As the least experienced runner in Saturday’s $108,980 Singspiel Stakes (G3), Count Again also had upside in a field of usual suspects at Woodbine. That proved the key, for the Sam-Son Farm homebred took a step forward to capture his stakes debut. Yet he also had to survive a stewards’ inquiry into his wayward lurch in the stretch before retaining his victory.
Trained by Gail Cox, the well-bred son of Awesome Again had just missed by a neck in an allowance over this course and 1 1/4-mile trip. Cox decided to trim his blinkers back a bit, as jockey Luis Contreras revealed, and the equipment modification might have been a factor. But Count Again was also eligible to continue his progress in just this sixth lifetime start, and got bet down from a 20-1 morning line to 9-1.
The scratch of Admiralty Pier, who opted for the day’s marquee event, the Woodbine Mile (G1), left Tiz a Slam as the controlling speed. The defending Singspiel champion duly tried to repeat his wire job from last year by doling out splits of :25.82, :49.91, 1:13.65, and 1:37.20 on the firm course.
Tiz a Slam was in better form in the summer of 2019, though, and this time he ultimately weakened down the lane. Nakamura made a menacing move rounding the far turn to threaten, only to flatten out.
Count Again, who had been steadied and shuffled further back in the pack, followed in his wake to launch the strongest bid of all. Wandering in as he unleashed his momentum, the 5-year-old gelding caused Nakamura to shy in reaction and tighten up Sir Sahib. But Count Again then straightened up and held sway by 1 1/4 lengths in a final time of 2:00.67.
Sir Sahib altered course and finished well to collar Count Again’s stablemate, Say the Word, for second. Nakamura was another half-length back in fourth, followed by Woodbridge; the lukewarm 3.65-1 favorite Standard Deviation; Tiz a Slam, the slight second choice at the same price; Skywire; and Jungle Fighter.
After the stewards took a look at the stretch run, Count Again returned $21.10 and boosted his bankroll to $137,517 from his 6-3-1-2 line. The Ontario-bred is out of the Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Count to Three, who’s been better known as the dam of two-time Bing Crosby (G1) hero Ransom the Moon. The Red Ransom mare has proven her versatility by producing a top dirt sprinter and now a graded-winning turf router.
The Woodbine Mile Day stakes action opened with a bang as first-time starter Credit River sprang a 41-1 upset of the $117,985 Ontario Racing Stakes, capitalizing on a pace collapse to pay $84.20.
A homebred for Garland Williamson’s Hillsbrook Farms, the 2-year-old brought a fine pedigree but not much else into what appeared an audacious career debut. The More Than Ready half-brother to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Hard Not to Like was thrown in against speed merchants in a 5-furlong turf sprint, and trainer Breeda Hayes had not yet sent out a stakes winner. But Credit River vindicated the placement in style.
Wesley Ward’s Amsden, the even-money favorite after the scratch of Ready to Repeat (who goes in Sunday’s Summer Stakes [G1]), hooked up in a pace war with Quick Tempo. Living up to his name, Quick Tempo had a slim advantage through a torrid opening quarter in :21.43, and Amsden got the upper hand at the half in :45.09.
By the time the duelists turned into the stretch, however, they were rubber-legged. Souper Classy was the first to overhaul them, but Sky’s Not Falling rallied from farther back to take charge.
Meanwhile, Credit River was angling out with purpose for Emma-Jayne Wilson. Last early as he was allowed to get comfortable, the gray was still at the rear in midstretch, but now only a couple of lengths down. Once lengthening stride in the clear, Credit River swiftly erased the gap and won going away by three-quarters of a length in :57.06.
Runner-up Sky’s Not Falling gives the form a solid look, coming off a third to Ward’s stellar Golden Pal and Fauci in the Skidmore at Saratoga. Souper Classy placed third, and Too Legit rounded out the superfecta.
The Quick Tempo-Amsden battle continued into the stewards’ room. Although Quick Tempo outfinished Amsden who was last across the wire, the beaten favorite’s rider, Justin Stein, lodged an objection for interference in the stretch. The stewards agreed that Quick Tempo, under Rafael Hernandez, hampered Amsden and accordingly demoted him from fifth to last of the six.
Credit River opened his account with a $73,613 deposit, likely just a down payment from a colt who galloped out like one wanting to stretch out. After all, his dam, the Tactical Cat mare Like a Gem, scored her most lucrative stakes wins over 1 1/4 miles – in the 2006 Wonder Where on the Woodbine turf (at 48-1) and the 2007 Maple Leaf where she set a track record on the synthetic.
The companion turf dash for juvenile fillies, the $102,853 Woodbine Cares Stakes, also witnessed a rousing finish as Dirty Dangle flew to deny Ward’s 1.95-1 favorite Illegal Smile.
Another stakes performer for hot freshman sire Not This Time, Dirty Dangle was switching to turf after winning her Aug. 16 debut on Woodbine’s Tapeta. The Ralph Biamonte trainee raced within striking distance on the inside, but had to wait for others to play their hands before she could peel out.
Early leader Chatelet, who was a head up through an opening quarter in :22.14, was headed by pace rival Souper Munnings as they reached the half in :45.15. But Rocket Reload was already bearing down on the leaders turning for home. As she pounced in the stretch, Illegal Smile was winding up and soon struck the front.
At last, Dirty Dangle came around them all for Sheena Ryan. Taking off to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths, the 9-2 chance clocked :56.82, slightly faster than Credit River’s :57.06.
Illegal Smile salvaged second by a head from Rocket Reload. Souper Munnings, Forest Drift, Chatelet, and Silent Mamba rounded out the order of finish.
Now 2-for-2, Dirty Dangle has earned $93,903 for C. DeMizio and Mary Biamonte. The gray was a bargain-basement $8,000 Keeneland September yearling who went to Biamonte for $25,000 at OBS in March. She gets her color from her dam, the Alphabet Soup mare Chambray.