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Woodbine Picks | Ruling Angel Stakes 2024
Witwatersrand (Michael Burns Photo)

Woodbine Picks | Ruling Angel Stakes 2024

Dual Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse will send out champion Witwatersrand and C C Royal in Saturday’s $100,000 Ruling Angel Stakes Presented by Ketel One, at Woodbine Racetrack.

The Ruling Angel is listed as race nine on the 10-race card, with a first post of 1:10 p.m.

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Set for seven furlongs on the all-weather track, the Ruling Angel, for 3-year-old fillies, has attracted six starters, including Sovereign Award winner Witwatersrand, owned by Gary Barber, and Mens Grille Racing’s C C Royal.

A daughter of Connect, Witwatersrand, feted as Canada’s champion 2-year-old female in April, returns to Woodbine after a pair of Grade 3 stakes engagements in Florida.

Bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey, Jr., the bay filly was sixth in the Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 2 and eleventh in the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs on March 9.

“I ran her on the dirt at Gulfstream and she just didn’t handle it at all,” said Casse. “Then we tried her on the grass at Tampa and it was mixed reviews. I am excited to get her back on the all-weather. I think that is the key. Having Patrick [jockey, Husbands] aboard isn’t going to hurt.”

Witwatersrand made a winning debut last September at Woodbine, a three-quarter length score at 6 ½ panels over the all-weather track as the 2-1 choice.

Third in the seven-furlong Glorious Song next time out, she followed that effort up with a 2 ¾-length triumph at 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather in the Mazarine Stakes (G3).

“It was a tremendous race in the Mazarine,” praised Casse. “She rated nicely, and I thought she was extremely impressive. She ran fast [1:43.72]. When she brings her A-game, we know she is very tough.

“She has been a little hit and miss at this point, so we’re hoping Saturday is a hit.”

Witwatersrand, 2-0-1 from five starts, has had a steady work tab ahead of the Ruling Angel, including a four-furlong breeze in :48.00 over the all-weather on May 11. ​

A $65,000 yearling purchase and then bought back for $37,000 as a 2-year-old in training in Ocala, Barber purchased the filly for $230,000 last October at the Fasig-Tipton Digital Sale.

C C Royal, bred in Ontario by Windways Farm, was fifth in her first effort over the Woodbine all-weather in last month’s Star Shoot Stakes.

“I was disappointed in her last effort,” said Casse. “I thought she would have run better but she was very flat.”

The chestnut daughter of Flatter made her first five starts at Laurel Park, which yielded two wins and a trio of thirds.

She broke her maiden second time out, an 8 ¼-length romp at 5 ½ panels over the main track last December.

C C Royal’s other victory came in her 3-year-old debut when she posted a five-length win at seven panels on March 3 as the 1-5 choice.

Her record stands at 2-0-3 from six starts.

“She’s doing well. We thought she had trained very well coming into the Star Shoot and she just didn’t show up. We’re going into this one scratching our heads. There is a chance that she just isn’t as good on the all-weather, but we’ll know more after Saturday.”

Casse is no stranger to Ruling Angel success having won the past two editions, in 2022 with Summertime Magic and last year with Ryder Ryder Ryder.

A Little Frisky, Do It Divi, Rosa, and Sabatini are the other starters.

Field for the Ruling Angel at Woodbine

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

  1. Do It Divi – Luis Contreras – Jonathan Thomas
  2. Sabatini – Sofia Vives – Josie Carroll
  3. A Little Frisky – Kazushi Kimura – Josie Carroll
  4. C C Royal – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse
  5. Rosa – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
  6. Witwatersrand – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse