On a day in which typically brings families together, Father's Day at Woodbine Race Course in Toronto saw a horse emerge as a star which would make both of his high profile parents proud.
Eye of the Leopard, who was close to the lead the entire race, needed the entire stretch to catch Mr. Foricos Two U for a hard fought neck victory in the $1,000,000 (Canadian) Queen's Plate for three-year-olds.
"It went pretty well for me," said winning trainer Mark Frostad. "I was worried at the sixteenth pole if we were going to get there but (jockey) Eurico (Da Silva) persevered. He was closing every stride. I was worried the other horse (on the rail) wasn't shortening stride but he just got there."
The race, which is known by some as the Kentucky Derby of Canada, has produced some well known horses in North America over the years including champions Northern Dancer and Awesome Again.
Eye of the Leopard, who is a son of A.P. Indy and 3-year-old Canadian filly champion Eye of the Sphynx, was sent off as the 2-1 favorite off his win in the Plate Trial last month. The colt, who is now a perfect 3-for-3 in his native Canada, has thrived since Frostad added blinkers after his disappointing eighth place finish at Keeneland in April.
Eye of the Leopard is owned and bred by the legendary Sam-Son Farm of Canada which earned its fifth win in this prestigious race.
"He was so professional and relaxed," Da Silva said. "I just rode him the best I could and he dug in and dug in...This means a lot. This is the most important race for Canadians and for me too. Now I am Canadian."
The two fillies in the Queen's Plate also ran great. Milwaukee Appeal and Tasty Temptation ran third and fourth.
Up next in the Canadian Triple Crown is the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie.
"If he comes back well, there's no reason we won't go on with him," Frostad said. "There is still room for improvement."