Husbands caps season with dominant 19th stakes win
TORONTO, Canada (CMC):
Barbadian Patrick Husbands brought the curtains down on the Woodbine season in style when he produced a gate-to-wire effort with Leavem in Malibu to win the season-ending feature Grade III Valedictory Stakes on Sunday.
Going off at odds of 7-2 in a trip over 1 3/4 miles, veteran Husbands led virtually every step of the way to collar the 12-horse field by 2 1/2 lengths in a time of two minutes, 58.92 seconds.
"I studied the racing form all last night. All the time I saw this horse is a galloper," Husbands said afterwards.
"I went over the form about 300 times. I said, 'You know what, I'm going to let this horse run away and see what these guys are going to do in the first mile.' And they left me the first mile and he was just playing with them."
Husbands sent the four-year-old bay colt straight to the front to set easy splits 51.54 seconds for the half-mile and 1:17.78 for the mile, as rank outsider Ethical Funds, with David Moran aboard, Major Production and Lead by Example, all stalking.
On the backstretch, Ethical Funds ranged up on the outside to take up the running, albeit briefly, as Husbands pushed Leavem in Malibu back to the front.
Coming off the final turn, Ethical Funds was still in strong contention, while Melmich surged on the outside, as Eurico Rosa da Silva roused the favourite.
However, Husbands kicked away impressively with Leavem in Malibu and the colt thundered away under little pressure to hit the wire with energy to spare.
For Husbands, the win was his only one in four rides on the 14-race card and his 127th of the eight-month campaign at Canada's premier racetrack, to finish fourth.
The added-money success was his 19th of the season and carried his final earnings to CAN$5.4 million.
Runaway leader and reigning champion da Silva finished with 203 wins and 34 added-money successes, while Luis Contreras copped 170 wins to be second and Rafael Hernandez, 154 wins to be third.
Husbands is a seven-time former champion at Woodbine.