11/12/2009 1:00AM

Awesome Rhythm to meet elders in Autumn

Michael Burns
Awesome Rhythm will face older horses for the first time in the Autumn.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Awesome Rhythm was the first star of the 3-year-old division when the races stretched out here this spring, winning three consecutive stakes around two turns.

On Saturday, Awesome Rhythm will be looking to wind up his campaign on a high note when he faces older rivals for the first time in the $150,000 Autumn at 1 1/16 miles.

"He'll have to step it up; he'll have his work cut out for him," said John Ross, who trains Awesome Rhythm for owner Domenic Triumbari. "This is like a Breeders' Cup race for the local horses."

Awesome Rhythm had won the Wando and Marine at 1 1/16 miles and the Victoria Park at 1 1/8 miles before tasting defeat for the first time at the meeting in the Toronto Cup over 1 1/8 miles of turf.

The Kentucky-bred then journeyed to Mountaineer Park for the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, where he was beaten a total of 6 1/4 lengths over 1 1/8 miles.

"He finished fourth to some nice horses," Ross said.

Eight weeks later, Awesome Rhythm resurfaced here in the 1 1/8-mile Ontario Derby and again finished fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths.

"He just didn't get the kind of trip he liked," said Ross, who then turned his sights toward the Autumn but elected to skip the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep here Oct. 23.

"I wanted to give him a little space," Ross said. "It's nice to have a fresh horse this time of year."

Awesome Rhythm had his major work for the Autumn on Nov. 5, going seven furlongs in 1:26.60 under regular rider Jim McAleney.

On Thursday morning, the colt blew out three furlongs in 37.80 seconds.

Awesome Rhythm is scheduled to be among the dozen horses who will winter with Ross at Payson Park.

That number also will include Stylish Citizen, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old who captured the off-the-turf Charlie Barley here in June.

Costalivin, another 3-year-old who became a stakes winner for Ross when taking the restricted Deputy Minister at seven furlongs here July 15, is scheduled to wind up his campaign Dec. 2 in the $125,000 Sir Barton for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up. Costalivin finished a disappointing sixth last Saturday when competing under second-level allowance terms at the Sir Barton's 1 1/16-mile distance.

"He was coming off his best race ever," said Ross, who had sent out Costalivin to run second behind the Ontario Derby's third-place finisher Tutti Buona Gente three weeks earlier. "It was just one of those days."

Attitude Included triumphs

Attitude Included gave jockey Corey Fraser his first stakes win of the meeting when capturing Wednesday night's $125,000 South Ocean for trainer Mark Casse.

Fraser, who had won Fort Erie's $500,000 Prince of Wales with the trained Gallant, established a clear lead through a moderate pace with Attitude Included in the 1 1/16-mile South Ocean and prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over four other Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.

Attitude Included was making her sixth start in the South Ocean and stretching out following a close third-place finish in the six-furlong Fanfreluche.

"All the time she was running, I was thinking that this was what she wanted to do," said Casse, who also owns Attitude Included under the Quintessential Racing banner in partnership with his wife, Tina. "I'd been anxious to try her around two turns."

Attitude Included, who now will be put away for the season and will join Casse on the farm in Florida, was the stable's eighth stakes winner of the meeting.

But there will be plenty of opportunity to add to that total as Casse will be represented in the three stakes here this weekend, beginning with Pool Play in the Autumn.

Pool Play, an Ontario-bred 4-year-old, has elevated his game sharply this fall and will be seeking his third straight win in the Autumn.

After clearing his first allowance condition at 1 1/8 miles while starting for the first time in almost five months here Aug. 29, Pool Play made a successful stakes debut Oct. 4 in the Grade 3 Durham Cup at the same distance.

"I think he's on the borderline of being a really good horse," Casse said. "He ran such a big race last time. Now, he needs to do it a couple more times in a row."

Patrick Husbands retains the mount on Pool Play.

On Sunday, Casse will have entrants in both ends of the meeting's final stakes doubleheader, with Retraceable set for the Jammed Lovely and Wildcat Aly for the Glorious Song.

The Jammed Lovely, for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies, and the Glorious Song, an open race for 2-year-old fillies, are both seven-furlong races and offer purses of $150,000.

Retraceable is coming into the Jammed Lovely off a rallying third-place finish in the 6 1/2-furlong Ruling Angel.

"I think seven furlongs should be perfect for her," Casse said. "Her last race was quite good, and she's come back and breezed good."

Wildcat Aly, a Florida-bred, will be making her fourth career start and is coming off a fourth-place finish in a first-level allowance at the Glorious Song distance.

"I thought her race was pretty good," Casse said. "She drew the 1-hole and had a really bad trip. I expect her to run well."

Fraser will ride both Retraceable and Wildcat Aly.

Witch's Coven cuts back

Witch's Coven, a Kentucky-bred who is owned by Firestone Farm and trained by David Bell, is cutting back in distance for the Glorious Song after running third in the 1 1/16-mile Mazarine here last time out.

The Mazarine, a Grade 3 race, was won by Biofuel, who came back to finish an unlucky fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Bay to Bay, coming off a win in the Grade 3 Natalma over one mile of turf, ended second there, with Witch's Coven beaten a total of 6 1/4 lengths in the field of eight.

"Seven furlongs might be a little too short for her, but she always finishes real strong," Bell said.

Witch's Coven breezed five furlongs in 1:01 while going in company here last Sunday.

Chantal Sutherland, who guided Witch's Coven to a third-place finish in her debut, returns following a five-race hiatus.