By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
Hidden Grace is no longer undefeated, but Miss Imperial remains unbeaten at Assiniboia Downs.
On Wednesday night at ASD, Miss Imperial outraced Hidden Grace to the finish in what was, essentially, a match race down the home stretch to claim the 44th running of the $25,000 Canada Day Stakes for older mares.
It was the third Stakes victory of the year for Miss Imperial and the first loss in the short, but incredible career of Hidden Grace.
“Miss Imperial ran a good race,” said 79-year-old Murray Duncan, the man training both Hidden Grace and Miss Imperial. “Hidden Grace is a really nice horse too, but she just ran out of gas at the end. But it was a good race and both horses did well.”
Heading into Wednesday night’s Canada Day Stakes, Hidden Grace had never lost. She’d had nine stakes races during her career, eight at Assiniboia Downs, and starting with the Debutante Stakes at ASD on August 3, 2018 and ending with the CTHS Sales Stakes at Century Downs on October 10, 2019, she had vanquished all of her foes.
However, this was her debut run of 2020 and it came in a gruelling 7 ½-furlong battle in 28-degree C heat against the best mare on the ASD grounds this summer. In fact, it was Hidden Grace’s first race since October 10, 2019 and down the stretch, in a one-on-one battle with the favourite, she just didn’t have enough.
Miss Imperial, on the other hand, had already won the $18,000 Go Go Lolo Overnight Stakes back on Opening Night as well as the $25,000 LaVerendrye Stakes three weeks ago. Overall, in 2020, Miss Imperial has won six races and earned almost $110,000 for Duncan, her owner/trainer. Her career record has improved to nine wins, three seconds and three thirds in 19 starts. Her career earnings are now $313,000.
On Wednesday night, she duelled between horses down the backstretch and then shook the pace mare Quietly Quick by the midway point of the race. She turned back her only rival, Hidden Grace, at mid-stretch and held well. Hidden Grace was a comfortable fourth until the midway point of the race and then made a big move into the final turn. She fell behind in mid-stretch and gave her best to the wire, but didn’t have enough to grab the lead as Miss Imperial won by a length.
Miss Imperial paid $3.10, $2.10 and $2.10 while Hidden Grace paid $2.40 and $2.10. I’mabarnkat paid $2.20 to show.
Miss Imperial is a Kentucky-bred, owned by Murray Duncan and the estate of Garylle B. Stewart, trained by Murray Duncan and ridden by Stanley Chadee Jr. She was claimed by Duncan on April 11 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., brought to Manitoba and is now unbeaten in three starts at ASD.
Hidden Grace was bred by Cam Ziprick, Barry Arnason and Charles Fouillard at Ziprick Thoroughbreds in Russell, MB; owned by Barry Arnason, Cam Ziprick and Charles Fouillard; trained by Murray Duncan and ridden by leading jockey Antonio Whitehall, Hidden Grace now has career earnings of $138,440. Hidden Grace now has nine wins and a second-place finish in 10 career starts.
There is little doubt these two will meet again before the 2020 season is concluded.