TORONTO, April 22 - Eugene Melnyk's homebred Roxy Gap was an impressive off-the-pace winner of Sunday's $181,800 Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes, at Woodbine.

Roxy Gap, trained by 2011 Sovereign Award-winning conditioner Mark Casse, broke sharply in the six-furlong 'Poly' sprint but was quickly settled by jockey Patrick Husbands. Honey Chile led the field through a half in :45.11, as Husbands waited patiently from third-position with the Indian Charlie-Harts Gap filly.

When Husbands asked Roxy Gap for her best, she responded with a strong stretch run to get by a determined Honey Chile for a narrow neck win. Atlantic Hurricane, Canada's 2011 Champion Filly Sprinter, finished third. Roxy Gap stopped the clock in 1:09.15.

Melnyk, whose Ottawa Senators are currently embroiled in a spirited playoff series against the New York Rangers, was thrilled with his charge's performance.

"'Roxy' is a very special horse for us," said Melnyk. "Watching her throughout the winter playing in the fields, we knew that if we gave her some time, and some rest, she was going to come back an absolute monster. This is just the beginning of what we hope will be a long campaign for her."

Melnyk is also happy to be back on Canadian soil where his Senators, currently leading their Eastern Conference quarter-final series three games to two, will look to move onto the next round on home ice on Monday.

"You want me to talk about that (playoff hockey) here in Toronto?" joked Melnyk. "We're very proud of them. It's, 'The Little Engine That Could.' They just keep trying and trying and trying. I just came back from New York and it was an absolute war zone down there. To come back to Ottawa, it's going to be like an oasis. We're ready for the Rangers."

Husbands was very impressed with the maturity of the four-year-old Roxy Gap.

"This is a changed horse from last year," he said. "She's really interested in running right now. Before, she was a little bit green.

The veteran rider was confident in Roxy Gap's ability throughout.

"I broke so sharp...she wanted the lead, but I drew the outside and I didn't have any pressure," said Husbands. "I just bided my time and when I asked her, she gave me a 110 (per cent)."

Roxy Gap returned $6.70, $3.80 and $2.70, combining with Honey Chile ($7.60, $3.70) for a $51.70 exactor. Atlantic Hurricane ($2.40) rounded out a triactor worth $136.30. A $1 superfecta (Kitty in a Tizzy) returned $537.25.