Michael Burns Photo
Mrs. Barbara put in an impressive stretch run to capture the Grade 3 $156,400 Mazarine Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.
The 1 1/16-mile main track event attracted field of nine two-year-old fillies, including Spruce Stable’s Mrs. Barbara, a daughter of Bodemeister-Destroy, bred by Jim Dandy Stable.
It was Chocolateaddiction who emerged with the lead after an early tussle for pacesetting duties, taking the field through an opening quarter-mile timed in :24.11, as Rafael Hernandez kept Mrs. Barbara tucked in along the rail in fifth spot.
Chocolateaddiction continued to lead the pack, 1 ½-lengths ahead of Kanta after a half in :49.57, as Hernandez kept Mrs. Barbara in prime stalking position, sitting third while enjoying the benefits of a ground-saving inside trip.
Around the turn, Mrs. Barbara was full of run, third and gaining quickly on the leaders at the stretch call as even-money choice Moira, who won her debut, the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, in impression fashion on October 23, came calling to the inside.
The two filles then went toe-to-toe to the wire, with Mrs. Barbara fending off her rival by a half-length in a time of 1:44.64. Guileful, at 66-1, was third.
It was the second straight triumph and first stakes victory for the dark bay filly who broke her maiden last time out in a 1 1/16-mile race on November 7.
“We broke good and we saved ground in the first turn,” said Hernandez. “Then we ended up behind the speed and turning for home, she did her job. I can feel he [Justin Stein, aboard Moira] was coming on the inside. So, I just moved my horse a little bit so she could see the other horse coming and she kept going.”
Jim Lawson, Woodbine CEO and owner of Mrs. Barbara, was emotional in the aftermath of the victory.
“It’s a very special moment,” started Lawson. “We did name the horse after my mom. It’s always tricky, but this is a superb filly, so it’s very exciting. I think back to yesterday, actually, and Frank Di Giulio and Pink Lloyd, and them asking, ‘What would your dad think of this?’ And I’m sure dad [Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Mel Lawson] is looking down and is pretty pleased with what his broodmare did. This is a special filly. I love the game and I’m just fortunate to be working at it, and also being in the racing game too… it’s pretty great. Mark and his team did a great job with this filly this year. It’s so fun, it really is.”
Mrs. Barbara, now 2-1-1 from six starts, paid $11.20 for the win.
God of Love, under Rafael Hernandez, rallied impressively to take the Grade 3 $174,800 Grey Stakes, giving the veteran jockey a sweep of Woodbine’s weekend stakes races.
Churchtown, the slight 3-1 choice, grabbed the lead early, holding a one-length advantage over Stowaway, who was one-length ahead of Ironstone through an opening quarter-mile reached in :24.42, as God of Love sat ninth of 10 through the opening panel.
It was status quo on the front end after a half-mile in :49.58, as Hernandez and God of Love were still ninth, but well within reach of the frontrunners.
Churchtown was still in front at the stretch call, a half-length in charge, but Hernandez had his chestnut colt in full flight, blowing by their rivals with each stride and setting their sights on top prize.
At the wire, God of Love was 1 ½-lengths the best. Ironstone was second and On Thin Ice was third. The final time was 1:44.20.
It was the third straight stakes score for Hernandez, who teamed with Pink Lloyd to win Saturday’s Grade 2 Kennedy Road Stakes, and with Mrs. Barbara to take the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes, one race earlier on Sunday’s card.
Sent postward as the 9-2 third choice, God of Love paid $11.60.
“This race was really kind of an obsession for me because it’s kind of rematch from the last one because I got a bad trip last time,” said Hernandez. “So many horses stopped in front of me [last time] I had to take a hold a few times, and he was coming running. Today they told me, ‘Rafi, make sure you’re keeping clear. Let him do his race’. That’s what we did. He came out running. He showed up and played his game.”
It was the second stakes score for God of Love, who won the Cup and Saucer on October 10. The win also gave trainer Mark Casse the Sunday stakes double.
A son of Cupid-No Wonder, God of Love, now 2-0-0 from four starts, was bred by the late Bill Graham and is owned by Gary Barber and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms