By Woodbine Communications/ Chris Lomon
TORONTO – Aim for the Sky aims for the top prize in Saturday’s $150,000 Vice Regent Stakes, a five-furlong inner turf race for Ontario-bred 3-year-olds and up, at Woodbine.
Trained by Steven Chircop, who co-owns with Eric Ross, Aim for the Sky, a 6-year-old son of Sky Mesa-Pohdi Pohdi, will test the stakes ranks for the first time in a prosperous career that has produced a 3-12-5 mark from 28 starts, along with $290,993 (U.S.) in earnings.
Chircop, well on track to eclipse his career-best 2022 campaign, claimed the gelding last October.
“We didn’t claim him for a lot,” said the lifetime winner of 210 races. “We got him for $25,000. He was running good races. I had to run against him with my horse Uncle Joe one time, but the races didn’t go. I remember being scared of this guy. He didn’t like to win, but he was always there. He can go five-eighths, he can go seven-eighths, he can sit off it, or be on the lead. I started watching him and when I saw the opportunity to claim him, I said, ‘Here we go.’
“The first race we had him, Slade Jones was riding, and he lost his irons coming out of the gate. He was nine-wide, and Slade was bouncing around on his back for a bit, but they recovered, and he ended up finishing second, less than a length behind the winner. I’m guessing if that hadn’t happened, he would have won the race.”
Aim for the Sky debuted with a pair of runner-up efforts in 2020 and went on to break his maiden in his fifth start in November of that year, taking a 6 ½-furlong main track maiden special weight race by 2 ¼ lengths.
Consistency has been the hallmark for the gelding, who has finished in the top three in his past five races, a streak that includes a pair of wins.
“He had the winter off and we brought him back to get him ready,” said Chircop. “He’s run against some very nice horses.”
At the top of that list would be sprint star Patches O’Houlihan, a 3-year-old son of Reload, who has won four straight races, including consecutive stakes scores.
On July 30, the Robert Tiller trainee won the Lake Superior Stakes, at six furlongs on the Tapeta, by 8 ½ lengths.
“The first time I ran Aim for the Sky for a tag, he had to run against Patches O’Houlihan,” said Chircop, of the 5 ½-furlong Tapeta race on June 4. “That’s the best 3-year-old sprinter on the grounds and maybe the best sprinter on the grounds. We made the horse run that day. We finished second to him, beaten a length and a half, but Aim for the Sky didn’t give up. He kept fighting the whole way. We definitely weren’t embarrassed.”
The chestnut heads into the five-furlong race over the Toronto oval’s inner turf course in winning form.
On July 6, Aim for the Sky earned a head victory at the same distance and over the same ground, holding on gamely in the final strides.
“I really liked him last time out,” said Chircop. “He was getting no respect from the handicappers and went off at 5-1. I kind of questioned myself a little bit. I thought, ‘Am I losing it here?’ But I’m glad he proved them wrong and proved me right.”
Bred by 3 Sons Racing Ltd., Aim for the Sky has been a welcome addition to the Chircop barn.
“He’s a very consistent horse. He didn’t like to win, but ever since he got the win in May this year, you can see the confidence he’s gained. Every race he’s had this year has been very good, so hopefully, he can run another good one on Saturday. He’s the kindest and coolest horse to be around. In his stall and at the barn, he’s a pet. But the second a rider jumps on his back, he’s a different animal. He’s all racehorse and he loves his job.”
Other starters include multiple stakes winners Rockcrest and Silent Runner.
The Vice Regent goes as race nine on the 11-race card. First post is at 1:05 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action through HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.
$150,000 VICE REGENT STAKES
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Forester’s Fortune – Daisuke Fukumoto – Rodney Barrow
2 – Aim for the Sky – Rico Walcott – Steven Chircop
3 – Outlaw Kid – Kazushi Kimura – George Weaver
4 – Silent Reserve (S) – Eswan Flores – Mike Mattine
5 – Rockcrest – Keveh Nicholls – Nigel Burke
6 – Mason’s Gamble – Sahin Civaci – Josie Carroll
7 – Warp Ride – Luis Contreras – Andrew Smith
8 – Ol’ Blondie (S) – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Paul Buttigieg
9 – Silent Runner – David Moran – Michael Doyle