TORONTO, September 24, 2022 – Ancient Spirit, under Rafael Hernandez, seized control at the top of the lane en route to victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Victorian Queen Stakes, for 2-year-old Ontario-sired fillies, at Woodbine.
Trained by Sid Attard for owner-breeder Howie Walton (Norseman Racing Stable), the daughter of Signature Red-Gemini arrived at the ‘about’ 7-furlong turf race off an impressive debut score on August 20.
And although she unseated her rider at the gate, it would be a smooth-sailing journey the rest of the way.
It was 15-1 Cara Cara who roared to the front, as Hernandez settled Ancient Spirit into second position, three lengths back, through an opening quarter in :22.95.
Cara Cara was 3 ½ lengths on top after a half reached in :45.96, but Ancient Spirit looked ready to pounce as the field headed into the turn for home.
Straightening for the long drive to the wire, Hernandez gave the dark bay filly her cue and she responded with an outside burst to take the lead, going on to post an easy 2 ½-length triumph in a time of 1:21.80 over firm going.
“The second start, they know what they’re going to do now,” said Hernandez. “It was an unbelievable kick. She did it very, very nice and she’s just going to get better and better.”
Attard, who had 2,120 career wins coming into the day, thought highly of the filly from the outset.
“We liked this filly since day one that we saw her,” said the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee, who trained both Ancient Spirit’s sire and dam. “Her mother, she was very big. She broke her maiden (July 29, 2018), and the owner didn’t want her. I said, Howie, ‘Get this mare.’ This one, she’s like a bull. She’s so strong.”
Signature Red, a multiple graded stakes winner, also owned by Walton, went 6-6-7 from 27 career starts, along with $630,232 (U.S.) in lifetime earnings.
Ancient Spirit paid $8.20, $4.50 and $3.10, combined with Tito’s Calling ($5.10, $3.30) for a $45.20 exactor. Friends for Life ($3.30) completed a $175 triactor. A $1 superfecta (Cara Cara) came back $494.10.
By Chris Lomon for Woodbine Communications