By Woodbine Communications/ Chris Lomon
TORONTO – Five hopefuls, including sprint standouts Patches O’Houlihan and Poulin in O T, will vie for top prize in the $100,000 Lake Superior, to be contested at six furlongs over the E.P. Taylor turf. The Lake Superior is a part of the Ontario Sire Heritage Series.
Trained by Canadian Horse Racing inductee Robert Tiller for owner/breeder Frank Di Giulio, Jr., the son of Reload-Maythefourthbwithu, comes into his latest start off a sharp score in the Lake Huron Stakes, an Ontario Sire Heritage Series race contested at five furlongs on Woodbine’s inner turf course.
It was the fourth win from five starts for Patches O’Houlihan, whose first effort on grass came over the E.P. Taylor turf in last year’s seven-furlong Bull Page Stakes when he was sixth, one race after his victorious career bow on September 11.
Named after the character played by Rip Torn in the movie Dodgeball, Patches O’Houlihan will chase his fourth straight win on Sunday.
Tiller, three wins away from 2,100 for his career, has been impressed by the bay gelding.
“We look like the best horse in there now, and he’s doing good,” started Tiller. “The day [May 21, in his 3-year-old debut], when he won by nearly 11 lengths, that’s when we knew we had a good one in the barn. If you look at his Beyer figures and speed ratings, they are very good.”
He’s not ready yet, however, to put him in the same category as his former superstar sprint legend Pink Lloyd.
The popular son of Old Forester, owned by Entourage Stable, including principal owner Frank Di Giulio Jr., won 29 races, including 26 stakes, from 38 career starts, along with eight Sovereign Awards. He was voted Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2017.
“Patches, he’s like me, off and on. Happy, sad, crazy, and quiet… a little bit of everything. But he’s a very talented horse. I wouldn’t put him in the Pink Lloyd league just yet. He needs another 25 stakes races to catch him. But we’re happy to have this guy. He’s a talented horse.”
His rivals include Poulin in O T, another Owens trainee. The horse named for Canadian hockey superstar Marie-Philip Poulin had a banner rookie campaign, one that yielded four wins and a second from six starts and a Sovereign Award finalist nod in the top 2-year-old male category.
“He had the winter off with a little arthroscopic surgery on his ankle,” Owens said of the three-time stakes winner. “He was training really well in the spring and doing everything right.
The chestnut began his career with back-to-back victories over the Tapeta surface, showcasing his talents in his 4 ½-furlong opener at the $40,000 optional claiming level and doubling up in the open Victoria Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs.
Overall, Poulin in O T, who arrives at the Lake Superior off a pair of thirds, in the Queenston Stakes on June 11 and the Lake Huron on July 8, is 4-1-2 from eight starts along with $227,359 (U.S.) in purse earnings.
“He hooked [King’s Plate contender] Kaukokaipuu and [Plate Trial winner] Paramount Prince in the Queenston and finished a head back of Paramount Prince,” noted Owens.
The veteran conditioner was pleased with the Lake Huron performance.
“For months, I watched [trainer] Mike Mattine’s horse, Silent Reserve, who finished second in the Lake Huron. To me, he is a top-class, five-furlong inner turf specialist. And he proved it on July 21 when he came back and won the allowance optional claiming race at five furlongs on the inner turf. He won it very convincingly.”
“Poulin in O T is a big horse, and the Lake Huron didn’t set up very well for him. He was stuck with the one-hole and Mike’s horse got to the front. As soon as we got back to the position we were looking for, Patches O’Houlihan got that position, so we had to come from further back. The tight turns didn’t help him because he’s such a big horse. He had to wait for the straighten out in the stretch and come with his run. He also gave six pounds to both horses. Now, we only have to give two pounds to Patches O’Houlihan and we’re running on a wider turn on the E.P. Taylor, which he has won on going seven furlongs. Don’t take anything away from Patches O’Houlihan. He is a really nice, hard-grinding horse. But I think it will be a little fairer this time.”
First post time is 1:05 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action through HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.
FIELD FOR THE LAKE SUPERIOR
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Poulin in O T – Eswan Flores – Steve Owens
2 – One Bay Hemingway (S) – Luis Contreras – Sid Attard
3 – Sooner Lunar – David Moran – Michael Doyle
4 – Absolute Chairman (S) – Declan Carroll – Barrington Siddo
5 – Patches O’Houlihan – Daisuke Fukumoto – Robert Tiller