Camp Creek sails to 26-1 upset in Breeders’ Stakes

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Jen Caldwell

August 21st, 2016

Hillsbrook Farms’ Camp Creek broke his maiden on July 15 at Woodbine in his fourth career start, but it was also his first try on turf.

The gray gelding proved his love for the surface switch yet again on Sunday when upsetting Woodbine’s $389,433 Breeders’ Stakes, the third jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, over Queen’s Plate victor Sir Dudley Digges.

Camp Creek settled into a rear-running spot early under jockey Rafael Hernandez as Scholar Athlete led the way on the backstretch through splits of :49.66, 1:15.30 and 1:39.62. Sir Dudley Digges gradually made his way forward through the pack to take a brief lead in the lane, but Camp Creek was closing fast after angling out and going wide on the turn.

The Rachel Halden trainee was six wide upon hitting the stretch and powered home to catch Sir Dudley Digges and stop the clock in 2:29.45 for 1 1/2 miles over Woodbine’s firm turf.

"I can't say I was expecting it, but we were hopeful and thought he deserved a chance,” Halden said. “To me, he was just an improving horse. I'd been looking to get him on the grass for a while and when we did he won quite nicely and it looked like a stretch out in distance wouldn’t be an issue for him.

“Sometimes, when you have a three-year-old Canadian-bred you need to take a chance at these kinds of races."

Halden and veteran jockey Hernandez, who just made the move to Woodbine for the 2016 season, were both earning their first Breeders’ Stakes win.

“When I passed the wire, I said, ‘I won.’ I can’t believe it,” Hernandez said.

“He broke good. He settled back a little bit. I had a little trouble in the first turn. One horse came out a little bit. He grabbed a little bit of heels, so he settled back even more and he relaxed himself.

“At the three-eighths (pole), I started to ask him to pick it up. When we turned for home, I put him clear and he did everything on his own.”

Camp Creek paid $55.30 as the 26-1 eighth choice in the 11-horse field. Sir Dudley Digges, who knows all about upsets with his 15-1 triumph in Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, followed in second by 1 1/4 lengths.

"It was a great trip,” said jockey Robby Albarado, who was riding Sir Dudley Digges for the first time. “I had to ride him a little bit early and I kind of inherited the lead on my own turning for home. He kept on but the winner ran by me with authority. It's a rare distance for these horses at this point in their career, but he handled it well."

It was four lengths back to Leavem in Malibu in third, who just got up to deny Scholar Athlete that spot by a neck. Conquest Daddyo, the 9-5 favorite, took fifth over Queen’s Plate runner-up Amis Gizmo, who captured the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown last out in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. Completing the order of finish were Gotta Get Away, Niigon’s Edge, Last Class to Go, Narrow Escape and Rocket Plan.

Camp Creek is now 5-2-0-1 in his career having banked $273,445 in lifetime earnings. The sophomore son of Dunkirk finished sixth in his debut at Tampa Bay Downs in April, ran fourth while trying Woodbine’s synthetic Polytrack for the first time in May, then filled the third spot in a similar Woodbine maiden in June.

The gelding finally broke through when switching over to Woodbine’s turf on July 15, posting a 2 3/4-length triumph that day going 1 1/8 miles.

Bred in Ontario by Garland E. Williamson, Camp Creek is the first registered stakes scorer out of the winning Storm Boot mare Go Go Neigh. That mare is a half-sister to stakes winners Like a Gem, who is herself the dam of multiple Grade 1 queen Hard Not to Like, and Win and Reign, as well as the Grade 3-placed duo of Cool Gator and Ruby Lips.

In addition to Hard Not to Like, this female line also boasts Grade 1 victor Firery Ensign.

Camp Creek photo courtesy of WEG/Michael Burns Photography