A key race on the calendar for Canadian-bred two-year-olds, the 1 1/8-mile main track event has drawn six starters, including Up With the Birds, who comes into the race off a strong maiden-breaking performance on September 29 and His Race to Win, fourth in the Cup & Saucer Stakes (turf) on October 20.
The end result was a 3 ½-length score under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, an effort that had conditioner Malcolm Pierce beaming.
“He’s definitely a nice colt,” praised Pierce. “Now we’ll just have to see if he can take that next step forward and win this one. He’s certainly improving in every aspect and he’s coming into the race just how we’d want him to be.”
His Race to Win, who has finished second, third and fourth from three starts, broke inward at the start of the 1 1/16-mile Cup & Saucer, which was contested over ‘yielding’ ground.
“Eurico said he didn’t enjoy the ground that day,” offered Pierce. “I was a little disappointed because I felt we could have at least been second in that race. Still, I’m happy with the way he’s developing and it’s nice to be in the position to have two good-looking, talented colts in your barn.”
Although Pierce, who has 55 career stakes wins, has never won the Coronation Futurity, Sam-Son has taken five editions of the race.
Dauphin Fabuleux won in 1984. One year later, Grey Classic was victorious. Sam-Son co-owned 1987 winner Regal Classic with Windfields. Three years later, Rainbows For Life took top honours. Their most recent success came courtesy of Dixieland Diamond in 1999.
“It would be nice to get one,” admitted Pierce. “At this point, I’d say Up With the Birds is a step ahead, but that said, it’s early in both their careers. They are both continuing to learn and even though it’s early to think about, we’ll hope they are at their best when the Queen’s Plate comes around next year. The only thing about this race is that it hasn’t been to kind to the winners when it comes to Plate success.”
The last horse to win the Coronation Futurity and then the Plate was Norcliffe, who achieved the feat in 1975-76. He also holds the stakes record time, since the race was contested at 1 1/8 miles, of 1:49.20.
Inaugurated in 1902 at Toronto's Old Woodbine Racetrack, the race has been won by some notable names, including Northern Dancer in 1963, who would go on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, as well as the Queen's Plate. Sunny's Halo won the 1982 edition and then took the Kentucky Derby the following year.
Also on tap Saturday, the Grade 2, $150,000 Autumn Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile event that marks the return of last year’s Coronation Futurity champion, Maritimer.
FIELD FOR THE CORONATION FUTURITY
Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer
1 / His Race to Win / Alex Solis / Malcolm Pierce
2 / Hesa Big Dude / Melanie Pinto / Justin Nixon
3 / Bookies Nightmare / Davy Moran / Carolyn Costigan
4 / Kitten Candy / Luis Contreras / Robert Tiller
5 / Star Contender / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
6 / Up With the Birds / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Malcolm Pierce