Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Sir Dudley Digges surprised bettors in Sunday’s Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racecourse, giving the owners, jockey Julien Leparoux, and trainer Michael Maker all their first victory in the first jewel of the Canadian triple crown at odds of 15-1. The $ 1 million race, exclusively for Canadian-foaled sophomores, was held over 1 1/4 miles on the Tapeta, which the son of Gio Ponti completed in 2:04.09, defeating Amis Gizmo by a half-length.
“I knew we had a shot, but that was the trip we needed,” said Leparoux immediately following the race. He had ridden the colt and won on him before over the grass at Keeneland in his maiden-breaking effort in April.
As expected, the speedy Shakhimat and Emma-Jayne Wilson set out for the early lead, but the 13-horse field was tightly packed in behind him in the first half of the race, leaving several colts with very little room to move between runners. Shakhimat held a one-length advantage over Cheburashka after the first quarter-mile, which he covered in a solid :24.19. Race favorite Amis Gizmo was never more than four lengths off the pace, while Sir Dudley Digges was trapped between horses but moving comfortably from fourth or fifth position.
Shakhimat continued to lead through a half-mile in :49.92 and three-quarters in 1:14.72, but entering the final turn, he was confronted by Amis Gizmo, winner of the Plate Trial. Amis Gizmo got a half-length in front mid-way through the turn, but Shakhimat valiantly battled back, regaining nearly even terms entering the stretch with a quarter-mile to run. Esposito was just a half-length behind those two, and Sir Dudley Digges was making up ground from fourth.
Amis Gizmo looked an easy winner with three-sixteenths to go, as he held a one-length advantage, but Leparou and Sir Dudley Digges had finally found running room and were making up ground quickly down the center of the track. A bit green, and changing leads several times, Sir Dudley Digges nonetheless was able to make the lead just in time, crossing the wire about a half-length in front of Amis Gizmo. All on Red closed strongly from between horses to be third, while Scholar Athlete was fourth. Shakhimat was able to hold on to finish fifth.
“We’re going for the Triple Crown,” exclaimed a jubilant Ken Ramsey after the race. “We think this horse can run on glass, polytrack, you name it.”
Bred in Ontario by Bernard and Karen McCormack, the Ramseys purchased Sir Dudley Digges for $ 130,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ 2-year-old in training sale last year. It took the colt seven tries to break his maiden, but he was finally able to do so with Leparoux aboard at Keeneland in April. After finishing third in the Plate Trial behind Amis Gizmo and Shakhimat, Sir Dudley Digges turned the tables on those two to earn his first stakes victory. His overall record is two wins from nine starts, with earnings of $ 677,000.
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