TORONTO, November 18, 2022 – The Ontario Sire Heritage Series concluded Friday at Woodbine with Strega winning the $100,000 Ashbridges Bay Stakes and Full Screen taking the $100,000 Lake Ontario Stakes.
The 1 1/16-mile main track events, the Lake Ontario for Ontario Sired 3-year-old colts and geldings, and the Ashbridges Bay, for Ontario Sired 3-year-old fillies, completed the bonus-laden (a total of $70,000 was distributed to the connections of the top three horses in each division based on a points system, with $20,000 to first, $10,000 to second, and $5,000 to third) eight-leg stakes series that were held at Woodbine and Fort Erie racetracks.
Ontario Racing and its Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) Committee unveiled the series in 2021.
Sent off as the 9-5 second choice, Strega, with leading rider Kazushi Kimura in the irons, broke sharply and was quickly joined on the front end by 22-1 Totally in Charge. The duo matched strides into the first turn, with Strega holding a head advantage through a quarter in :24.58.
Strega was still in command after a half reached in :48.67, while Well Actually moved into second, a half-length in front of Totally in Charge.
It was déjà vu around the turn for home as Strega and Totally in Charge were once again slugging it out on the front end, a battle that would last nearly the entire stretch drive, with Strega eventually gaining the upper hand late to record a hard-fought three-quarter length triumph over her game rival. My Girl Sky finished third and Talk to Ya Later was fourth.
The final time was 1:45.46.
Trained by Kevin Attard for Lanni Bloodstock LLC, Strega, a bay daughter of Silent Name (JPN), notched her first stakes victory and third win overall from 12 starts.
“In the summertime, we kind of threw her against the top 3-year-old fillies, locally,” noted Attard. “Her being an Ontario-sired horse, obviously, she had to step up. She ran really good in the Bison City [second, by a neck to Sister Seagull] and almost hung on to win that. She’s back in Ontario-sired company where she kind of enjoys that, I think, a little bit more.”
Attard was impressed by his filly’s determined showing throughout the Ashbridges Bay.
“Obviously, the track playing speed helps with a horse like her. The game plan was to kind of go out there and dictate things, and depending on what happened, it was up to Kazushi from there.”
Bred by WinStar Farm, LLC, Strega paid $5.70 for the win.
Pleasure’s Gold, bred and owned by Elizabeth and Gordon Lickrish earned the $20,000 bonus in her division courtesy of a win in the Rondeau Bay, a second in the Georgian Bay, a sixth in the Thunder Bay and fifth in the Ashbridges Bay.
In the Lake Ontario, Full Screen notched his second stakes victory with a rail-skimming stretch run.
There was plenty of action heading into the first turn with Giant One eventually seizing the lead as Hunt Master settled into second spot and Full Screen positioned in third by Jeffrey Alderson.
Giant One, to the inside, held a one-length advantage over Hunt Master, while Full Screen watched the proceedings from in third through an opening panel reached in :24.84.
It was status quo amongst the top three after a half in :48.77, but the pace began to noticeably quicken as the field navigated the turn for home.
Hunt Master, 4-5 choice Lac Macaza and Bossy Holiday came calling as the field straightened for home while Alderson looked for room to launch his bid with Full Screen.
Midway down the lane, Full Screen finally found daylight, but had little time to get by his two rivals to the outside. The trio hit the wire together, with Full Screen eking out a gutsy neck win. Hunt Master bested Bossy Holiday by a head for the runner-up award.
The final time was 1:44.95.
Alderson was relieved to get the victory after the eventful beginning and photo finish.
“There was a lot going on in the first turn, a lot of scrambling, trying to get him under control. I had Omar [jockey, Moreno, aboard Dissectologist] to the inside of me and I could hear him kind of screaming, but the other two were coming down on me too, so I just had to hold my position.”
In the stretch, Alderson wasn’t certain he would be able to find room to take aim at the leaders. At the finish line, he wasn’t sure if he was in front.
“Down the backside, he was going perfectly. I had no issues there. Coming to the quarter-pole, I was searching for somewhere to go. There was nowhere to go. Luckily, the inside opened up and away he went. I didn’t know if I got there or not, but what a tremendous horse he is.”
Trained by Julie Belhumeur for owner Nidel Charfi, Full Screen, who won the Elgin Stakes on August 28 at Woodbine, is now 3-1-2 from 10 starts.
Bred by Spring Farm, the dark bay son of Big Screen debuted last November at the Toronto oval, finishing eighth. The gelding arrived at the Lake Ontario off a fourth in the Lake Superior Stakes on October 21.
Full Screen paid $11.60 for the victory.
Bossy Holiday earned his connections the bonus first-place prize of $20,000 in his division. Bred and owned by Ivan Dalos, the colt won the Lake Erie Stakes, was second in the Lake Huron, sixth in the Lake Superior and a third in the Lake Ontario.