There are times when the unexpected victories are the most treasured ones.
Everyone connected to the maiden 2-year-old filly felt she would step up in a big way in her first stakes appearance, a race that carried a $250,000 purse and showcased several standout rookies.
Whether the bay Ontario-bred known as Inudation could take all the spoils in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes was somewhat of a question mark.
As it would turn out, she had an emphatic answer.
Facing off against eight rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race over the Woodbine main track, Inudation, with Leo Salles aboard, came into the race without a win on her resume.
Sent off at 12-1, the pair got away an unhurried eighth and stalked the pace from along the inside.
Sounds Practical and 4-5 choice Olivia Rose were one-two through an opening quarter in 24:37 and continued their tete-a-tete through a half in :48.10, as Inudation began to make headway, moving into sixth position.
As the field entered the turn for home, a hard-charging War Painter arrived on the scene, took the lead in early stretch and looked to be well on her way to victory.
Inudation’s owners, father and son Al and Bill Ulwelling, tuning in from their home in Minnesota, watched as their filly put in a spirited rail-skimming rally.
What were they thinking as they watched it all unfold?
“That’s an interesting question, but I guess what came to my mind was, she was full of run, but I thought War Painter was home free,” said Al Ulwelling. “I was hoping for second with a furlong to go. We really liked her last race (second in a 1 1/16-mile race on November 4 at Woodbine) and thought she would close well. She really dug in for a young horse.”
Kevin Attard, trainer of Inudation and War Painter, thought the latter was home free.
Both the Ulwellings and the multiple graded stakes-winning conditioner were in for a surprise ending.
Inudation struck front with less than 100 yards to go and then fended off War Painter to win by a head in a time of 1:45.33.
“I’m lucky, everything worked out good,” said Salles. “The first turn, I had a good trip. I could save a lot of ground and gain positions. In the turn, everyone was making moves I think a little early and I just started taking gaps and gaps. Last time I finished second with her, I really liked this filly, and she had the best preparation. I came in very confident to this race.”
Attard was understandably thrilled at the effort of Inudation.
“She was obviously a maiden coming in here today, but she’s a filly that has shown talent from the get-go. We were always high on her and gradually stretched her out. I thought her two-turn race last time was impressive enough to warrant a chance here today. Eighth of a mile to go, I thought War Painter was free, but this filly just dug in and she was flying up the inside.”
The daughter of Collected-Tidal Surge paid $26.60 for the victory.
An unexpected triumph, but very much a rewarding one for the connections of the horse bred by Anderson Farms Ont. Inc., who was a $67,000 USD purchase at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.
“Dave Anderson loved her and so did his people on the farm, then she went to Ocala and Barry Eismann liked her, then when she got to Kev he liked her, so we had to figure if they all liked her, we were in good company,” said Al Ulwelling. “She most reminds us of a horse we had called Merveilleux. She was a great athlete and so is she.”
Now 1-2-0 from four starts, Inudation has stamped herself as an early contender for next year’s $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, the first jewel in the Canadian Triple Tiara Series for 3-year-old Canadian-foaled fillies.
“I think the most that she has reminded of us, so far, is a really nice filly, who is maturing at the end of her 2-year-old season,” said Al Ulwelling. “She had some rough trips and has acted like a good horse since we have owned her. I think it was just a matter of her putting it together with a lot of speed in that race.”
Inudation will soon head to the Bluegrass State where she will enjoy a well-deserved rest.
After that, she will continue her path to the prestigious Woodbine Oaks.
“She will go to Bill Snowden in Lexington, get a nice break and head to get legged-up in a short time. Then it’s back to Kevin to try to win the biggest races in Canada for 3-year-old horses.”
Which, based on her most recent performance, might not yield surprising results.
But that would be just fine for everyone associated with the never-say-quit Inudation, including Al Ulwelling.
“She’s been a blessing.”