Exactly (No. 2 horse) battles with Striders Ring (No. 5) as they run down the backstretch at Evergreen Park during the running of the 88th Alberta Derby on Sunday afternoon. The filly ran the one mile and a sixteenth in a time of 1:44.46., to become the first filly to win the Alberta Derby.
Gordon Anderson / Daily Herald-Tribune
Exactly on point for a historical first.Exactly became the first female to win the Alberta Derby, as the chestnut filly crossed the line in a time of 1:44.46 to win the 88th edition of the Alberta Derby at Evergreen Park on Sunday afternoon.Striders Ring was second while Proud and Loud came third. Grande Prairie Derby winner, The Hybrid, finished third but was dropped to fourth following an inquiry. Its All Good was scratched by the vet. Exactly paid $4.40 to win to run the one mile and a sixteenth race on dirt.“It’s awesome a female can outrun these boys for that kind of money, in this calibre,” Trainer William H. Leech said, full of superlatives. “That’s awesome. That’s amazing. That is an amazing feat in thoroughbred racing for a female to out run the boys.”Exactly’s trainer Elige Bourne couldn’t make the trip to Grande Prairie so he asked Leech to handle the filly. The Lethbridge resident was in town because he had five horses sprinkled throughout the nine-race card on Sunday.Previously, Leech witnessed the three-year olds prowess from a distance at Century Mile in Edmonton but he never got a chance to handle her until the last few days. Leech said the filly was “just a dream to work with.”“This mare is awesome, she cruised around (the track on Sunday),” Leech said. “Honest to God, the way she came back (to the barn), I thought she ran at 85 per cent. She’s that much horse. She wasn’t overly tired. The jockey (Rigo Sarmiento) did an excellent job. He picked his spot and asked her to run and no problem. It looked really good.”Exactly has five total races under her belt this year and has been in the money every time, with three wins and two second-place finishes. Adding the $29,362 purse from the Derby, she’s now earned $60,528 this season so far. Not bad for a horse that cost $2,000 at auction.“A filly really needs to have a big heart and a lot of grit to outrun the boys,” Leech said. “The boys are a little tougher, a little stronger and for a filly to go in against them, especially running a mile and a sixteenth, you have to have a lot of grit and power. It’s a great filly.”Bourne was made available post-race from Edmonton and the former jockey was immediately struck by her presence when he first laid eyes on her.“The first time I watched her work I went, ‘This is a machine,’ and she is,” Bourne said. “Even the races where she ran second she got bad trips that cost her the races. Did she have a clean trip on Sunday? I hoping she did because she hasn’t had one yet.”Exactly ran second at the Sonoma Handicap and finished runner-up in the Chariot Chaser Handicap, both races were run at Century Mile.“She’s a nice filly and I liked her when I started working with her,” Bourne said. “She was miserable to get along with but now she likes the attention she gets. She’s done an about face with her attitude. She got hurt getting shipped (to Grande Prairie) but she overcame that. She’s never had a chance to show her true potential.”Fight in the trailerAs Bourne mentioned, Exactly got into a trailer disagreement with at least one of her stallmates on the way up to Evergreen Park.“She’s a filly with some geldings,” Leech said, perhaps providing part of an explanation. “Maybe, she got horsing a little bit.”Lucky, the dust-up didn’t cost Exactly too much in terms of injuries.“(She) skinned up her knees and her legs a little bit,” Leech added. “When she got here, we had to do a lot of cold water hosing and wrapping legs and hand walking her, just a lot of extra care. Thank god nothing swelled up or was real deep, just ripped the skin and hair off but it could have been terrible.”Good return so farAs previously noted, Exactly has earned $60,528 for owner Alexandre Dion. The filly was purchased in April 2016. The breeder of record was Gary and Marie West Stables, Inc. in Lexington, Ky.“That’s a hell of a return on your money,” Bourne said of the money earned so far by Exactly. “(When it comes to buying horses), a lot of it’s luck. You can spend a lot of money and get nothing. It’s a crapshoot when you buy. (Exactly’s) got a pedigree in her but the stud was unproven and the mare was unproven.”