Not many runners in the Graded stakes at Woodbine on Saturday but no shortage of excitement, with US invader Bluebirds Over looking a colt with real potential when maintaining his unbeaten record in the G3 Grey. The fillies’ equivalent, the G3 Mazarine Stakes, produced a hectic finish with trailblazer Renegade Rebel just hanging on to her lead as the posse closed in.
G3, $150,000, 1m 1/16 all-weather, 2yo
Bluebirds takes flight
The merits of US form over Canadian form were underlined in the Grey at Woodbine on Saturday, when the well-named Bluebirds Over came away from his cross-border excursion with a first stakes win and his unbeaten record intact.
The Grey was reduced to five runners following the expected scratch of two Mark Casse-trained fillies and then visually to a two-horse race, with 5-2 joint-second choice Bluebirds Over leading early before ceding the speed to longshot One Bay Hemingway. Bluebirds Over threw down a challenge at the top of the lane, ran down the pace-setter at the eighth pole and dug in well to beat him by a length and a half, in a time of 1:45 and one-fifth. Mo Tourist rallied for third, a length further back, but the favourite Hal made no impact, trailing in a distant last.
“He was way more relaxed today than on his debut,” said winning jockey Edgard Zayas. “He broke sharp and I thought he was really impressive.”
Now two-for-two, Bluebirds Over had made an impressive debut when romping by eight lengths in a Gulfstream Park maiden. Trainer Saffie Joseph may now put the son of English Channel on the Triple Crown trail, targeting him at one of the early ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ preps at Gulfstream or the Fair Grounds.
G3, $150,000, 1m 1/16 all-weather, 2yo fillies
Rebel toughs it out
Mark Casse’s multiple-choice approach to these two races paid dividends when the pair he scratched from the Grey filled out the exacta in the Mazarine, with Renegade Rebel justifying favouritism with a narrow success on her stakes debut.
It was a tactical masterclass from jockey Rafael Hernandez, who hustled the even-money chance out of the gate and into the lead and then played his own game, keeping the filly in her comfort zone with ordinary fractions until sending her four lengths clear approaching the far turn.
That move proved decisive, as Renegade Rebel was very weary in the final sixteenth but had stolen a big enough advantage to get home by a neck from her hard-charging barnmate Ryder Ryder Ryder, with Honor D Lady three-quarters of a length back in third. The stopwatch showed 1:44 and four-fifths, faster than the colts in the Grey.
“When the others were coming, it looked like she was kind of waiting,” said Hernandez, who evidently felt more confident than the filly’s supporters. “And after the wire, I couldn’t pull her up. I had to go up to the outrider to get pulled over.”
Renegade Rebel, who cost current connections $700,000, has been something of a slow-burner, losing her first three races before getting it right with a seven-length all-the-way score on her previous start.
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