08/16/2005 11:00PM

Attard runner has top rider for grass race


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The meeting's leading jockey, apprentice Emma Wilson, will ride J N J's Executive for the meeting's leading trainer, Sid Attard, in Friday's Woodbine feature, a seven-furlong, first-level allowance on the grass.

After finishing far back in a pair of turf routes last summer, J N J's Executive ran in the lower maiden ranks in the fall. He placed in several $16,000 maiden claiming races on the main track this spring, then won with ease while switching surfaces in a seven-furlong maiden special June 10.

J N J's Executive showed that his handy maiden score wasn't a fluke on July 2, when he led throughout a $40,000 claimer for nonwinners of two while earning his second straight 83 Beyer Speed Figure on the turf. Three horses came back to win from that seven-furlong race - runner-up Slew the Dragon captured a fast allowance; the fourth-place finisher, St Regs, took a $40,000 conditioned claimer; and the eighth-place runner, Lundzman, toppled $20,000 rivals.

Attard said he believes part of the reason for J N J's Executive's poor 2004 grass form was that he ran on ground that was on the giving side.

"He likes hard turf," Attard said.

Attard has won at a phenomenal 36 percent clip with 31-to-60-day layoff runners since the beginning of 2004. Through last Sunday, he was 8 for 31 at the meeting when using Wilson.

El Habanero capped his 2004 campaign in August with a victory in an Ontario-sired allowance, then was idle until he posted a fourth-place finish in a seven-furlong allowance June 11. He finished second as the heavy favorite in a similar race July 6.

Second-leading rider Corey Fraser retains the mount on El Habanero, who is trained by Canadian Hall of Famer Mac Benson.

Royal Slam made quite a splash in his first turf attempt Aug. 1, when he captured a six-furlong maiden special after battling on the lead. He placed in each of his three previous outings at three different venues.

Royal Slam may give J N J's Executive a tussle on the front end, if jockey Ray Sabourin employs an aggressive approach. His trainer, Norm McKnight, has clicked at a 19 percent rate with repeaters over the past year and a half.

Archers Alyancer has been rested since finishing third over yielding turf against 3-year-olds in the June 15 Bold Ruckus, a stakes that has yielded five next-out winners.