TORONTO, ON – Sam-Son Farm’s homebred Desert Ride dug deep along the inside for much of the stretch run to outduel a very game Preferred Guest and win Saturday’s $225,000 Wonder Where Stakes at Woodbine.

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Breaking from post 5 under Steven Bahen as the 3/2 slight second betting option, Desert Ride settled into fourth for much of the early running. Up front, the even-money favorite Speedy Soul tried to push Niigon’s Spin through passive opening fractions of :26.49, :50.40, 1:14.96, and 1:39.33.

Ranging up to the pace-setters in the far turn, Desert Ride tipped out to run three-wide around the front pair. Preferred Guest was hot on her heels and soon went to the far outside for a bid to the lead.

Straightening for home, Niigon’s Spin and Speedy Soul were soon out of the race, allowing Preferred Guest and Desert Ride to duke it out for the finish. Despite Preferred Guest running game as can be, she was no match for the winner.

The Neil Howard-trained Desert Ride completed the 1 1/4-mile event over the firm outer turf course in 2:02.01.

“She’s a big fighter,” Bahen said. “She got her head in front, and then I knew the last part, she’d come running. She just wants more ground. She dug back in and took off.”

Niigon’s Spin weakened in the stretch but still held onto third over Court Return, while Sport’n Forty outran the spent Speedy Soul to complete the order of finish.

Grand Mesa broke through her gate as she loaded, and in doing so scraped herself enough that she was scratched on advice of the on-track veterinarian.

Desert Ride’s win was her third in four starts, having upset the Woodbine Oaks at 8/1 odds before finishing fifth in the Queen’s Plate Stakes. The 3-year-old Ontario-bred daughter of Candy Ride improved her record to 6-4-1-0 with $414,696 earned.

“I was very, very impressed,” Howard said. “Steve rode her beautifully, as he always does. I was a little concerned for a second – there was a little bit of a fight down the stretch – because most of those horses were pretty fresh when they turned in the lane, given the fractions and everything. She had to dig in, and she did, and I couldn’t be happier for the Sam-Son group. They’re just wonderful, it couldn’t be more well-deserved.”

Desert Ride returned $5.10 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.50 to show. Preferred Guest brought back $4.90 to place and $3.90 to show, while Niigon’s Spin paid $5.30 to show.