July 30, 2012

Yearling Sale Grad Awesome Fire wins the Wonder Where

Awesome Fire closed from the back of the pack under Chantal Sutherland to win the $250,400 Wonder Where Stakes for her brother, owner Hugh Sutherland, on Sunday at Woodbine.

The chestnut daughter of Strong Contender-Awesome Lass, bred in Ontario by Spring Farm and trained by Nick Gonzalez, was making her turf debut in the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where, the third race in the Triple Tiara, for three-year-old fillies, foaled in Canada.

Awesome Fire broke poorly and trailed early down the backstretch as Dene Court set splits of :25.03, :49.44 and 1:14.69 with Point of Emminence pressing the pace. Black Bird Rock took over from the front-running duo at the top of the stretch as Lateegra, at odds of 52-1, closed from mid-pack, but was outkicked by a rallying Awesome Fire, who split horses in the stretch to notch a half-length victory.  

Lateegra stayed on for second, a half-length clear of Black Bird Rock.  Awesome Fire covered ten furlongs in 2:04.12 over an E.P Taylor Turf Course rated as 'Firm'.

Sutherland, who guided Awesome Fire to a third-place finish in the Ontario Lassie in December, was impressed with how the filly has matured.

“She was really responsive,” said Sutherland. “When I hit the three-eighths, I really asked her, and she started to run. When I got on her last year, she was a little more nervous. She was really calm today.”

Owner Hugh Sutherland (Urban Fire Corp.) was thrilled with the effort of his sister to relax Awesome Fire after breaking outward at the start.

"She's the real deal," he said. "I thought we were stuck in the gate. I thought it was all over. Chantal pulled it out of her hat again."

Awesome Fire, who competed in all three legs of the Triple Tiara series finishing third in the Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, on June 3, and fourth in the Bison City Stakes on July 1, delighted Gonzalez with her turf debut.

"The filly has come a long way since last fall," said Gonzalez. "She really turned the corner for us. There was a question whether she would take to the turf or not, we knew the distance wouldn’t be a problem.  It all worked out well."

A graduate of the 2011 CTHS Canadian-Bred Yearling Sale, Awesome Fire banked $150,000 for the victory, improving her record to three wins, a second and two thirds in ten career starts.

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