TORONTO, ON – Gary Barber’s Lookin to Strike took command at the top of the stretch and held off a late rally from stablemate Curlin’s Honor by a neck to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $125,000 Ontario Derby at Woodbine.
Breaking from post 2 under Gary Boulanger at 4/1 odds, Lookin to Strike sat comfortably just off of Strike Me Down through opening fractions of :24.46, :49.39, and 1:12.11. Ranging up through the far turn, Lookin to Strike took over at the top of the stretch and initially appeared ready to blow away, but fellow Mark Casse trainee Curlin’s Honor was hot on his heels. The two engaged near the 1/16 pole, but Looking to Strike proved strong enough, beating Curlin’s Honor to the wire in a final time of 1:49.30 for the 9-furlong event over the fast all weather track.
“He kind of got a little lost when he got out there 2 or 3 in front,” Boulanger said. “He was sort of like, ‘Where did everybody go? Who am I supposed to run at?’ I was kind of chirpin’ and screamin’ at him. I could hear someone coming, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got something left here.’ Galloping out, he just took off again. He’s a pretty nice colt.”
The 8/5 favorite Mr Ritz never threatened despite running all out in the stretch and finished third ahead of a fading Strike Me Down. Peppered and Flight Deck completed the order of finish.
Lookin to Strike’s win was his first career stakes score and improved his overall record to 9-4-0-0. The 3-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky has now earned $147,644.
“That was a great finish,” said Casse assistant Kathryn Sullivan. “They both ran really well. You can’t ask for more than that. Gary and I were talking in the paddock and he’s so confident in this horse. He said that he could do anything – he could go to the lead, he could wait – so you’ve got to love a horse like that. He rode him really smart, really confidently, and it was a great race.”
Lookin to Strike returned $10 to win, $4.90 to place, and $3.30 to show. Curlin’s Honor brought back $5.40 to place and $3.40 to show, while Mr Ritz paid $2.30 to show.