By Chris Lomon/Woodbine Communications

TORONTO, December 10, 2023 – Secret Reserve took Sunday’s $100,000 Steady Growth Stakes, for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up, contested at 1 1/16 miles over the Woodbine Tapeta. 

It was an early scramble for the lead with Dun Drum emerging on top and Secret Reserve, with Leo Salles aboard, riding the rail to sit second, followed by Perfect Crime and Avoman. Dun Drum was a half-length ahead of Secret Reserve through a quarter in :24.01 and extended that lead to a length over Perfect Crime, while Secret Reserve was a further head back, after a half in :47.74. 

Turning for home, Secret Reserve, winless in his past 10 starts, waited for an opening to emerge, as a host of others, including Avoman, Ron’s Gizmo, and Grandson, second-last and last, respectively, at the half-mile mark, and 2-1 choice Cruden Bay, all came with a run. 

Secret Reserve grabbed a tenuous lead in upper stretch before being headed by a rival, but the 5-year-old son of Giant Gizmo-Smart Suzie reclaimed the advantage and then dug in to cross the wire a head in front of 14-1 Grandson, who was supplemented to the race. Ron’s Gizmo was third and Cruden Bay finished fourth. Artie’s Storm, Rapid Test and Town Cruise were scratched. 

The final time was 1:43.91.  

“I love this horse,” said Salles. “The trip is working very well. I could save ground all the way. He’s not an easy ride, but I could control him well, and he waited for me.” 

Secret Reserve, who had posted four thirds from eight starts this year for trainer Mike Mattine and owners Carlo D’Amato and Stacey Van Camp, recorded his fourth stakes score. The dark bay won the 2021 editions of the Elgin and Lake Superior, and last year’s Bold Venture Stakes (G3), his most recent victory prior to the Steady Growth. 

“He’s a nice, honest horse and this year we had a lot of tough results,” said Mattine. “But he finally came through today. The inside was really good the last week or so and he had a good post. He stayed on the rail and saved ground.”  

A $9,000 (CDN) purchase at the 2019 CTHS Canadian Premier Yearling Sale, Secret Reserve, sixth in the 2021 Steady Growth, is now 6-1-6 from 21 starts. 

He paid $9.60 for today’s victory.