HORSE RACING-Nicholls lands maiden Woodbine stakes success for Burke (includes quotes)

TORONTO, Canada, CMC – Barbadian jockey Keveh Nicholls won his first-ever added-money race at Woodbine when he produced an upset aboard 6-1 choice Rockcrest to win Sunday’s CAN$100 000 Pink Floyd Stakes.

In a six-furlong sprint for the four-year-olds and upward, Nicholls made all the running with the six-year-old gelding to reach the wire two lengths clear of favorite Candy Overload, posting a time of one minute, 09.68 seconds.

Last American Exit, a 52-1 longshot, rallied for third.

“Once he left there running, he got the lead easy,” Nicholls said.

“There was no one around to pressure. He was relaxed, and I was smiling from there.”

Rockcrest, owned and trained by Barbados-born Nigel Burke, burst from the gates to set the pace, laying down fractions of 23.46 seconds for the quarter and 45.53 for the half, but under pressure from 9-2 chance Ms. Speedy.

Mason’s Gamble and Last American Exit disputed third while Candy Overload remained off the pace.

Rockcrest entered the stretch nearly two lengths clear of his challengers and produced a turn of speed to put the result beyond doubt.

“The feeling is indescribable because he makes me feel like I could compete with the big boys being from a small operation,” said Burke, who has worked in Trinidad and Jamaica.

“As you saw, he puts his heart out on the table all the time, and that’s all I could ask of him. I did promise that if I ever made it across again to this green horseshoe, I would thank Dylan Dunn, his exercise rider, who has done a tremendous job with him.

“His groom, Brian, too. You couldn’t ask for a better team behind him. It’s a team thing.”

Fresh from stakes double on Saturday, legend Patrick Husbands was again among the money, winning the $117 000 optional claiming in race seven over six furlongs with favorite Super Dormy.