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Just what do you do for an encore now? It seems every time Infinite Patience runs you keep thinking well, that’s the best race I’ve ever seen her run. And then, as she did on Derby Day last Saturday at Century Mile, she comes up with another even better absolute jaw-dropping, mind-boggling performance.
“Just when you think you’ve seen the best of Infinite Patience she finds another level,” said her trainer Barbara Heads after the five-year-old mare took the $100,000 Northlands Distaff in a track record time of 1:33.65 winning by a gaping seven lengths. “But this win in Edmonton was the best.”
For now anyway. Because as we were saying Infinite Patience, who has now won 13 of her 18 career starts, keeps writing a story better than the one before.
“Wow,” said Infinite Patience’s jockey Antonio Reyes. “Just wow.” Quite simply it was brilliant. Allowing long shot Sheltered Bay to take the lead through a quarter in 23.08, Reyes and Infinite Patience moved up under a snug hold to take the lead for good after a half mile in 46.09.
And that was that. Looking under his shoulder a couple of times Reyes never even asked Infinite Patience. She just strutted away and disappeared down the long stretch.
By comparison the previous track record for a mile was 1:34.39 - almost a full second slower. And, the Century Mile Handicap for the best aged horses in western Canada - won by her stablemate At Attention - and also run on Derby Day was timed in 1:34.63 - a full second slower.
There simply doesn’t appear to be any limits. “It was definitely fun to watch,” said Heads. “Antonio certainly didn’t over ride her by any means.”
That’s for sure. If challenged at any point it would have been interesting to see just how fast Infinite Patience is. “She was just so impressive. And she does it looking like she’s not putting much effort into it,” said Heads, who admitted to being nervous before the race even though Infinite Patience was bet down to 25 cents on the dollar and paid just $2.50 to win.
“I’m always nervous. Always on edge. “You’re hoping everything goes right and that the horses have a safe trip and come back well. Everything else is a bonus.”
Heads said there is more pressure when you send out a big favourite like Infinite Patience. “Absolutely. Because she is so good. It’s a lot less nerve wracking when you’re 50-1. Then anything good is a surprise.”
Co-owned by Edmonton Oiler forward Ryan Nugent Hopkins and breeder William DeCoursey, Infinite Patience has now won eight races in a row. With no end in sight. Her next two starts are scheduled to be the Delta Colleen back at her home Hastings Park track on Sept. 10 and then the $100,000 Ballerina, also at Hastings at the beginning of October.
After that who knows. “I don’t like to go too far past each race,” said Heads. “Not just with her but with any horse.”
Voted B.C.’s Horse of the Year as a two-year-old when she won all five of her starts and getting the same accolades when she had five wins and a second in seven outings last year, Infinite Patience was also named Alberta’s champion aged mare last year when she won all three of her races at Century Mile.
“She’s not a big filly. She’s solidly built but she isn’t big. But she’s so athletic. It never ceases to amaze me what horses can do. And she’s also very smart. She’s always ahead of the game. She knows exactly what is going on.”
Two years ago Infinite Patience was sent to Toronto’s Woodbine race course. But she failed to fire. “I really don’t think she liked the synthetic surface,” said Heads. “I don’t think it was a lack of talent or whether or not she belonged.
“Her mother was the same way,” Heads said of Montero. “I took her to Golden Gate in California and I couldn’t get her to work over the synthetic surface there either. She was not comfortable whatsoever. And she was a nice mare too. A multiple stakes winner. When Montero came home, back to B.C. she won four races in a row."
Not Infinite Patience, however. In her return from Woodbine she finished seventh in her seasonal debut last year. Then she finished second. But after that it’s been all wins.
“It was a lot of work getting her back mentally and getting her confidence back. But obviously she’s doing really well now,” said Heads, who grew up in horse racing with both her father, Robert ‘Cy’ Anderson, her mother, June Anderson, and her brother, Rob, who ran third in last week’s Canadian Derby with Regal Riot, all very successful trainers.
“Infinite Patience’s Woodbine experience wasn’t the best but maybe if she got to train over it longer maybe that would change. I never want to take that off the table. There or anywhere else,” said Heads, got started training horses in 1983.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have had some very nice horses over the years,” she said of B.C. Derby winners Halo Steven and Majesticality; Touching Promise, who won almost $400,000, Sunburst, who won five times, was second five times and third once in just 11 career starts, and Solidarity, who ran third in the Northlands Distaff.
“But this mare, Infinite Patience, is pretty special. Definitely the best I’ve ever had.”
As for At Attention, who won the Century Mile Handicap against a classy field of aged horses, Head said “Before the race I would have been happy just to hit the board.
“I was going over the Racing Form with my husband the morning of the race and I kept saying there are sure a lot of nice horses in this race.”
Despite having only three horses behind him at the head of the lane, At Attention proved to be one of those ‘nice’ horses. Winning his third race in four starts this year and still being sent off at 7-1 because of the depth of the field, At Attention stormed down the stretch to win a three-horse photo over Chase the Sun and Uncharacteristic, last year’s Derby winner. Favoured Soy Tapatio, who had traffic problems down the stretch, finished fourth.
“At Attention ran very impressively,” said Heads. “And he got a very good ride from Antonio. I’m lucky to get to use him. He rides the majority of my horses. He took advantage of that long stretch run. There was a wall of horses turning for home and we got lucky to get out and go around all that. He’s an off-the-pace horse and the long stretch run at Century Mile definitely helped.”
STOCK REPORT - As well as the aforementioned Century Mile Handicap and the Northlands Distaff there was another $100,000 race on Saturday’s stacked Derby Day card: the Century Casino Oaks which was won by 7-1 Tone It Up by a neck over U Did It. The victory was a nice way to finish the card for trainer Dave Nicholson.
“It had been a pretty rough day up until then,” said Nicholson. “I had four horses in on Derby Day. The first one, Fast Landing, flipped in the starting gate and had to be scratched. The second one, Outlawed in Texas, was third going into the turn and got shuffled back to last. The third, Theshack stumbled.” And then along came Tone It Up.
“Things got turned around in a hurry then,” said Nicholson after a great ride by Rafael Zenteno Jr., who trailed the field most of the way, found running room on the inside and then stormed up along the rail to edge out U Dit It by a neck. “All-star ride,” said Nicholson. “He squeezed through traffic and then timed it right.”
Owned by the Friends of Ed Racing Stable the victory was worth $60,000 for Tone It Up, who was claimed for just $12,500 this spring at Arkansas’ Oaklawn Park.
The next stakes action is the big Fall Classic Day September 10. An Alberta version of the Breeders’ Cup there are seven $50,000 stakes for Alberta-breds.
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