08/31/2008 11:00PM

Backup saves Attfield's day


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Roger Attfield's Sunday afternoon did not begin auspiciously as he was forced to scratch Not Bourbon, the probable odds-on favorite, from the Vice Regent Stakes at Woodbine.

But all's well that ends well, and Attfield still got to celebrate when Sand Cove, his "other" entrant, reported home a half-length in front for his first stakes victory in the $125,400 Vice Regent.

Sand Cove, a colt owned by Ralph Johnson, was making his turf debut in the one-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

"Sometimes things just work out," said Attfield. "He'd worked okay on the turf, and he's a genuine little horse."

Attfield originally had been eyeing a second-level allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf later this week for Sand Cove, who was eligible for that spot because two of his three wins had come in restricted allowance company.

"He was going so well, I thought he could be second or third in the Vice Regent," said Attfield. "When Not Bourbon came out, thank God we had a backup in there."

Richard Dos Ramos had ridden Sand Cove in his 13 previous career starts, but he was at Saratoga on Sunday guiding Breeders' Stakes winner Marlang to another front-running score in the Grade 3 Saranac for trainer Debbie England. Slade Callaghan picked up the mount on Sand Cove.

Meanwhile, with the Vice Regent being the last Ontario-sired stakes of the meeting for straight 3-year-olds, Attfield may be looking at the $125,000 Overskate, a restricted seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward here Sept. 20, for Sand Cove's next outing.

Not Bourbon's injury appears minor

Not Bourbon, winner of the Queen's Plate but away since finishing sixth in the July 19 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, had been in perfect order when he jogged for the Vice Regent on Sunday morning.

But Attfield, who later was over looking at yearlings for the upcoming Woodbine sale, was called back to the barn and informed that something was amiss.

"He had a small hematoma on the side of his leg," said Attfield. "He must have rapped it on a wall, or on his tie chain.

"I was sure he was 100 percent sound, but I couldn't bring him over like that."

Not Bourbon had undergone throat surgery after suffering an entrapped epiglottis during the running of the Prince of Wales, and Attfield had considered the Vice Regent an important test.

"It was a great spot, to lead up to where I was going to go next," said Attfield, who reported that there was still some filling in Not Bourbon's leg on Monday but that he hoped to have the colt back on the track Tuesday morning. "It's aggravating. It's messed up my schedule a little bit."

Attfield plans to nominate Not Bourbon to the Overskate and the $150,000 Ontario Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds here Sept. 28.

Palladio unlikely for Woodbine Mile

Palladio, a 6-year-old horse whom Attfield trains for Haras Santa Maria de Araras, is nominated to Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile but is not considered a probable starter.

"He's doing so well," said Attfield, who plans to discuss Palladio's situation with his owner over the next few days.

Palladio, a Florida-bred who was Canada's champion 3-year-old in 2005, worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 on the turf training course here last Friday.

Attfield does have confirmed candidates for Sunday's other stakes features, with Spice Route set for the Grade 1, $750,000 Northern Dancer and Callwood Dancer for the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian.

The Northern Dancer is a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, while the Canadian is a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Spice Route, who had placed in Group 3 stakes company in Europe, was sent here to Attfield after finishing up the track when making his North American debut in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 28.

The 4-year-old Spice Route returned to the grass for first local start Aug. 21 and was a convincing winner of a second-level optional $62,500 claiming race at the Northern Dancer distance.

Callwood Dancer has won 3 of 4 starts this year, all on turf, including the Grade 2 Nassau at 1 1/16 miles and the 1 1/8-mile prep for the Canadian in her last start on Aug. 14.

Jim McAleney rides Spice Route and Eurico Rosa da Silva has the mount on Callwood Dancer.

Sugar Bay takes to the turf

The 3-year-old filly Sugar Bay, who won a first-level allowance three starts ago, suddenly is amongst the cream of her crop.

Following up her victory in the seven-furlong Duchess with a 4 1/4-length romp going a mile on turf here in Saturday's $182,800 Ontario Colleen, Sugar Bay has banked $351,660 this year.

Although she had neither trained nor worked on turf prior to the Ontario Colleen, Sugar Bay took to the surface with a flourish under new rider Jono Jones and recorded a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

"I kind of think maybe she's better on the grass," said trainer Mac Benson. "She was certainly powerful there on Saturday."

The $150,000 La Lorgnette, an open race for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack here Sept. 27, and the $150,000 Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies on Oct. 11, are Sugar Bay's upcoming options.

The La Lorgnette offers an extra $50,000 for Ontario-breds, and Sugar Bay picked up the $30,000 winner's share of that bonus money in both the Duchess and the Ontario Colleen.

"I really don't know which one we'll go in," said Benson. "Whichever one I hit, I'll miss the other. I think running in both would be too much."