09/13/2006 11:00PM

Ad Valorem is dangerous if the turf is firm


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ad Valorem made his first trip to North America last fall, finishing sixth in Keeneland's Shadwell Turf Mile and then ninth in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont.

Now Ad Valorem, who checked in late Wednesday morning, will try his luck north of the border in the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile.

"He shipped in well," said Pat Keating, traveling head lad for Ad Valorem's trainer, Aidan O'Brien. "He's in good form."

Ad Valorem, a 4-year-old owned by Susan Magnier and Bob Ingham, became a Group 1 stakes winner in Newmarket's six-furlong Middle Park over good going in 2004 and notched his second Grade 1 score in the one-mile Queen Anne at Ascot over good-to-fast turf this June 20.

In his only subsequent start, which came on soft turf in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 13, Ad Valorem was beaten 4 1/4 lengths as the fifth-place finisher in a field of 10.

"He won well in the Queen Anne," said Keating. "He ran okay in France; the ground was a bit soft for him."

Locally based Patrick Husbands will ride Ad Valorem for the first time on Sunday, and he met with Keating and Ad Valorem's visiting exercise rider, John Frain, here Thursday and was given a compact disc detailing the colt's previous races.

While Ad Valorem will be the first Woodbine Mile starter for O'Brien, the trainer has been represented in the last four Canadian Internationals.

Ballingarry won the Canadian International for O'Brien in 2002, with Brian Boru third in both the 2003 and 2004 editions and Yeats running sixth last year.

This year's running of the Canadian International, a Grade 1, $2 million turf race over 1 1/2 miles, will go on Oct. 22.

Rare pair of entries from McAnally

To say that California-based trainer Ron McAnally has been an infrequent visitor to Woodbine would be an understatement.

McAnally's last appearance here came in 1996, when Woodbine hosted the 13th annual Breeders' Cup. He sent out Dunbar Hill, who finished 11th in the Juvenile Fillies, and Different, who finished third in the Distaff.

While McAnally will not be here in the flesh this Sunday, he will be represented by Sweet Return in the Woodbine Mile and L.A. Boy in the Summer Stakes, a Grade 3, $200,000 turf race for 2-year-olds at one mile.

Sweet Return and L.A. Boy both arrived at Woodbine on Wednesday night and will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, who won Woodbine Miles for trainer Neil Drysdale with Labeeb in 1998 and Touch of the Blues in 2003.

The 6-year-old Sweet Return is owned by Red Oak Stable, the nom du course of Florida's prominent racing personage John Brunetti.

After winning 1 of 5 starts in England as a 2-year-old, Sweet Return came west to McAnally in the winter of 2003 and became a Grade 1 winner in the Hollywood Derby, a 1 1/4-mile grass race.

Sweet Return has added four more stakes victories since then, including back-to-back Grade 1 scores in Hollywood's Charlie Whittingham and Del Mar's Eddie Read in June and July 1995.

Although he is winless in seven starts since then, Sweet Return comes into the Woodbine Mile off two recent respectable performances against Aragorn, the top turf miler in the United States.

On July 23, Sweet Return finished second to Aragorn in the Eddie Read, beaten four lengths. In his next and most recent outing, Sweet Return finished fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Aragorn in the one-mile Del Mar Breeders' Cup.

Sweet Return is the leading money winner in this year's Woodbine Mile field with a bankroll of $1,639,731.

L.A. Boy, also owned by Red Oak Stable, is a maiden after two starts.

After finishing last of nine in his debut at 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar on July 22, L.A. Boy stretched out to a mile on the turf there Aug. 23 and rallied from last in the field of 10 to end third, beaten just a neck.

L.A. Boy will be one of nine entrants in the Summer, which also includes English invader Streets Ahead, the Belmont-based Marcavelly, and the filly Dreaming of Anna, from Chicago.

Ambitious Cat faces 3-year-olds in Canadian

Sunday's 11-race card also includes the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian Handicap for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The Canadian has drawn a field of just six but looms a very competitive race featuring Ambitious Cat, a 5-year-old who was last year's Sovereign Award-winning turf female, and the talented 3-year-olds Arravale and Almerita.

Arravale, based here at Woodbine, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in her latest while Almerita arrived last week from Germany, where she was a Group 1 winner two starts back.