07/11/2006 11:00PM

Altered distances for off-the-turf races


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Friday's allowance feature at Woodbine, plus a maiden special race earlier on the card, are both scheduled for 1 3/8 miles on the turf course.

The two races raise an interesting scenario that could surface here over the next seven weeks if weather necessitates taking a race off the grass.

Woodbine's seven-furlong inner Standardbred track, which has been converted for use by the Thoroughbreds while Polytrack is installed in place of the former main track, can accommodate a limited number of distances.

Only four distances - five furlongs, 7 1/2 furlongs, one mile, and 1 1/16 miles - are officially offered.

If the 1 3/8-mile turf races were rained out, they would be run at 1 1/2 miles on the inner track. Turf races carded for 1 1/8 miles or 1 1/4 miles would be run at 1 1/16 miles.

Turf races carded for 6 1/2 furlongs or 7 1/2 furlongs would be switched to 7 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. Six-furlong turf races would be cut back to five furlongs on the inner track.

Meanwhile, both of Friday's 1 3/8-mile turf races attracted full fields of 13, plus three also-eligibles. The expanded 11-race program attracted a total of 126 entrants, including 13 also-eligibles.

Winds of Time has gained confidence

Trainer Josie Carroll's major focus this weekend may be on Fort Erie, where she will send out Queen's Plate winner Edenwold in Sunday's $500,000 Prince of Wales.

But Carroll also will have some important business to conduct here at Woodbine, with Winds of Time slated to run in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly.

The Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, attracted a field of six, including last year's winner, Noble Stella.

Winds of Time, a 4-year-old owned by Bob and Pauline Scott, won her maiden at Newmarket in her lone start at 2 but failed to finish in the top three in seven outings in England last year.

"She came to me in California," said Carroll, who was stabled at Santa Anita for the first time this past winter. "They were hoping to get some black type for her."

Winds of Time raced once at Santa Anita, finishing a closing third at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, before relocating to Woodbine.

"I had to get her confidence up," said Carroll. "So, I ran her first through her first two allowance conditions."

Those two wins came in Winds of Time's only two appearances here. Racing on grass both times, she captured a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on May 28 and a second-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles on June 16.

Carroll initially planned to run back Winds of Time in her next condition, but when that race failed to fill she began eyeing the Dance Smartly.

'Ok Nothanks' switches surfaces

Ok Nothanksforaskn, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred, hasn't set foot on a turf course since finishing fifth in his one-mile debut here last September.

But on Saturday, after establishing himself as a stakes-caliber performer on the main track, Ok Nothanksforaskn is going back to grass for the $150,000 Toronto Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds that attracted eight entrants.

"I'm kind of limited with my options with him," said Lorne Richards, who trains Ok Nothanksforaskn for owner K.K. Sangara. "He can go shorter, against older horses, or longer, with 3-year-olds, and a mile and an eighth might be a little beyond his best. I just haven't got the best out of him yet, to be honest."

Ok Nothanksforaskn began his career with owner/trainer Mark Casse but then was sold privately and has made his six subsequent starts for his current connections.

After closing out his first campaign with back-to-back sprint victories, Ok Nothanksforaskn returned in the six-furlong Woodstock here April 22 and finished a well-beaten fifth in sloppy going.

Ok Nothanksforaskn then tried two turns for the first time in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Marine and finished second, beaten 7 1/4 lengths by Malakoff, who went on to run third in the Queen's Plate and is a leading candidate for the Prince of Wales.

In his most recent outing, which came in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park, Ok Nothanksforaskn again finished second, this time beaten four lengths by the invading Harborage.

"He didn't get much out of his first race," said Richards, "and in the Marine, he got pushed by Bear Character through a fast half. In the Victoria Park he blew a shoe. He veered coming out of the gate, took a couple of funny steps.

"But I'm not saying that's the reason he got beat," Richards said. "He got some decent fractions. All in all, the pace wasn't that fast. He should have finished better than he did."

* Carroll, along with jockey Jim McAleney, will be special guests here Saturday at Jennifer Morrison's one-hour handicapping seminar, which begins at 11 a.m. on the second floor. Topics of discussion will include the Prince of Wales and handicapping races on the inner dirt track.

* Saturday also will be LongRun Day at the Races, with several promotions centering on the LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Woodbine and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association both will donate a portion of their commissions on the Dance Smartly to LongRun, a not-for-profit organization.