On Saturday, owner Gary Barber and trainer Mark Casse watched as wonder filly Wonder Gadot captured the Queen’s Plate over 14 colts and geldings and one filly at Woodbine.
Fast forward 24 hours and Casse made a repeat trip to the Woodbine winner’s circle after SAFE TO SAY pulled off a neck score in the $171,217 Bison City Stakes to secure the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Tiara for Barber and Jeff Begg of Windways Farm.
Katie Baby led the way in the 1 1/16-mile contest, setting fractions of :23.95, :48.28 and 1:12.72 while tracked by Avie’s Mineshaft. Meanwhile, Safe to Say bided her time in midpack under jockey Jerome Lermyte before angling four wide on the turn.
Katie Baby still held a short advantage over Avie’s Mineshaft in the lane, but Safe to Say was closing fast. The bay daughter of Justin Phillip ran down the top pair to stick her neck in front on the wire.
Sent off the 5-1 fifth choice in the seven-filly field, Safe to Say paid $13.40 for stopping the clock in 1:44.41 over the synthetic Tapeta main track. Avie’s Mineshaft lost the war but won the battle over Katie Baby, getting her head down on the wire first to take second.
It was three parts of a length behind Katie Baby to 2-1 favorite Hot Cash, who was followed under the line by Lunar Garden, Midnight Flash and Mo Big Cat.
Safe to Say now boasts a 9-3-0-3, $201,497 career record. She earned her first stakes win in the Bison City, adding it to third-place runs in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes from last year and the Selene Stakes (Can-G3) one race prior on May 19. The bay sophomore gave Casse a fourth win in the Bison City, and his second straight after Enstone wired last year’s edition.
Bred in Ontario by Bay Ridge Orchards Limited, Safe to Say is out of the multiple stakes-placed Yonaguska mare Dicey Girl. This is the same female family as champion and sire Turkoman.
The third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara is the Wonder Where Stakes going 1 1/4 miles over Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor turf course on August 12.
BISON CITY QUOTES
Mark Casse, trainer Safe to Say, winner
“I think we kind of picked this out and said this was the race. She has improved this year. It was a great ride by (jockey) Jerome (Lermyte). He’s a very good rider. He just tries so hard. I’m proud of her and I’m proud of him.”
Jerome Lermyte, jockey Safe to Say, winner
“We didn’t want to get in traffic trouble. The race unfolded perfectly. When we asked her, she delivered a nice fight and she went all the way. We are very happy today.”
Jeff Begg of Windways Farm, co-owner Safe to Say, winner
“She’s always been a pretty nice filly, but just couldn’t quite find the exact thing for her. I think she’s a seven-eighths to a mile horse. That’s why we passed the Woodbine Oaks and we came here, it’s a little shorter. She showed some form on the turf, so we might head that direction as well. She just seems like she’s put it together this year.”
Two races earlier at Woodbine, Chiefswood Stables’ homebred TIZ A SLAM helped trainer Roger Attfield celebrate Canada Day, informally known as Canada’s birthday, by upsetting 3-2 favorite Melmich in the $107,711 Dominion Day Stakes (Can-G3).
Ridden by Steven Bahen, the four-year-old son of Tiznow took command of the 1 1/4-mile contest out of the gate and never looked back. Setting pedestrian fractions of :25.51, :50.84, 1:15.37 and 1:38.81, the bay colt was threatened by two-time defending champion Melmich in the stretch.
Tiz a Slam dug in and turned back the challenge from Melmich to post a 1 1/4-length score in a final time of 2:03.11 on the Tapeta. He returned $25 as the 11-1 fifth choice in the seven-horse field.
Melmich had two lengths to spare over third-placer and 9-5 second favorite Are You Kidding Me on the wire. Gigantic Breeze rounded out the top four and completing the order of finish were Black Sea, 2016 Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges and Dragon Bay.
Tiz a Slam has now captured a stakes in each of the past three years, and improved his career mark to read 17-5-2-1, $560,142. In addition to wins in the 2016 Cup and Saucer Stakes and last season’s Ontario Derby (Can-G3), he also finished second in the 2017 Queen’s Plate and third in the this year’s Fair Grounds Handicap (G3).
The Ontario-bred Tiz a Slam is out of the Grand Slam mare Flamingo Rose, making him a half-brother to stakes-placed Holy Flame. His third dam is multiple Group 2 winner Flame of Tara, from whom is descended numerous Grade/Group 1, 2 and 3 winners.
DOMINION DAY QUOTES
Roger Attfield, trainer Tiz a Slam, winner
“This horse, he actually trained super into this race. He’s a big, long-striding horse and he likes just to gallop. The last few races, we’ve been wide in some of those races because you can’t check him. He’s got to keep striding. He trained like he could win the race if he got his trip and he dug in well down the lane, which I was clearly pleased to see. He’s a nice horse.”
Steven Bahen, jockey Tiz a Slam, winner
“I know we were going pretty slow and he was tugging me the whole way. He got some good fractions and that’s why he finished up so strong. (Trainer) Roger (Attfield) had him ready today and it was fantastic.”
The Canada Day stakes action at Woodbine kicked off with Ivan Dalos’ SILENT SONET capturing the $77,641 Zadracarta Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over 2-1 favorite Niigon’s Eclipse.
With jockey Eurico Da Silva aboard, the Nicholas Gonzalez-trained daughter of Silent Name ran seven furlongs over the firm turf in 1:19.74, just .36 seconds off the track record set by Soaring Free in 2004. The four-year-old miss paid $8.10 for the win as the 3-1 third choice.
Silent Sonet added a second stakes win to her resume, having already scored in last year’s La Prevoyante Stakes. Her scorecard now stands at 9-4-0-1 and she’s banked $174,342 lifetime.
Nicholas Gonzalez, trainer Silent Sonet, winner
“Actually, we had a plan with her. We wanted to get her back on the turf where she had most of her success last year. She had a nice blowout in :58 and change for the race. She’s being doing really well after her first two races.
“She’s put on so much weight. You see the size of her now. To add to that – in a positive way – mentally, she’s even there more now. She’s grown up now.”
Eurico Da Silva, jockey Silent Sonet, winner
“Our plan was to stay back a little bit more. We know she loves the grass and she was very keen today. She broke there and she positioned herself in third and second place, she was traveling very easy and I didn’t want to bother her. She was happy where she was. When we turned for home, she kicked from there.”