14-race card from Churchill Down highlighted by the 144th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby which will go as Race 12 at 6:50 p.m.
Canadian-content in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby includes the multiple graded stakes winning Ontario-bred Flameaway who will leave from Post 4 under rider Jose Lezcano. Flameaway, a winner on debut at Woodbine last May, is trained by Mark Casse who has won 10 Sovereign Awards as Canada’s Outstanding Trainer.
Second leading rider Luis Contreras will ride Bravazo in the 1 1/4-mile U.S. classic for legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
The 4-1 Kentucky Derby favourite, Justify, was bred in Kentucky at a farm owned by Vancouver, B.C. native John D. Gunther. Gunther is also the breeder of 12-1 Derby shot Vino Rosso.
FIELD FOR THE $100,000 WOODSTOCK STAKES
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Curlin’s Honor / Gary Boulanger / Mark Casse
2 / Marcus / Skye Chernetz / David Cotey
3 / Be Vewy Vewy Quiet / Rafael Hernandez / Robert Tiller
4 / Supreme Aura / Chantal Sutherland / Michael Stidham
5 / Verboten / Patrick Husbands / Malcolm Pierce