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TORONTO, ON – After only hitting the board once in her 3 prior stakes tries, Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Merveilleux doubled down with her second straight stakes score in Saturday’s $150,000 Ontario Damsel at Woodbine.
Merveilleux broke from post 2 under Rafael Hernandez as the 2/1 second choice and sat a close stalking trip while Justleaveitalone and Avie’s Samurai dueled heads apart just in front of her.
Given the green light midway through the far turn, Merveilleux safely angled out from the rail and took the lead as she swept by three-wide at the top of the stretch.
The Kevin Attard trainee drew off late to win the 1 1/16-mile fast synthetic route by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:44.37.
“I just wanted to make sure to get the right move at the right time,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t want to get it too early and then flatten out in the lane, but everything worked good in the whole race. We sat behind the speed horse, relaxed good, and everything worked perfect today.”
Avie’s Samurai held second by just a neck over Afleet Katherine, the winner’s stablemate.
Ann of Cleves, the even-money favorite Curlin’s Voyage, and Justleaveitalone completed the order of finish.
Merveilleux’s win backed up her last-out victory in the Wonder Where Stakes and improved her overall record to 11-4-3-1. The 3-year-old Paynter filly has now earned $374,649.
“She was kind of misfortunate earlier in the year to have some rough trips and some bad racing luck, but she’s really put it together lately and I’m just happy to see it for the owners,” Attard said. “We’re just happy that she’s progressed like we wanted her to and hopefully she turns out to be a nice 4-year-old.”
Merveilleux returned $6.10 to win, $3.90 to place, and $2.90 to show. Avie’s Samurai brought back $5.10 to place and $3.70 to show, while Afleet Katherine paid $3.80 to show.
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