07/30/2011 11:27AM

Assiniboia: Newcomer El Grayling favored

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El Grayling, purchased privately following his last start at Woodbine, has been made the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Monday’s $75,000 Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs.

The Manitoba Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds which attracted a field of nine, is the showpiece of the Assiniboia meeting and will go as the ninth and final race on a holiday card which also includes the $50,000 Assiniboia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and the $25,000 Graduation for 2-year-olds.

El Grayling finished a disappointing fifth when trying a synthetic surface for the first time in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance race at Woodbine.

The Kentucky-bred colt was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Ohio Derby at Thistledown and a return to that distance on a dirt surface should make him hard to handle in his Winnipeg debut.

“He was my last shot to get to the Derby this year,” said Emile Corbel, who trains El Grayling for owner Lana Meier. “I was watching him, and I had an agent contact his owners, but they were on holidays.

“I’ve only had him here for just over two weeks. I’m kind of nursing him along; he’s doing good right now. But I don’t care who he’s run against; he’s got to do it here.”

David Lopez, the leading rider at the meeting, will break El Grayling from post 6.

“He couldn’t have drawn better,” said Corbel. “All the speed’s on his inside.”

Hammers Bullet, Pulgarcito, and Gotatigerbythetail ended less than a length apart as the 1-2-3 finishers in the 1 1/16-mile Harry Jeffrey, the major local prep for the Manitoba Derby.

A Kentucky-bred gelding conditioned by Clay Brinson, Hammers Bullet held on for a half-length, front-running score after finishing third when making his local bow in the six-furlong Golden Boy.

Mark Anderson retains the mount on Hammers Bullet, who drew post 4.

Pulgarcito ran second in the Golden Boy and was traveling beyond six furlongs for the first time in a closing Harry Jeffrey effort.

Tyrone Nelson will be back aboard Pulgarcito, who was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Murray Duncan at Oaklawn Park this spring.

Gotatigerbythetail, conditioned by Ardell Sayler, came from eighth place in the field of nine in a solid Harrry Jeffrey performance.

Rohan Singh, who piloted the Kentucky-bred to a victory over one mile in a first-level optional claimer on June 29, regains the mount.

U R Burnin Daylite, front-running winner of the Golden Boy, figures to be out and winging again here but is a major question mark at the distance.

Ry Eikleberry will be in from Canterbury Downs to ride U R Burnin Daylite, who also is trained by Sayler but runs as a separate betting interest.

Rounding out the field will be O K Indy and Flexiplus, who finished one-two when traveling one mile under first-level allowance terms last time out; Big Blue Caboose, who was a well-beaten sixth in the Harry Jeffrey and then sixth in a $15,000 optional claiming sprint; and Tannat, a maiden winner over one mile in his latest.