TORONTO, August 12, 2020 – Josie Carroll trainee Curlin’s Voyage headlines the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser, Saturday at Woodbine.
Inaugurated in 1956, the filly classic, which has attracted 10 Canadian-foaled three-year-old fillies carrying 121 pounds over one mile and one-eighth on the Tapeta, will go postward as race 10 at 5:57 p.m. The winner receives $300,000.
Bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Inc., who also co-owns with Windsor Boys Racing, Curlin’s Voyage brings a 4-2-1 mark from eight starts into the Oaks.
The Ontario-bred daughter of Curlin has three stakes scores to her name, including the 2019 Mazarine (Grade 3) and her most recent victory, the Fury Stakes, on July 5 at Woodbine.
“I think we’ve always thought that this was a very special filly from her two-year-old debut where she showed a great deal of promise,” said Carroll, of the filly who capped off her two-year-old campaign with a win in the Ontario Lassie Stakes last December. “This year with the abbreviated season, it’s been a little difficult training into the Oaks. We haven’t had the opportunity to run her around two turns yet, but it’s certainly what she is bred to do and wants to do, so I’m pretty confident that we’re going in in good shape. She’s run two good, strong races this year and we’ve had some very serious works going into this weekend.”
Carroll, inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame this year, has been impressed with her charge from the get-go.
“She’s pretty uncomplicated. She’s a very affectionate filly in the barn. She just loves attention and always has her head out looking for attention. And then when she gets on the racetrack, she’s all business and she just drags her riders around there.”
Considered a top contender for the Queen’s Plate (September 12, at Woodbine), Curlin’s Voyage, listed as the 6-1 third choice in the 2020 Queen’s Plate Winterbook, will be ridden by Patrick Husbands. The multiple Sovereign Award-winning jockey has won three Oaks – all with Mark Casse trainees – including a triumph with Lexie Lou, who turned the Oaks-Plate double in 2014.
Carroll won the Oaks and the Plate with Inglorious in 2011.
Infinite Patience, co-owned by NHL star Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, finished third in the Fury Stakes, the filly’s first test outside of her home base in Vancouver.
Bred and co-owned by William DeCoursey, the daughter of Sungold was a perfect five-for-five at Hastings Park. Four of those victories came in stakes events.
Woodbine-based trainer Lorne Richards has taken over the training reins from Hastings conditioner Barb Heads while Infinite Patience competes in Toronto.
“She does everything well,” said Richards. “It [Fury] was asking a lot. She had only been here four days and came into 40-degree temperatures. They [her connections] waited to see what was going to happen at Hastings, and when the stakes book came out, there was nothing really there for her. The heat, the change in feed – it’s kind of tough on them. She didn’t run badly by any means, but she was raring to go. She didn’t want to have any part of rating. But she galloped out strongly in that race. She didn’t hit the wire and drop the bit.”
Richards, who has 401 career training wins, believes Infinite Patience will be even better come Saturday.
“She’s pretty gutsy and she’s the type that’s going to show up no matter what. She’s just that kind of horse. She looked great when she got here. I think she’s got to be better than she was last time out just based on her having the chance to be here longer now. We’re hopeful.”
Emma-Jayne Wilson will partner with the filly in search of her first Oaks victory.
Mizzen Beau, a two-time winner from seven starts, represented the first starter in Canada for trainer Norm Casse when she went postward in the Fury Stakes.
The son of dual Hall of Fame inductee Mark Casse watched the daughter of Mizzen Mast break her maiden in her third start, a 2 ¾-length score over seven furlongs on the Keeneland main track on October 11, 2019.
Owned by Daniel Investment Holdings Inc., Mizzen Beau launched her three-year-old campaign with a winning effort Tampa Bay Downs on March 7.
Steve Bahen picks up the mount and will be looking for back-to-back scores in the Oaks after winning last year with Desert Ride. He won his first classic race in 1996, guiding eventual Sovereign Award-winning filly Silent Fleet to victory in the Oaks. He also won in 2013 with Nipissing.
Pilot Episode is a full-sister to 2018 Sovereign Award winner Bold Script, and her dam, Original Script, was third in the 2013 Oaks and won the Bison City, second leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara series.
The Chiefswood Stables homebred, who will be making her Canadian debut after four (three at Gulfstream, one at Belmont) U.S. starts, had her best result, a runner-up effort, in Florida on March 15. The Oaks is the daughter of Speightstown’s first stakes engagement.
Luis Contreras, who went on to win the Queen’s Plate with both of his past Oaks winners (Holy Helena and Inglorious), gets the call on Saturday for trainer Claude McGaughey III.
Afleet Katherine, unbeaten in two starts, Bayou Belle (supplemented), who broke her maiden on July 23 at Woodbine, Lasting Union, bred by the late Bill Graham, Ontario Lassie Stakes and Princess Elizabeth Stakes runner-up Merveilleux, multiple stakes placed November Fog, and Fury Stakes runner-up Justleaveitalone (supplemented) round out the field.
Trainer Kevin Attard sends out the uncoupled trio of Afleet Katherine, Merveilleux and Bayou Belle.
Al and Bill Ulwelling own Merveilleux and Bayou Belle.
“I thought Merveilleux ran a little disappointing last time [finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Selene],” offered Attard. “I’m making a change in equipment with her, we’re adding blinkers. If she runs to the way she’s worked – her works have been excellent – we’re going to be in a good situation. In the Selene, there looked like there was a lot of speed in the race and it transpired a lot differently. We’re going to ensure that doesn’t happen this time around. Bayou Belle is in there [Oaks] to make sure the tempo is hot, and there’s no secret what her job is to do. She’ll go as far as she can for as long as she can. If they don’t challenge her, we’ve all seen rabbits steal races and win them. She’s coming into the race in great shape off a big win.
“Afleet Katherine is two-for-two, and has stepped up each time,” said Attard, of Terra Racing Stable’s filly, a homebred half-sister to graded stakes winner Amalfi Coast. “She hasn’t been a stellar work horse in the morning, but she knows when the gates open it means business. She’s stretching out to two turns for the first time, she’s not as seasoned as other fillies in the race, and she’s trying Tapeta for the first time. So, a lot of new challenges, but what can you say? She’s two-for-two.”
The Woodbine Oaks is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, which continues at the Toronto oval with the 1 1/16-mile Bison City Stakes on September 12 and concludes with the Wonder Where Stakes over 1-1/4 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course on October 25.
First race post time for Saturday’s stakes-packed program is 1 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action via HPIbet.com.
$500,000 WOODBINE OAKS PRESENTED BY BUDWEISER
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Curlin’s Voyage – Patrick Husbands – Josie Carroll
2 – Pilot Episode – Luis Contreras – Shug McGaughey III
3 – Bayou Belle (S) – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
4 – November Fog – Simon Husbands – Sarah Ritchie
5 – Afleet Katherine – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard
6 – Mizzen Beau – Steve Bahen – Norm Casse
7 – Merveilleux – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
8 – Lasting Union – Kazushi Kimura – Michael Matz
9 – Justleaveitalone (S) – Davy Moran – John Mattine
10 – Infinite Patience – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Lorne Richards