TORONTO — Safe Conduct returns to Woodbine Racetrack on Sunday, albeit on a different surface and with a different rider.
Safe Conduct captured the $1-million Queen's Plate on Woodbine Racetrack's Tapeta track Aug. 22 with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. On Sunday, Safe Conduct will lead a 12-horse field in the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes turf race with Woodbine's Emma-Jayne Wilson as the rider.
Safe Conduct didn't run in the $400,000 Prince of Wales, the second jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown, at Fort Erie Racetrack on Sept. 14. The 1 3/16-mile dirt race was won by Haddassah.
“We would love, love, love to win the Canadian Triple Crown," Safe Conduct's trainer Phil Serpe said. "But we weighed it out and we thought that we would rather have a fresh horse to run a mile-and-a-half than take a chance running him on the dirt and then he goes backwards and we're not even coming."
Although he hasn't race on Woodbine's E.P. Taylor turf course, Safe Conduct is no stranger to grass. The horse has posted a record of 2-1-0 from four starts on the surface and is 3-1-0 overall from seven career races.
Serpe isn't concerned with having a new jockey aboard.
“We feel confident with her because the whole scenario changes," he said. "What we want now is just a nice, calm ride.
"She knows the turf course up there, it’s her ballpark, so we’re very happy to have her . . . I feel like he’ll get the distance if he gets the right ride."
Wilson won the 2007 Plate with Mike Fox and is looking for her first Breeders’ Stakes victory.
Safe Conduct will face several familiar foes Sunday, including the Kevin Attard-trained trio of Haddassh, Harlan Estate and H C Holiday. All three contested the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Also in the field will be the Riptide Rock, the Plate runner-up trained by Sid Attard.
Hadassah captured the Prince of Wales by a half-length with jockey Gary Boulanger. The bay gelding is 2-0-2 from five lifetime starts.
"He put it all together in the Prince of Wales,” said Kevin Attard. “He has trained well in the interim and breezed very good last week.
"Can we rate his speed going this far will be the $400000 question."
The race field, with post, horse and jockey, includes: 1) British Royalty, Patrick Husbands; 2) Riptide Rock, Justin Stein; 3) Keep Grinding, Rafael Hernandez; 4) Safe Conduct, Wilson; 5) H C Holiday, Luis Contreras; 6) Artie’s Storm, David Moran; 7) Breaking Alone, Shaun Bridgmohan; 8) Haddassah, Boulanger; 9) Collective Force, Steven Bahen; 10) Go Take Charge, Sahin Civaci; 11) Executive Giant, Eswan Flores; and 12) Harlan Estate, Kazushi Kimura.
Harlan Estate was second in the Prince of Wales after finishing seventh in the Plate. The son of Kantharos comes in with two wins and three second-place finishes from 10 career starts.
"He ran really well in the Prince of Wales and should have another good effort in him," Attard said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2021.
The Canadian Press