Sir for Sure’s victory in Sunday’s Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine was all about redemption

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Woodbine jockey Declan Carroll went from being thrown to the ground in the Prince of Wales Stakes on September 13 to tossing garlands through the air after winning the 130th running of the Breeders’ Stakes on Sunday afternoon at the racecourse by Woodbine.

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What a difference a race makes.

The combination of Carroll and Sir for Sure conditioned by Mark Casse finished a very respectable third place on August 21 in the $1 million Queen’s Plate – the first jewel of the Canadian thoroughbred Triple Crown.

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But in the second gem of the classic treble, the $400,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, Carroll shockingly fell Sir for Sure in the first round and the huge gelding posted an unfortunate DNF.

Needless to say, all eyes were on Carroll and Sir for Sure on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine when nine horses lined up for the third jewel of the Triple Crown – the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, an endurance contest of 1 ½ mile on famous EP Taylor Turf Course.

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For Carroll, Casse and owners Heste Sport Inc., the finish was pure redemption. Carroll guided Sir for Sure, who went 6-1, to an impressive 2 1/4 length win after a long, emphatic run, crossing the finish line in 2:28.88. Naturally, there were tears of happiness and relief in Carroll’s eyes afterwards.

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“This is my first season at Woodbine and to do this for Mr. Casse, which has given me so many opportunities, is special,” said Carroll, who was a top runner last year at Arlington Park near from Chicago. “I’m very grateful.”

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Gaston and Duke of Love, who won the Prince of Wales on September 13, battled for the lead until Sir for Sure made a four-man bid at the final corner before heading home for the win.

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“Once I put it in the back it traveled so easily and comfortably,” Carroll said. “A horse of his size and stature, he relished the turf. His father was Sligo Bay (winner on multiple levels) so it was just stunning.

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“On my way home, I said, ‘Come on, boy, it’s 3/8. And he took it from there. He made my job really easy today,” added Carroll. “I was very busy going home. I think I may have gotten home a little earlier than I probably should have, but luckily for me he can run all day and he took to the turf beautifully. Probably one of the easiest horses to ride. He’s very nice. It makes my job easier. »

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Sir for Sure’s victory marked Casse’s third Breeders’ Stakes score, having won the classic event in 2018 with Neepawa and in 2007 with Marchfield. Casse’s mounts finished 1-2 in Sunday’s Breeders’ Stakes as Hall of Dreams ridden by Patrick Husbands finished second. Lac Macaza, coached by Julia Carey, finished third. Dancin in Da’nile was disqualified from fourth to seventh for interference while Gaston dropped from fifth to fourth.

Although Sir for Sure has never run on turf before, the Carroll said he “enjoys” the EP Taylor course.

“He was bred for turf,” the young rider said.

As for what happened at the Prince of Wales last month, Casse told the Toronto Sun last week that no one was to blame. In fact, when asked if he would consider switching Carroll for another jockey in the Breeders’ Stakes, Casse’s response was short and direct.

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“Never,” Woodbine’s lead coach said. “You dance with the one who brought you.”

For his part, Casse went from worrying about the damage Hurricane Ian could inflict on his home and racing stable in Ocala, Florida last week (thankfully there was none), worrying about where on his trophy case he was going to put the Stockbreeder’s Stake Material. Clearly, the Hall of Fame coach also felt huge relief for a number of reasons on Sunday.

Sir for Sure, who won the Plate Trial on July 24, paid $14.80 and won $240,000 in his first victory.

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This year’s Queen’s Plate winner, Moira, the spectacular filly trained by Kevin Attard and owned by X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables and SF Racing, has chosen not to chase the Triple Crown this season. Moira was not entered in either the Prince of Wales or the Breeders’ Stakes. There’s a chance she’ll run in the $750,000 EP Taylor Stakes Grade 1 next Saturday at Woodbine. The last Canadian Triple Crown winner was the Mike Keogh-trained Wando, which was ridden by Husbands and owned by the late Gustav Schickedanz. Carroll said the plan from the start of Sir for Sure was to race in all three stages of the Triple Crown as long as he was healthy and training well.

“He was bred for the turf from top to bottom and today it paid off,” the likeable jock said.

The eight-year-old Prideofdistinction gelding, ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson for trainer Ronald Sadler, won the longest race of the Woodbine encounter earlier on Sunday in the final round of the Woodbine Turf Endurance Series, over 1 3/ 5 miles. Runner-up Meyer, trained by Martin Drexler and ridden by Kazushi Kimura ended up being the series winner.

The Breeders’ Stakes card handle of 111 runs was $7.1 million.

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