Code Warrior successfully defended her title in the $125,000 Hendrie Stakes, winning the 68th running of the Grade 3 stakes event for older fillies and mares in front-end fashion on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
Luis Contreras sent the five-year-old Society’s Chairman-Lady Natalie mare gate-to-wire in the 6-1/2 furlong graded stakes for trainer Mike De Paulo and Zilli Racing Stables.
Code Warrior set fractions of :23.77 and :47 with 5-2 favourite Let It Ride Mom tracking throughout and fully extended in the race to the finish, coming within three-quarters of a length of the defending champion at the wire in 1:16.75. Let It Ride Mom, winner of the Grade 3 Whimsical last time out in her season’s debut, was followed under the wire again by Moonlit Promise, who raced behind the leader, with recent Ballade Stakes champion Scotty’s Model securing fourth-place in a photo finish.
“I was very comfortable, she feels great on the lead,” said Contreras of his winning trip. “Mike told me in the paddock just to get her to relax. She doesn’t need to be on the lead, but if nobody wants the lead and I feel comfortable then just take it from there.
“I was a little bit surprised there wasn’t a little more pressure, but I’m so happy right now.”
Code Warrior, who won last year’s Hendrie when trained by Rachel Halden, was purchased by new owner Robert Marzilli for $190,000 at Keeneland last November for her likeness to another Society’s Chairman star, 2016 Horse of the Year Caren, and for her future broodmare potential. She was originally sold by Shannondoe Farm as a short yearling at the 2014 Keeneland January sale.
The Florida-bred mare was successful debuting for her new connections in Gulfstream Park’s Abundantia Stakes over five furlongs of turf in January, but had an off day finishing sixth there in the Ladies’ Turf Sprint. Returning to action in May at Woodbine for the six-furlong Ballade, she finished second to Scotty’s Model after racing on the front end.
“She might have been a work short for her last race, but that certainly tightened her up for today,” said De Paulo. “I was hoping Luis wasn’t listening to my instructions. We went to the lead last time and I thought if we could sit a little off it that might be perfect, but when I saw the fractions, I said, ‘Attaboy Luis, go on with it!”
Code Warrior has finished off the board only twice in 19 outings, with six victories and career earnings of $344,358.
-edited from http://www.woodbineentertainment.com, photo by Michael Burns