Woodbine: Rookies In The Spotlight For Saturday’s Grey, Mazarine

Hal, a son of Accelerate-Purely a Dream, goes for his third win in as many starts in the Grade 3, $150,000 Grey Stakes, part of a Saturday Woodbine card that also features the Grade 3, $150,000 Mazarine Stakes.

Trained by Darwin Banach, Hal arrives at the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race for 2-year-olds off a strong debut on Oct. 2, and an equally impressive encore in the Display Stakes on Nov. 5.

“He’s doing really, really well,” said Banach. “For some reason, it’s amazing when they know they’ve won a stakes race. They seem to grow up, mature and get the hang of it.”

In his career bow, under Justin Stein, the chestnut gelding, at 13-1, was four lengths on top at the stretch call in the 7-furlong main track allowance race, crossing the wire 1 ¼ lengths on top in a time of 1:23.69.

Owned by Suzi Shoemaker and First Corp. Thoroughbreds (who co-bred with Lantern Hill Farm LLC), Hal followed up that performance with a stellar showing in his first stakes test.

Sent on his way at 2-1, Hal duelled down the lane with Ticker Tape Home, and earned a hard-fought half-length victory in a time of 1:22.00.

Stein praised the poise and perseverance of the chestnut.

Banach, who has 315 career wins, continues to marvel at the maturity of his young star in the morning and afternoon.

“I think the one thing that stands out is how easy it is to train him. It just makes everything so easy. You don’t have to worry about anything with a horse like this. His last win, he had to dig down, and he wanted to win that race. I think that filly [Ticker Tape Home] could have kicked on if he didn’t decide, ‘This is going to be my race.’ I saw that desire of wanting to win down the lane, and to me that was the most impressive part. That was a $625,000 Mark Casse purchase we were up against. You don’t go walking by them by accident.”

Hal, who worked 5 furlongs in 1:03.80, breezing, over the Tapeta on November 19, is in good order heading into the Grey.

“He’s doing great. The work, it was just a little maintenance thing. He didn’t go very fast, but we just protected him a little bit. Justin came back and said, ‘I just have so much horse all the time.’ He’s very happy about it. He said it’s all systems go, and we’re in the same mind mode. And this horse, he’s a character for sure. He spends most of his time in bed. Eating mints and sleeping are his two loves in life.

“These kinds of horses make us,” continued Banach. “They make our careers, they make us what we are. He’s that kind of horse. I would say [trainer] Phil England made me into the trainer I am today, but a lot of the horses I’ve been able to be around, had the opportunity to work with, like [multiple graded stakes star Sky Conqueror] and those types, experiencing those moments make you the trainer you are and the person you become. Hopefully, it just keeps evolving. Having a horse like Hal certainly give you plenty of reason for optimism.”

Other starters include Bluebirds Over, an impressive debut winner for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Bred and owned by Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson, the son of English Channel romped to an eight-length score over a mile and 70 yards on the Gulfstream synthetic on November 5.

Sent off at 5-1, Bluebirds Over stopped the teletimer in 1:42.71.

“It was a very nice effort,” praised Joseph. “He had trained well on the dirt leading up to the race. Obviously, he’s got turf in him being an English Channel, so Tapeta was the closest thing we could get. But he ran well. He’s a horse that won as visually pleasing as a horse could win. It’s going to be tough going second time out against these horses, but we’re going to give him a try.”

Last year, God of Love, a chestnut son of Cupid, won the Grey.

The Mazarine has attracted Honor D Lady, a dark bay daughter of Honor Code.

After two pleasing results at Gulfstream, including a maiden-breaking score last time out, Honor D Lady will test out the Toronto oval in her third career start.

Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr. for Final Furlong Farm, the dark bay romped to a 7 ½-length victory on the Hallandale synthetic on October 7, crossing the wire in 1:43.76 in the 1 1/16-mile affair.

One race earlier, in her career debut, Honor D Lady was second, 14 ½ lengths behind winner Infinite Diamond in a one-mile trek over the Gulfstream dirt.

“The first race we ran her on the dirt because she had trained okay, but we were always trying to get her on the turf or the Tapeta,” said Joseph. “We were following her half-brother [Churchtown] who has run well on the Tapeta and grass at Woodbine. That was one of the reasons for trying the Tapeta, to get her around two turns. We think she’s a two-turn filly where distance is going to be the key with her. We thought going into the second race that she had a good chance to win, and she exceeded our expectations a bit. She quickened up nicely and we considered Woodbine right after that.”

Bred in Kentucky by William Harrigan and Mike Pietrangelo, Honor D Lady worked 3 furlongs, breezing, in :37.80 over the Woodbine Tapeta on November 21.

“It’s a Grade 3 race, but it makes a lot of sense. She vanned up to Toronto, and we wanted her to have plenty of time in advance to give her a blowout a few days before the race.”

Honor D Lady has seemed to take well to her new surroundings.

“She’s been fine. She’s been eating well, which you want to see when they ship. So far, so good. The one thing with her is that she is feisty. You have to be careful because she will kick you. If you don’t pay attention and you go in her stall, she will kick you. Even going around the shedrow, you better make sure you are aware of where she is. She will look to kick you. She’s very feisty in that way, but on the track she is all business.”

Edgard Zayas will be in the irons on Saturday.

Mrs. Barbara, a dark bay daughter of Bodemeister, took the 2021 running of the Mazarine.

First post for the 11-race card is 1:20 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action through HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.

FIELD FOR THE GRADE 3 GREY STAKES

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Mo Tourist – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard

2 – Renegade Rebel – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse

3 – One Bay Hemingway – Jose Campos – Sid Attard

4 – Bluebirds Over – Edgard Zayas – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

5 – Hal – Justin Stein – Darwin Banach

6 – Forever Dixie – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

7 – Ryder Ryder Ryder – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

FIELD FOR THE GRADE 3 MAZARINE STAKES

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Collect Dattt – Leo Salles – Kevin Attard

2 – Forever Dixie – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

3 – Renegade Rebel – Rafael Hernandez – Mark Casse

4 – State of Mind – Luis Contreras – Josie Carroll

5 – Peacock Lass – Justin Stein – Rodolphe Brisset

6 – Honor D Lady – Edgard Zayas – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

7 – Ryder Ryder Ryder – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

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