Johnny Bear nails Hawkbill in Northern Dancer Turf
September 16, 2017
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Johnny Bear ($20.20) nailed favored Hawkbill on the wire to win the Grade 1, $340,800 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes on Saturday at Woodbine.
Hawkbill went right to the lead out of the gate and set reserved fractions, while Johnny Bear sat in a stalking position along the hedge under jockey Luis Contreras. As the field turned for home, Hawkbill continued to lead, but Johnny Bear angled off the rail and began to make up ground with every stride. Johnny Bear went by right at the wire and won by a neck over Hawkbill, while Messi finished third after encountering traffic trouble at the top of the stretch. The final time was 2:27.30 for 1 1/2 miles on firm turf.
“In the gate, I was thinking just stay behind the eight horse as long as I can and wait for the end to make my move,” Contreras said. “It worked out perfect.”
Johnny Bear, the $275,000 sale-topper at the 2012 CTHS yearling sale, banked $216,000 for the victory and brought his career record to 7 wins from 33 starts for owners Colebrook Farms and Bear Stables. Trainer Ashlee Brnjas won the first graded stakes race of her career.
“We fought hard for this horse because when we got him as a yearling, he was a nice horse but he was the human equivalent of a marshmallow,” Brnjas said. “It took a long time for him develop. We stuck it out and it was the right decision.”
Photo by Emily Shields
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