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Touch'n Ride wins Breeders' Stakes thriller

Touch’n Ride Touch’n Ride

Touch’n Ride, under Kazushi Kimura, wore down a game rival in Elysian Field and then survived a rider’s claim of foul to win the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the final jewel in the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, Sunday at Woodbine.

It was the duo of slight 3-1 choice Paramount Prince, winner of the first jewel, The King’s Plate, in August, and newcomer to the series, 75-1 Hemlo Gold, who led their 12 rivals into the first turn on a summer-like day at the Toronto oval. They were followed by Kaukokaipuu, fifteenth in the Plate, and second in the Prince of Wales (the second jewel in the series), with Midnight in Malibu fourth. Touch’n Ride, fifth in the Plate, sat in fifth.

Hemlo Gold was head in front after an opening quarter in :23.71 over a “firm” E.P. Taylor turf, shadowed by Paramount Prince, with Midnight in Malibu and Kaukokaipuu third and fourth, respectively.

The lead duo continued their up-front tussle that saw Paramount Prince a half-length on top through a half in :48.75. Kimura had Touch’n Ride well within range of the leaders, still comfortably positioned in fifth after a mile. Paramount Prince and Hemlo Gold were still on top heading into the final turn, but the cavalry charge was coming, including Woodbine Oaks victress and Plate runner-up Elysian Field, who was full of run to the outside, and a surging Touch’n Ride.

It then set the stage for a lengthy battle down the long E.P. Taylor stretch, as Elysian Field and Touch’n Ride broke away from their pursuers, neither horse giving an inch, as they drifted to the far outside mid-way down the lane.

At the wire, Touch’n Ride, a Chiefswood Stable homebred trained by Layne Giliforte, eked out a nose victory. Elysian Field was four lengths ahead of Twowaycrossing, at 51-1, for second. Philip My Dear was fourth. The final time for the 1 ½ miles was 2:27.56.

Tito’s Calling, Wickenheiser, Kaukokaipuu, British Artillery, Tiburon, Sammy Stone, Simcoe, Hemlo Gold, Paramount Prince and Midnight in Malibu rounded out the order of finish.

Sahin Civaci, aboard Elysian Field, launched a claim of foul against Kimura and Touch’n Ride, but it was disallowed by the stewards.

“It feels amazing,” said Kimura, who notched his first win in the series. “I’ve always tried to win the Triple Crown and I’ve finally made it. Last week, I got on him in the morning and he was a very nice horse on the turf. I was quite comfortable staying behind Paramount Prince, the King’s Plate winner.”

Giliforte, who has over 900 career training wins to his name, found a way to ride out the unfolding drama.

“It’s nerve-racking when you watch a horse get herded out like that,” he said. “The biggest worry is that the horse is going to slip up inside the field. If it impeded your trip, you can claim foul and reverse the order, but if a horse slips up the inside and you have nothing to do with it, it can take the win from you. Nerve-racking to watch.”

But also deeply rewarding.

“I’m getting choked up over it,” said Giliforte. “I had a great feeling going into the race and for him to come through the way he did and Kazushi to give him the ride that he did, it’s fantastic.”

With the Breeders’ victory, Touch’n Ride, a son of Candy Ride (ARG)-Niigon’s Touch, is now 2-0-1 from four starts. Chiefswood won the 2018 edition with Neepawa.

The bay gelding, third choice on the tote board, paid $10.20 for the win.