Manitoba horses have big weekend ahead


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This article was published 11/7/2019 (303 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two classy lasses from Russell are running this weekend. They’re smart and scary fast. One is heavily favoured, the other is 5-1. Both play hard to catch.

Established Manitoba-bred amazon Escape Clause takes on eight rivals in the US$750,000 Delaware Handicap-G2, which goes as the eighth race at Delaware Park on Saturday afternoon. Budding local star Hidden Grace takes on either five rivals in tonight’s $30,000 Jack Hardy Stakes or six rivals in Saturday evening’s restricted $30,000 R.C. Anderson Stakes, both at Assiniboia Downs.

The three-year-old filly Hidden Grace will race either tonight or Saturday and is a perfect 4-for-4 so far.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The three-year-old filly Hidden Grace will race either tonight or Saturday and is a perfect 4-for-4 so far.

Hidden Grace is allowed to enter the Jack Hardy and the R.C. Anderson because they are both stakes, but she will only run in one of the races. Which one was undecided at the time of this writing, but she will be fearsome and favoured no matter where she shows up, as she stretches out for the first time in her career. The R.C. Anderson is a mile and the Jack Hardy is seven furlongs.

“She’s ready,” said trainer Mike Nault, who also said the same of Escape Clause. Nault, who took over the training of Hidden Grace from Don Schnell when that trainer went on the road with Escape Clause, said Schnell reported that Escape Clause was working well and had gained back valuable weight since finishing fourth in the Ogden Phipps Stakes-G1 at Belmont Park on June 8.

Escape Clause is listed as the third choice at 5-1 on the morning line for the 1¼-mile Delaware Handicap. Defending champion Elate, whom Escape Clause defeated in the Apple Blossom Handicap-G1 at Oaklawn Park in April, has been listed as the 7-5 favourite on the morning line and Blue Prize is listed as second choice at 7-2. Elate comes into the race off a victory in the Fleur de Lis Handicap-G2 at Churchill Downs. Blue Prize finished second in the same race.

Escape Clause is already the leading money earner of all time among Manitoba-breds with US$691,500 on her card, but the US$400,000 winner’s share of the purse in the Delaware Handicap would put her over US$1 million, which would be astonishing for a $5,000 yearling that was purchased at the local sale. The five-year-old mare by Going Commando-Danger Pay by Circulating has already proven herself in elite company, but there is zero room for error in Grade 1 races. If you’re having an off day, forget it.

The same can’t be said for Hidden Grace, who should be able to lead either of the fields she faces this weekend on a merry chase. You never know what a horse will do when they stretch out for the first time, but the sharp move Hidden Grace made on the turn in her last race to demoralize her opposition was a bit of a shocker — until we met her.

The lanky three-year-old filly by Going Commando-High Pioneer by Pioneering will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Escape Clause. Those are awful big shoes to fill, but she’s a perfect 4-for-4 so far and she’s a full sister to local stakes winners Paint My Ride and Jet Again, the latter of whom was one of the favourites for the 2014 Manitoba Derby.

Early in her career, Escape Clause won both of the races Hidden Grace is entered in this weekend. Escape Clause was allowed to develop and dominate locally before making her trek to the big time, and Hidden Grace is following a similar path. A less-patient ownership team might have given in to the temptation of shipping Escape Clause into the shark tank before she was ready, but they waited, and look what happened. The waters will get progressively deeper for Escape Clause as the Breeders’ Cup approaches, but she’s already a poster child for the value of patience in the horse business.

Escape Clause was bred in Manitoba by Cam Ziprick and Arnason Farms and is owned by trainer Schnell and his partners Barry Arnason and True North. Hidden Grace was bred in Manitoba by Cam Ziprick, Barry Arnason and Charlie Fouillard, who are also her owners. Ziprick and Barry Arnason had a hand in both breedings, and Arnason was excited to be hauling Escape Clause’s full sister to Taylor Made Farms in Kentucky next week to be prepped for a big Fasig-Tipton yearling sale this fall.

Ziprick, meanwhile, is prepping 15 yearlings at home in Russell for the local CTHS Manitoba Yearling Sale on Aug. 11, including Hip #35, a full sister to Hidden Grace. There are 41 yearlings in the 2019 sale, and the performances of Escape Clause and Hidden Grace are expected to heighten interest in the annual dance and prance.



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