There used to be a time when the mention of Jamie Spencer raised more than a few eyebrows and produced more than a few smirks on this side of the Atlantic. The jockey had enough less-than-stellar rides aboard Aidan O'Brien's stock during his tenure as Coolmore's go-to rider to earn a sort of notoriety in America. But those bad memories may be receding.
Last month, Spencer piloted Cape Blanco to victory in the Arlington Million, and he found the winner's circle on Sunday at Woodbine, getting Wigmore Hall to the finish line first in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf. Irish-bred Wigmore Hall had last raced in the Arlington Million with another jockey in the saddle, but prospered from a well-timed ride by Spencer that found him racing in midpack early in this 12-furlong grass event, and rallying in time to score by a neck. Wigmore Hall paid $4.90 to win.
Spencer was less successful in the Woodbine Mile, in which he partnered Dance and Dance, another that was foaled in Ireland. Spencer's mount reared when the stall doors opened and he spotted the field several lengths. Then, they couldn't find clear sailing through the tightly packed 12-horse field upon straightening for home and checked in sixth, beaten less than two lengths for the win at 8-1.
Jimmy Fortune did little better in the same race, getting fourth place aboard Side Glance in his only mount of the day.
Woodbine also featured a pair of 2-year-old grass stakes on Saturday and Coolmore made hay in the Summer Stakes with their American-based Finale, the winner by just under a length. This Todd Pletcher-trained son of Scat Daddy went to Woodbine off a victory in the Continental Mile at Monmouth Park and is now perfect in three races on the lawn after debuting with third- and fourth-place finishes on the Belmont Park main track. Finale, ridden by John Velazquez, paid $3.70 to win.
Darren Glennon and Mike Doyle also came up winners at Woodbine during the week. Glennon cracked with a first-time starter, Ronald House and Rainbow End Racing Stable's Aheadofthebest, in Wednesday's seventh race, a 5-furlong maiden special weight affair for fillies and mares. Aheadofthebest led all the way and reached the wire in front by three-quarters of a length with Na Somsanith in the irons. The win price came back $25.50.
Doyle got his win in Saturday's third race, a maiden special weight route at a mile and 70 yards, in which he sent out Windhaven's Harlan's Panther with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard. Doyle had taken a chance by running the 2-year-old filly for a tag in her June debut, and she was claimed for $50,000 off her fourth-place finish by trainer Reade Baker. Two races later, Baker had her back in for $40,000 and Doyle filled out a claim slip to take her back. She ran second in that race, two weeks ago, and was almost a length the best on Saturday after rallying under Wilson. Harlan's Panther paid $10.10 to win.