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Bred and owned by Chiefswood Stable, Yorkton, who is enjoying a fruitful 2018 campaign, goes after his second added-money title of the season, this time in Saturday's Grade 2, $175,000 Kennedy Road Stakes, at Woodbine Racetrack.
Yorkton is undoubtedly at the top of his game these days.
The four-year-old Speightstown-Sunday Affair bay won the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes on September 15 and followed it up with a solid second-place finish in the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes, which was also contested at the Toronto oval, on October 13.
In six starts this season, Yorkton, who finished sixth in last year's running of the Kennedy Road, has a pair of wins and two seconds. After a fifth to launch his campaign, he's finished no worse than fourth.
Race 8 on Woodbine's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:42 PM
|1||Ikerrin Road (IRE)||5-1||Ademar Santos
|3||Holding Gold||6-1||Jerome Lermyte
|4||Boreal Spirit||20-1||Kirk Johnson
|6||Call Me Wally||15-1||Alan Garcia
|7||Hemp Hemp Hurray||3-1||Eurico Da Silva
|9||Brass Compass||20-1||Emma-Jayne Wilson
Trainer Stuart Simon is full of praise for his Ontario-bred charge.
"He comes to play every time," said the trainer who finds himself just eight wins shy of 800 for his career. "He doesn't really need the lead... he's just fast. He can do it on either surface and he's won from six furlongs to a mile."
A win in this weekend's six-furlong main track feature would be the fifth stakes score for Yorkton, who won the 2017 editions of the Queenston, Charlie Barley and King Corrie, to go along with the Bold Venture triumph.
Did Simon envision this type of year from the lifetime winner of six races from 19 starts?
"I did. He's always been a talented horse and it's kind of a maturity and progression thing with him. He started out okay in the year, but he kept maturing and developing. We always knew he was a really talented horse. He had that solid year at three when he won those three stakes."
Simon points to a runner-up performance as a key turning point for Yorkton.
"When he ran second to (2017 Canadian Horse of the Year and multiple stakes champion) Pink Lloyd in the (Grade 3) Vigil, he ran a really good race that day," he noted. "He just continued to thrive out of that race and I was pretty confident that when I ran him back in the Bold Venture, he was going to run the type of race he did. He validated it that day."
With 10 overall top-three finishes, in races that have come on both the Tapeta and E.P. Taylor Turf Course and at varying distances, versatility and consistency are two words that Simon often uses in describing Yorkton.
"He's coming to the race well. We didn't want to run in the prep and squeeze the races in. He's had some good breezes in between and he's ready to go."
With cooler temperatures hitting the Greater Toronto Area over the past week, Simon isn't worried about the drop in the mercury when it comes to Yorkton.
Environment Canada is currently calling for a high of 5 degrees Celsius on Saturday, with a 60 per cent chance of showers.
"He's one of them that probably thrives in it," said Simon.
Pink Lloyd won last year's edition, delivering trainer Robert Tiller his record fourth Kennedy Road title. Stacked Deck (2015, 2016) and Blitzer (1994, 1995) have both won the race twice. Jockey Todd Kabel won four straight runnings, from 1994-97.
First post on Saturday's 11-race card at Woodbine is 1 p.m. The Kennedy Road, slated as Race 8, is set for 4:42 p.m.
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