TORONTO, ON – Zilli Racing Stables’ Code Warrior saved energy with an easy early lead and used it late to stave off the 5-2 favorite Let It Ride Mom and defend her 2017 title in Sunday’s Grade 3, $125,000 Hendrie Stakes at Woodbine.
Breaking well from post 3 under Luis Contreras, the race’s defending champion cleared off to post relatively uncontested splits of :23.77 and :47.00 for the opening 1/2-mile. Coming under a ride at the top of the stretch, Code Warrior had more than enough left in her tank to hold sway through to the wire by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 1:!6.75 for the 6 1/2-furlong event over the main track’s synthetic surface.
“I was very comfortable, she feels great on the lead,” Contreras said. “She doesn’t need to be on the lead, but if nobody wants the lead and I feel comfortable, then just take it from there. I was a little bit surprised there wasn’t a little more pressure, but I’m so happy right now.”
Moonlit Promise rode a rail trip behind the winner and was able to overtake a fading Scotty’s Model for third. A head behind Scotty’s Model, Just Be Kind and Jennifer Lynnette dead-heated for fifth, with Tulsa Queen completing the order of finish. Lady Oak and Moon River were scratched.
Code Warrior’s win was her second of 2018 for trainer Michael De Paulo, including a small stakes score over the Gulfstream Park turf in January. The 5-year-old daughter of Society’s Chariman improved her record to 19-6-4-3 with earnings of $344,358. Owner Robert Marzilli purchased her for $190,000 from a breeding stock sale last November but chose to keep her in training, and she has rewarded him with a 4-2-1-0 record.
“She might have been a work short for her last race, but that certainly tightened her up for today,” said De Paulo. “I was hoping Luis wasn’t listening to my instructions. We went to the lead last time, and I thought if we could sit a little off it, that might be perfect, but when I saw the fractions, I said, ‘Attaboy Luis, go on with it!’”
Code Warrior returned $14.20 to win, $5.20 to place, and $3.30 to show. Let It Ride Mom brought back $4 to place and $2.90 to show, while Moonlit Promise paid $2.70 to show.