Preview Racing

Norman Picov Maturity, Battle of the Breeds Headline May 15 at Ajax Downs
The incomparable Had To Be Ivory seeks his fifth Norman Picov Maturity Stakes when he returns to action on May 15 at Ajax Downs.

Norman Picov Maturity, Battle of the Breeds Headline May 15 at Ajax Downs

AJAX, ONT–MAY 13, 2024–Two-time Horse of the Year HAD TO BE IVORY will make his 9-year-old debut in the 11th running of the Norman Picov Maturity at Ajax Downs on Wednesday, May 15, the second day of the 2024 season.

The eight-race card kicks off with the Battle Of The Breeds, a 770-yard dash around a turn, matching Thoroughbreds against Quarter Horses. Post-time for the Battle of the Breeds, the first race, is 1:30 p.m. The Maturity goes as race eight.

Nine top older horses will take on Had to Be Ivory in the 300-yard Maturity worth $ 30,000 added. The remarkable Ontario bred, owned and bred by Carol and Jaime Robertson, and trained by Bryn Robertson, has won the Picov Maturity four times in his illustrious career, including the 2023 and 2022 editions. A 25-time career winner from 33 races, Had to Be Ivory won both of his Ajax Downs starts in 2023 before going on the road to Indiana. He won a $34,000 overnight stakes race at Horseshoe Indianapolis racetrack in August and was a troubled fifth in the $111,000 Indiana Championship in his season finale.

Josh Scott rides Had to Be Ivory on Wednesday from post position seven.

Newly turned 4-year-old Sour Candy, one of last season's top sophomores, will meet Had to Be Ivory for the first time. Trained by Lauren Spada for owners Rick Crispi and Craig Spada, Sour Candy won five of eight races last year, including the Picov Derby. He starts from post 10 under Alexis Sanchez.

First Cold Wave, the 2021 Horse of the Year, was second to Had to Be Ivory in last year's Maturity and later won the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity. The 5-year-old, trained by Jason Pascoe for Robert Bailey, will be ridden by 2023 champion jockey Brian Bell. Pascoe, Ajax Downs' perennial leading trainer, also sends out Spy For The Senate, the tough 8-year-old who won his 2024 season debut at the Sandy Ridge meeting at the Red Mile in Kentucky in late March. JB Botello rides.

**Alysha Robillard's speedy Thoroughbred Summer Retreat will try to win the Battle of the Breeds on Wednesday over three Quarter Horses and one other Thoroughbred. Trained by Julie Mathes, the leading trainer at Fort Erie for the last four consecutive years, Summer Retreat is an 11-time winner in his career.

"He's fit, said Mathes. "He was with me in West Virginia at a training center this winter, and he's been working great."

While the short 770-yard distance is an unknown for the Ontario-bred Summer Retreat, Mathes is excited to participate in the Battle of the Breeds. "We figured we would go for it; it's fun."

The Quarter Horses hold a 1-0 advantage in the Battle of the Breeds as Azures Royalty won the first BOTB race last October, and he will be heavily backed to keep his streak alive. Owned by Magen Finnessey and trained by Brooke Sisson, the grey Quarter Horse will be ridden by Neil Husbands. Completing the field are Quarter Horses Jess a Deal and Tdz Barton Grand and Thoroughbred Seattle Point.

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