By Mary LaRue BloodHorse
Gretzky the Great earned his first black-type victory Aug. 23, taking the CA$112,600 (US$85,450) Soaring Free Stakes for 2-year-olds, a prep for the upcoming Summer Stakes (G1T), in his third start at Woodbine. The race also marked a milestone for his sire, giving Nyquist his first black-type winner.
The juvenile colt, trained by Mark Casse for owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber, sat just off the pace set by Into the Sunrise, who completed a half-mile in :45.51. Heading into the stretch, Gretzky the Great was two lengths behind but quickly closed the gap when asked by last year’s outstanding apprentice jockey, Kazushi Kimura.
Gretzky the Great drove home to complete the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.83 on firm turf. Into the Sunrise missed by a neck, and the other three juveniles who made up the field were never in contention. The even-money favorite, Ready to Repeat, finished third, 1 1/4 lengths back.
Bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms, Gretzky the Great is the second named foal out of the stakes-placed Bernardini mare Pearl Turn. The breeder sent the colt through the sales ring at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Yearlings Sale last year, but he went unsold on a final bid of $295,000.
The colt, who has only raced at Woodbine, was second in his July 12 debut but returned Aug. 2 to take a six-furlong maiden race by 4 1/4 lengths on the all-weather track.
“I was so satisfied the last time, and today that was the best performance of his life,” Kimura said.
Freshman sire Nyquist, famous for winning the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 2 and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) the following year while undefeated in his first eight career starts, has two other winners to date. The 7-year-old son of Uncle Mo stands at Darley in Kentucky for a fee of $40,000.