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Attfield seeks eigth Breeders' with promising maiden Area Limits
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Roger Attfield will be at Monmouth Park on Sunday, sending out Palladio in the $1 million Haskell Invitational and Noble Stella in the $150,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker.
But Attfield's attention also will be wandering back to Woodbine, where his assistant, Rachel Halden, will saddle Area Limits for the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes.
Attfield has won the Breeders' seven times, most recently with Sweetest Thing in 2001. And while Area Limits remains a maiden after eight starts, Attfield believes he has the proper credentials for the 1 1/2-mile turf race, the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Area Limits recorded one third-place finish from three starts at 2, that coming in the Cup and Saucer Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf.
After Area Limits opened up his current campaign with a couple of indifferent main-track efforts, Attfield abandoned the Queen's Plate trail with thoughts of running in the Breeders'.
"I always thought it was the right way to go, once I gave up on the dirt idea," said Attfield.
Back on the Woodbine turf course, Area Limits recorded back-to-back second-place finishes in maiden specials, the first at 1 1/16 miles and the second at 1 1/4 miles.
In his last start, Area Limits finished third as the only Canadian-bred in the five-horse field for the Toronto Cup, and was moved up to second via a disqualification in that 1 1/8-mile turf race.
"There were one or two races he easily could have won," said Attfield. "He's always running strongly at the end, and in the Toronto Cup, when he was bothered he was just getting into stride at that time.
"He's gradually getting better and better, and I think the distance will be advantageous to him."
Noble Stella works three furlongs
Noble Stella, winner of the Grade 3 Dance Smartly at 1 1/8 miles on turf in her last start here July 16, blew out three furlongs in 35.60 seconds on the fast training track Thursday.
"I hadn't done anything with her for a little bit," said Attfield.
Emile Ramsammy, who rode Noble Stella for the first time in the Dance Smartly, has the call at Monmouth.
Richard Dos Ramos, Palladio's regular rider, will be seeking his second straight major success with the colt after winning the Grade 2 Ohio Derby on July 2.
Woodbine does not generally offer simulcast wagering from Monmouth Park on Sundays but will be carrying the entire Haskell Day program.
South Bay Cove trains for comeback
South Bay Cove, a double stakes winner and runner-up in the Sovereign Award balloting for her division at 2, breezed five furlongs in 59 seconds on the training track Thursday.
Trained by Attfield and owned and bred by Bill Graham, South Bay Cove was sidelined with a hairline fracture of a cannon bone late last summer after winning the six-furlong Ontario Debutante in her fourth start on Aug. 22.
Sent to Florida for the winter, South Bay Cove was expected to be a force in her division again this year.
"I was one work away from running her here in the spring," said Attfield. "But she had a problem with her back. It was all not very clear, exactly what it was, but we had to get it right."
South Bay Cove wound up spending three months on Graham's farm before returning to Attfield's barn this summer.
"She's training like a rocket right now," said Attfield. "I'm hoping to make the Duchess with her [on Aug. 13], but she might be a couple of works short."
Gold Strike to skip Duchess
The Grade 3, $150,000 Duchess, a seven-furlong race here, was expected to feature a rubber match between Gold Strike and Lemon Maid.
But Gold Strike, who had defeated Lemon Maid here in the 1 1/16-mile Selene after finishing second to that rival in the six-furlong Star Shoot, will be sending her regrets.
"I'm going to give her another break, and point her for the La Lorgnette," said trainer Reade Baker, referring to the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies here Sept. 24. "This track's hard on her, and I was getting her ready to go seven furlongs; that's the other horse's game. I want to run her a mile and a sixteenth - that's the perfect distance."
Gold Strike followed up her Selene score with a victory in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks on June 12 and came back two weeks later to finish third in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate.
Wannatalkaboutme injured, will be sold
Wannatalkaboutme, who would have been the odds-on choice here in Saturday's Nandi Stakes, suffered a career-ending injury last week and has been entered in the Keeneland November breeding sale.
"She fractured her ankle in an inoperable place," said trainer Nick Gonzalez. "Things just didn't look good, even for next year."
Wannatalkaboutme, a 2-year-old filly by Bold Executive out of the Regal Search mare Regal Right, was undefeated in three starts and earned $230,100.
After winning her maiden for $40,000 at 4 1/2 furlongs, Wannatalkaboutme captured the open My Dear at five furlongs and the Shady Well for Ontario foals at 5 1/2 furlongs.
The Nandi, for Ontario-sired fillies, actually represented another step down in class.
"We're disappointed, obviously," said Gonzalez. "It was going to be her last race for a while, but it didn't materialize.
"But, it could have been worse," he said. "She always had a bit of an ankle; it could have happened earlier."
Belle Geste fails to fill
The Belle Geste, an overnight stakes for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares that would have been the supporting feature Saturday, was canceled after attracting just five entrants.
The Belle Geste, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, was the third overnight stakes to be scrapped this season and the second for fillies and mares.
The Afleet, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds scheduled for May 29, and the Belle Mahone, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares here July 23, also failed to attract enough entrants to satisfy management.
* Woodbine television host and handicapper Jim Bannon will hold the latest in a series of free one-hour teaching seminars here Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. on the second floor of the grandstand. Bannon's guest will be trainer Scott Fairlie.