by Teresa Genaro
With his 11-race winning streak ended by a third-place finish back in July, Pink Lloyd got right back on track with two wins in the last two months, and bettors had every confidence that he’d get his picture taken again on Saturday, sending him to the post of the Bold Venture Stakes (Can-G3) at Woodbine as the even-money favorite.
Some might argue that the six-year-old’s race was over before it began. The notoriously obstreperous Pink Lloyd broke through the gate before the start of the race, unseating rider Eurico Da Silva and running off briefly before being caught, re-mounted and reloaded.
The temperature was at an unseasonably warm 80 degrees when the gates officially opened for the race, and Pink Lloyd settled a half-dozen lengths off the lead, a little farther back than usual, but not an unheard-of position for the chestnut gelding. Breaking from post 8, Yorkton took his customary place on the lead, setting early fractions of :22.79 and :45.49 in the 6 1/2-furlong race over Woodbine’s Tapeta surface.
And it was there that Yorkton stayed, eventually pulling away to a 5 1/4-length score for his first graded win.
“My hat’s off to this horse,” said jockey Jesse Campbell. “He ran through his bridle today. I’ve loved this horse since he was a two-year-old.”
A four-year-old son of Speightstown, Yorkton was bred in Ontario by his owners, Chiefswood Stable. Trained by Stuart Simon, he is out of the unraced A.P. Indy mare Sunday Affair and is a half-brother to the multiple stakes-placed-Nipigon, who has captured this last two races at Presque Isle Downs and has earned nearly $340,000.
“Yorkton has been a nice little horse,” Simon said. “He’s really matured a lot in the last two months. He’s probably put on 50 pounds. I was really confident he’d run well today.”
Pink Lloyd pretty much stayed midpack to the finish line in the Bold Venture. Running four-wide coming into the final turn, he looked like he might make a bid, but Da Silva went to the crop early, getting no response. The reigning Canadian Horse of the Year eventually finished fifth, the first time he’s finished worse than third since his first stakes attempt in the Overskate Stakes nearly two years ago. But that didn’t stop trainer Robert Tiller from giving his popular charge a loving pat on the head as the horse was being unsaddled.
“He was too sharp, I guess,” Tiller said. “He broke through the gate, and he’s done this before. That didn’t help him any. He got away with that once last year, but that’s not a good thing.
“The heat today is tremendous, and that didn’t help him, either.”
A win in the Bold Venture would have made Pink Lloyd a millionaire, a status that the son of Old Forester seems likely to reach.
Though Tiller had gate-schooled him recently, he admitted that he’s going to have to reach back into his bag of tricks.
“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” he said, both rueful and philosophical.