Rick Kennedy's Fiesty Icon defeated the reigning king of Ajax Downs, Country Boy 123 in a thrilling renewal of the prestigious Alex Picov Memorial Championship on Thanksgiving Monday. The Ontario-bred 8-year-old and jockey Tony Phillips stuck his head out at the finish of the 440-yard race to defeat Country Boy 123, who had won the race the past three seasons.
As a 16 to 1 longshot, Fiesty Icon broke well from post eight and led a wave of horses that charged down the outside of the track. Country Boy 123 and jockey Ed Walton had a step-slow start from the gate but quickly joined the filly Shes Sizzling in mid-stretch to get into contention before Fiesty Icon roared past him just before the finish. Country Boy 123 was second by a head over Countrys Comin Bac who finished third but was later disqualified and placed fourth for late interference to Spy for the Senate.
The time for the 440 yards was a sharp 21.745 for a 104 speed index. Fiesty Icon paid $35.60 to win.
Fittingly, Fiesty Icon was bred by the Picov Cattle Company and he is a son of Ontario sire Sugarman Perry.
"I decided to enter him [in the Championship] after his last race, the Ontario Bred Maturity," said Kennedy, who raises and trains horses with wife Karen on his farm in Mount Albert, ON. "He was second that day but I liked the way he came out of that race. He usually tells me when he is ready to run; I guess he was right."
Kennedy purchased Fiesty Icon as a yearling from the Picov family and the gelding has had an illustrious career. In fact, Fiesty Icon was the Ajax Downs' Horse of the Year as a 3-year-old in 2015 and in recent years had been ruling the Ontario Bred older horse ranks.
"He's a fabulous horse, he always goes out and gives us his all when he runs," said Kennedy. "After the race another owner, James Bogar, said to me, 'You must be on cloud nine'. I said it was 10."
The Championship was the 20th career win in 49 races for Fiesty Icon, who boosted his career earnings to over $355,000.
The presentation of the Championship trophy to the Kennedys, Phillips and Fiesty Icon was made by CKDO Durham radio's popular morning man Terry Johnson, who also did the post race interview with Phillips (see video here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpqqWLhyjIg&t=53s
**Two Time Trials for the upcoming Ontario Sired Derby were also held Monday. JESS CAROLINAS AWARD, owned and bred by Guelph's Ricki Crispi and trained by Tom Dunlap won the first Trial in a time of 18.108 for 350 yards, an 84 speed index. Ramiro Casillo was the winning rider. Chantelle Bourgeios' SHAKEN won the second Trial in 18.113, also an 84 speed index, with jockey Cassandra Jeschke The top 10 finalists compete in the final on Oct. 26.
**There are two Mondays left on the 2020 Ajax Downs calendar and there are stakes races on both days.
First race post time is 12:55 p.m. While the track remains closed to fans, you can watch all of the action and place your bets through HPIBet.com and watch the races on the Ajax Downs website, ajaxdowns.com
Keep up to date on news from the track on Twitter and Instagram, @ajaxdowns, and on the track's Facebook page.
Photo by Laurie Overton
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