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TORONTO, ON – Il Malocchio, coming off a third-place finish in the Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser, stalked the pace from fourth and rallied smartly through the lane to give trainer Marty Drexler the biggest win of his career in Saturday’s $250,000 Bison City Stakes.
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In winning the 1 1/16-mile Bison City by a 1/2-length under Patrick Husbands, Il Malocchio dispatched of five fellow Canadian-bred fillies, including the highly-fancied Miss Speedy, who faltered to finish fourth at odds of 2/5.
“She ran a big race today,” said Husbands, who was riding his leading eighth stakes winner of the meeting. “Last time, she tricked me. By the 1/4-pole, I thought I had the race won, but when I asked her, she paused for about three strides and those three strides cost me the Oaks.
“Today, before we swung for home, I made sure I had her in gear.”
The Bison City unfolded as expected with Miss Speedy, unbeaten in 2 previous starts, went straight to the front from her inside post and led by 2 1/2 lengths through a 1/4 in :23.57 and a 1/2 in :46.68.
And while she maintained a 2 1/2-length lead through 6 furlongs in 1:11.13, her supremacy was about to be threatened as first Emmeline and then Il Malcocchio loomed large.
Emmeline, who had nosed out Il Malocchio for second money in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks, had raced closest to Miss Speedy throughout and had led by a head over Il Malocchio with a furlong to run, only to succumb grudgingly as they stopped the clock in 1:43.42.
The second-place finish was the fourth straight for the hard-luck Emmeline, who remains a maiden after 7 starts.
Cielo d’Oro closed for third money, 3 lengths behind the runner-up and 3/4 of a length before Miss Speedy.
Miss Marie and Youens rounded out the order of finish.
Owned and bred by Franco Meli, Il Malocchio placed in a pair of Woodbine stakes at age 2 and was sent south to trainer Kenny McPeek with a long-term eye toward the Woodbine Oaks. After finishing third in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Il Malocchio was up the track in the Fair Grounds Oaks but then finished a good second in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Keeneland with Kenny McPeek as her trainer of record.
Back home with Drexler at Woodbine, Il Malocchio opened up with a fourth-place finish in the 7-furlong Fury before her solid effort in the Woodbine Oaks, where she was beaten 1 1/4 lengths.
“She’s special,” said Drexler. “In my barn, we run a lot of cheaper, middle claimers. We don’t have a lot of horses like this. It’s nice to get one that you can play on this stage.”
Sent off as the 9/2 third choice, Il Malocchio returned $11.50 and topped a $33.60 with the 4.4/1 Emmeline. Cielo d’Oro, at 15/1, rounded out a $198.10 trifecta with Miss Speedy completing a $1 superfecta worth $207.75.
The Bison City followed the Woodbine Oaks as the second leg of Canada’s Triple Tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies. The $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes, at 1 1/4 miles on E.P. Taylor Turf Course, concludes the series on October 2.
“She gives it all; she’s going to be getting close to being over the top”, said Drexler. “But, I have to think that’s where we’re going to aim.”
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