08/01/2009 12:00AM

A Barn 14 showdown at Woodbine


ETOBICOKE, Ontario The holiday Monday s $150,000 Seagram Cup Stakes at Woodbine could have been considerably tougher than it came up.

The champion Marchfield was nominated to the Grade 3 race, but he finished second on the grass last weekend in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes and wasn t entered. Grade 1 winner Colonel John was under consideration, but his connections kept him at Del Mar for Friday s Wickerr Stakes. The stakes-winning 3-year-old Awesome Rhythm was sent instead in Saturday s Grade 2 West Virginia Derby.

Approval Rating and Ice Bear, who both reside in Barn 14 at Woodbine, are the protagonists in the 1 1/16-mile event. Among their opponents are the shippers Vacation and Ready s Echo.

Approval Rating, who was purchased at the 2008 Keeneland November sale by owner Peter Redekop, has run three solid races this year. Approval Rating finished a close third in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse Stakes in May, and was recently a front-running second behind Marchfield in the 1?1/4-mile Dominion Day Stakes.

He ran about as good as he s able the last time, said trainer Terry Jordan. It was just a better horse who beat him. I think a mile and a sixteenth is probably better for him. He s training very well right now. I believe he ll let it be known that he s in there.

Ice Bear won the Grade 3 Eclipse in his second appearance of the year, but he could only manage fifth in the Grade 3 Dominion Day.

Trainer Mac Benson thinks the Dominion Day distance is farther than Ice Bear s optimum, and that the gelding is better suited to the conditions of Monday s race.

I think this is more to our liking, Benson said. He s coming up to it good. He s a pleasure to be around. He handles himself like a consummate professional.

Vacation was the 4-5 favorite in the slow-paced Dominion Day for trainer Shug McGaughey, finishing a stalking third while receiving a career high 96 Beyer Figure.

Ready s Echo, trained by Todd Pletcher, captured a seven-furlong allowance on the Polytrack at Keeneland in April. He subsequently ran seventh in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, and was fifth in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap.

Marlang, a turf specialist trained by Debbie England, was scratched from the Nijinsky because the course was soft. He won the Grade 3 Saranac and the Breeders Stakes last year after graduating on the Polytrack.