Stacked Deck states Sovereign case in Kennedy Road
Sunday's $160,009 Kennedy Road (G2) at Woodbine had Sovereign Award implications, with reigning champion Calgary Cat having a score to settle with Stacked Deck, who'd beaten him back in September's Bold Venture (G3). But Calgary Cat never factored, and Stacked Deck won the rematch even more emphatically, stating his case for year-end honors.
Given a perfect trip by Luis Contreras, the 5-2 second choice sat in the catbird’s seat in third early. Up front, longshots Rexton and Paso Doble matched strides through quick fractions of :22.05 and :43.97 on the Polytrack. Stacked Deck cruised up on the outside turning for home, and stretched clear. After reaching the five-furlong split in :56.09, the Barbara Minshall trainee widened his advantage to 2 3/4 lengths at the wire. And his final time of 1:08.34 was just .18 off the six-furlong record established by Essence Hit Man on April 17, 2011.
"When I saw him in the paddock, I knew he was on his game," Minshall said. "He's gained weight every race this year. I think he's got stronger every race. He's had a lot of races in the last couple months, but it hasn't taken anything out of him.
"I told him (Contreras) he didn't need the lead, but just don't take him back. Let him get comfortable and see how it sets up. If somebody wanted to go, just let them go. I told him, turning for home, that's when you want to set him down. If he gets in front, he'll be hard to go by."
His nearest pursuers were all longshots. The 27-1 Passion for Action rallied for second, with the 10-1 Goodoldhockeygame in third, and Bye Bye Bernie (10-1) and Copperplate (21-1) dead-heating for fourth. Pacesetter Rexton faded to sixth, and his early foe Paso Doble wound up last.
Calgary Cat, the 3-2 favorite, was far back early and last at the half-mile mark. Although he made modest headway for eighth, he didn’t appear to be striding out with his usual aplomb.
Stacked Deck, a son of First Samurai and 2006 Alcibiades (G2) winner Bel Air Beauty, has compiled a record of 17-7-0-3, $401,577. Victorious in the grassy Charlie Barley in the summer of 2014, he ended that sophomore season with a sixth behind Calgary Cat in the Kennedy Road. But the Kentucky-bred has improved as a four-year-old, as indicated by his outdueling Calgary Cat in the September 13 Bold Venture. He then headed to Keeneland, where he checked in third in the off-the-turf Woodford (G3) and 10th after a troubled start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). At this rate, the gelding could be in for a big 2016.
Photo courtesy of WEG/Michael Burns Photography.