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TORONTO, ON – D.J. Stable and Empire Racing Club’s Proven Strategies made easy work of his rivals, drawing away a clear winner in Saturday’s $100,000 Toronto Cup at Woodbine.
Proven Strategies and jockey Justin Stein broke from the rail as the 3/1 second choice and remained running on the front end as Bexar came to join the early fun.
After dueling heads apart through opening fractions of :22.80 and :45.15, Proven Strategies dispatched of Bexar and the seven other 3-year-olds and widened his advantage through the far turn.
Needing only brief reminders from Stein to keep running, the Mark Casse trainee crossed 1 3/4 confident lengths clear while completing the one-turn firm outer turf mile in 1:33.78.
“I spoke with Mark on the phone this morning and he told me that (Proven Strategies) doesn’t really want to be in behind horses too much, he wants to be free running,” Stein said after riding Proven Strategies for the first time. “He’s really fast leaving, so it’s easy to get position, and we had the one hole, so our plan was to go hard out of the gate and then maybe back them up. It depended on the speed on the outside, but he settled early and was relaxed around the turn, and that saved a lot of horse for the stretch run.”
The winner’s stablemate Lucky Curlin rallied strongly from near the rear to nip the 4/5 favorite Shirl’s Speight for second by a nose.
Duke of Carthania (the third Casse entry), Told It All, Clear Destination, Runway Dreamer, Lookinatamiracle, and Bexar completed the order of finish in the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
Proven Strategies’ win was his first at the stakes level and improved his overall record to 13-4-3-1 with $230,726 earned. Casse thought so highly of the Florida-bred Sky Mesa colt last fall that he entered him in both the Summer Stakes (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) while still a maiden (he finished fourth and sixth, respectively).
Proven Strategies returned $8.60 to win, $5.30 to place, and $3 to show. Lucky Curlin brought back $6.40 to place and $3.80 to show, while Shirl’s Speight paid $2.30 to show.
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