Husbands lands double stakes win at Woodbine
TORONTO, Canada (CMC):
Woodbine legend Patrick Husbands rolled back the years with an added-money brace for champion trainer Mark Casse when he swept the CDN$175,000 Royal North Stakes and the $150,000 Belle Mahone Stakes at the southern Ontario racetrack on Saturday.
In the Royal North in race seven over six and a half furlongs for the four-year-old and upwards fillies and mares, the 50-year-old Husbands produced a late surge aboard favourite OUR FLASH DRIVE to take the wire one and a quarter lengths clear in a time of one minute, 13.88 seconds.
Husbands immediately followed up on SUPER HOITY TOITY in the Belle Mahone in race eight over a mile and sixteenth, outlasting favourite MOIRA - Canada's reigning Horse of the Year - to complete a narrow victory by a neck in a time of 1:44.49.
The Barbadian now has 13 wins from 47 rides and is already up to CDN$583,379 in earnings for the season, which got under way on April 22.
After finishing a disappointing fourth aboard 2-1 chance WHY EM SEA AY in his only previous start in race five, Husbands quickly made amends with OUR FLASH DRIVE to collar the four-year-old and upwards fillies and mares.
FOREST DRIFT - one of the long shots in the race - pulled the field through fractions of 22.92 seconds for the quarter and 45.24 for the half, with OUR FLASH DRIVE stalking from second and SWEET ENOUGH and OWEN'S TOUR GUIDE within striking distance.
FOREST DRIFT took the field into the stretch but was worn down by OUR FLASH DRIVE, the five-year-old bay mare taking the lead at the furlong marker before pulling away confidently.
Eleven-to-one choice SWEET ENOUGH finished second, with 4-1 bet MILLIE GIRL and FOREST DRIFT fading to be fourth.
"That horse on the lead, she was doing it so easy," Husbands said of FOREST DRIFT.
"Her ears were pricked, and she was doing it so easy. I said, 'I've got to go after this filly now.'
"She (OUR FLASH DRIVE) is a class horse, and when you go into these races, you have to ride them with confidence."
The win was the third successive graded stakes win for OUR FLASH DRIVE, following her capture of the Grade Three Whimsical last month and the Grade One Bessarabian in November.
Up against the four-year-old and upwards fillies and mares in the Belle Mahone, Husbands broke SUPER HOITY TOITY sharply to lead, producing lazy splits of 25.26 and 50.75 with the four-year-old bay filly, with 9-1 chance II MALOCCHIO and Queen's Plate winner MOIRA stalking.
II MALOCCHIA moved up to challenge SUPER HOITY TOITY on the outside approaching the final turn, and the duo took the race into the stretch. SUPER HOITY TOITY successfully put away II MALOCCHIA but was forced to fend off the fast-finishing MOIRA.
"From looking at the racing form - Mark doesn't give me instructions, he depends on me - there was no speed in the race," Husbands said.
"The only way I could beat this filly (MOIRA) today, I've got to walk this race. If I walk this race, she can't get out. She (SUPER HOITY TOITY) is all guts."
Last summer, SUPER HOITY TOITY scored back-to-back graded stakes wins in the Ontario Colleen and the Selene.