TORONTO, ON – Trainer Roger Attfield’s veteran Are You Kidding Me, third in this event each of the past two years, finally found the race’s winner’s circle with a late rush to take Sunday’s $125,000 Dominion Day Stakes (G3) at Woodbine.
Breaking from the far outside post under Rafael Hernandez as the 5/2 second choice, Are You Kidding Me settled into mid-pack off the rail while his stablemate Final Copy posted opening fractions of :25.45 and :50.85. Midway down the backside, Aheadbyacentury took over and led into the far turn, but Pumpkin Rumble soon ranged up alongside him and was in front at the top of the stretch.
The new leader’s position was short-lived because Are You Kidding Me and the 6/5 favorite Special Forces came charging along the outside and Aheadbyacentury fought back on the inside. The four-wide wall of horses produced a thrilling stretch run that saw Are You Kidding Me squeeze through between foes in the final 1/16 of a mile. Inching away late, Are You Kidding Me crossed the wire with a 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 2:04.28 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the fast synthetic surface.
“It was quite the fight, but he always doesn’t give up,” Hernandez said. “He always gives you the most he has in the tank and he showed up today in the stretch and he still has more.”
Though he was outfinished by the winner, Special Forces ran strongly enough to take second by 3/4 of a length over Pumpkin Rumble, with Aheadbyacentury a neck back in fourth. Final Copy continued to be distanced after relinquishing the lead and completed the order of finish.
Souper Tapit was a stewards scratch.
Are You Kidding Me’s win was his first since taking the Eclipse Stakes (G2) here on May 26, 2018, and improved his overall record to 45-13-9-9. The 9-year-old son of Run Away and Hide has now earned $1,317,102 for co-owners and co-breeders Ronald Kirk, John Bates, and Michael Riordan.
“He’s getting older and he’s had quite a bit of time off this winter,” Attfield said. “Sometimes, those older horses, when they get that much time off, they get a little bit rusty, it takes them a little bit longer. It seemed like he just lost a step or two, to be quite honest with you, but he went into this race really well.”
Are You Kidding Me returned $7.40 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Special Forces brought back $2.50 to place and $2.20 to show, while Pumpkin Rumble paid $2.40 to show.