Preakness Stakes-winning trainer Mark Casse completed a sweep of the Victoria Day long weekend stakes at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday as Souper Tapit prevailed in a photo finish to win the Grade 2, $175,000 Eclipse Stakes.
With Patrick Husbands aboard, Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Souper Tapit defeated his determined rival Mr Ritz in a head bob at the end of an exciting stretch duel in the 1-1/16 mile feature.
Breaking from the inside post position, Mr Ritz sprinted through along the rail to establish the lead ahead of early leaver Decorated Soldier into the first turn. He clocked an opening quarter in :24.11 and continued on to the half in :47.39 and three-quarters in 1:10.75 while shaking off Decorated Soldier and a stalking Third Day for a two-length lead turning for home.
However, 9-5 favorite Souper Tapit was ready to roll from his inside stalking position and launched his attack at the top of the lane. Mr Ritz put up a fight to the finish, but Souper Tapit eventually nosed him out for the win as they crossed the wire in an impressive time of 1:42.39.
“He gave me everything he wanted to give me and the other horse [kept
going to] the wire and I just got lucky getting there first,” said Husbands.
“The race set up how I wanted it to set up because in the morning my horse is so aggressive. This is the first time I rode him in a race and I knew I could be on the lead and then he came out and he was so relaxed I was like, this is not the same horse. But I got a perfect trip and, at the bottom of the lane, I thought we had him for sure, but it was a dogfight down the lane.”
The victory was the eighth of the meet for Husbands since his comeback and second stakes title after combining with the Casse-trained Speedy Soul in last weekend’s Fury.
“For Mark backing me my whole career here in Canada, I want to tell him thanks,” added the veteran jockey.
Souper Tapit returned $5.90 to win and combined with 3-1 shot Mr Ritz for a $23.80 exacta. Three-time Eclipse champion Are You Kidding Me finished a game third, 1-1/2 lengths behind, while Avie’s Mesa came on for fourth. Third Day and Decorated Soldier completed the order of finish.
The 5-year-old chestnut son of Tapit out of Zo Impressive, who won his only other Woodbine start in the 2017 Grade 3 Marine over the same course and distance, has earned five victories lifetime and more than $420,000 in purses under Casse’s tutelage.
Casse also celebrated stakes wins this weekend in Woodbine’s Grade 3 Selene on Saturday and the Queenston on Sunday. A 10-time Trainer of the Year in Canada, Casse currently has 17 wins to top the leaderboard at the 2019 meet, which began on April 20.