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TORONTO, ON – Lift Up, finishing strongly under rider Patrick Husbands, was along in time to score by a neck over She’s the Berries as the 9/5 favourite in Sunday’s $100,000 Belle Mahone Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.
Maryland-based trainer Michael Dickinson was on hand to send out Lift Up for the Belle Mahone, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on the Tapeta which attracted a field of six.
“I got a nice trip,” said Patrick Husbands, who was recording his meet-leading 12th stakes win and his third career score in the Belle Mahone following successes with Stars to Shine in 2011 and Uchenna in 2016.
“She was so relaxed throughout the whole backside and that was the key riding her today. Michael says she’s very aggressive. I galloped her yesterday morning, and she was pretty aggressive.”
Lift Up, breaking from the inside post, was eased back and moved off the rail heading down the backstretch as Lunar Garden led through opening fractions of :24.24 and :49.45.
Ladies Night was chasing in second as the others bunched up heading into the far turn, and the early leaders remained in place as the 6 furlongs went by in 1:13.51.
Lift Up was moving on the far outside at that point and looked a major danger. She’s the Berries, meanwhile, had saved ground throughout and was hitting her stride on the inside as they turned for home.
The outcome was in doubt until the final yards, but Lift Up was good enough for the fractional victory over the 2/1 second choice in a final time of 1:43.57.
Lunar Garden ran well to hold on for third money, just a nose behind She’s the Berries and 1 3/4 lengths before fourth-place A.A. Azula’s Arch, who had loomed menacingly around the far turn in her first start since late March.
Monte Christa, in touch early, faltered to finish fifth and Ladies Night retreated to last place.
Lift Up, a 5-year-old Augustin Stable homebred, was recording her third career stakes win after taking the Miss Liberty over 1 1/16 miles of grass at Monmouth last June and the mile and 70-yard West Virginia President’s Cup on the Mountaineer Park turf course last time out.
“We think she’s going to be better going longer,” said Dickinson, who was sending out his second stakes winner of the meeting after watching Pamina win the Ontario Matron in July. “Now that we’ve got her to relax, she’ll go as long as we want. She’s bred to go a mile and a half.”
Lift Up ($5.70, $3.10, $2.20) fronted a 1-2 exacta with She’s the Berries ($3.00, $2.20) worth $14.20. The 1-2-6 trifecta with Lunar Gardens ($3.00) was worth $50.00 and the 1-2-6-5 superfecta returned $56.00 for $1.
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