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TORONTO, ON – Local legend and sprinting superstar Pink Lloyd is back on top after recording his second consecutive Bold Venture Stakes (G3) victory, and Miss Speedy sped her way to triumph in the $141,300 Duchess Stakes, on Saturday’s card at Woodbine.
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After 2 tough Bold Venture experiences, the 7-time Sovereign Award winner made it back-to-back wins in the 6 1/2-furlong Tapeta race for three-year-olds and up.
Pink Lloyd finished fifth in the 2018 running and was declared a non-starter in the 2019 edition when he broke through the starting gate early. Last year, in his third Bold Venture attempt, the Robert Tiller trainee split rivals to earn his elusive first win in the race.
On Saturday at Woodbine, Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2017 was once again at his very best in the $168,900 event.
With Rafael Hernandez aboard, Pink Lloyd was in unfamiliar territory early on, as the veteran campaigner was taken to the front in a compact field of five (Reconfigure was scratched) that was devoid of early speed.
Joined to the outside by Lucky Curlin, Pink Lloyd rattled off an opening 1/4 in :23.83, holding a 1/2-length advantage of over the second choice on the board. It was status quo through a 1/2 timed in :46.68, as the cat-and-mouse game between the frontrunners began to heat up around the turn for home.
Pink Lloyd, to the inside, was engaged by Lucky Curlin as the pair straightened for home, but Pink Floyd dug in gamely to fend off the strong challenge enroute to a 3/4-length victory in a time of 1:15.13.
The son of Old Forester went off as the even-money choice and returned $4.10 to win. Lucky Curlin finished second and Lookin to Strike was third.
“I just monitored to see what happens,” said Hernandez, of the early strategy. “If somebody goes crazy, I’ll just sit next to him, if they don’t, I’m just going to let him do his thing.
“I know he (Lucky Curlin) was breathing next to me all the way, but I trust Pink Lloyd. I said, ‘When you turn for home, you’re going to stretch your legs and you’re going to say bye-bye.’”
It was the fourth Bold Venture title for Tiller. The Hall of Famer won in 1977 with Pres de Tu and again in 2006 with Are You Serious.
Tiller, joined by his wife Gail in the winner’s circle, was emotional in the post-race interview.
“I never trained a 9-year-old stakes winner,” offered the lifetime winner of over 2,050 races. “He’s still out here beating the best sprinters. I’m just so very happy today because I thought he should have won his last race. This is not his best race on the lead, that’s not what he wants. He likes to run at horses. He’s a very competitive horse, but we had no choice today. Raffi just rode his race. As soon as the gates opened, I knew he was going to make the lead. We didn’t want to get shuffled back because there really is no speed in the race.”
Bred in Ontario by John Carey and owned by the Entourage Stable, the chestnut gelding now has 27 career wins, 24 of them stakes.
“It’s an amazing story,” said Tiller. “I don’t think any horse is going to come along soon and do what he’s done. He’s running because he’s so happy. He’s sounder now than he’s ever been. I thank the good Lord that my wife is here to see him. This one today is very special. We’re blessed to have had this horse. He’s an icon.”
In the other Saturday stakes action, Miss Speedy bested nine 3-year-old fillies over 7 furlongs on the main track in the Duchess
It was Miss Speedy, with Rafael Hernandez aboard, who emerged with the lead in a tightly-bunched group, holding a 1-length advantage after a 1/4 timed in :22.82. The duo was still running comfortably on the front end by 1 1/2 lengths after a 1/2-mile in :45.41, as Bellissime and Sweet Souper Sweet tracked the leader.
Hernandez called on Miss Speedy around the turn and the pair started to separate themselves from any late challengers with relative ease, maintaining their 2-length advantage at the stretch call for the victory.
Aug Lutes was second and Salty as Can Be, also a Casse trainee, was third.
The final time was 1:21.10.
Although the plan wasn’t to go to the lead, Hernandez was content to set the pace.
“I was thinking I was going to be second, maybe third, behind two horses that show early speed,” said the champion rider. “When the gates opened, my horse was in there, and I looked inside me and said, ‘No one is going to go, okay I’ll take it.’ And then everything was on the horse.”
It was the third win from 4 starts for the Mark Casse-trained filly, who launched her career with a couple of strong performances this summer for owners Gary Barber, Ryan Shane Kerbel, and Barry Kerbel.
Miss Speedy arrived at the Duchess off a fourth-place finish in the Bison City Stakes in what was her first added-money test.
The daughter of Souper Speedy paid $6.60 to win as the slight choice.
Miss Speedy was bred in Ontario by Linda Mason.
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