04/23/2010 12:00AM

Benson getting Ice Bear ready


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mac Benson, back from his annual sojourn at Payson Park in Florida, is taking his usual understated approach to the Woodbine meeting.

"I've got some nice horses, if I can keep them sound," said Benson, 79, who has been based here since 1978.

Benson currently has 15 horses, all of whom were with him at Payson Park.

"I'll have 20 by the time I get them all in from the farms," said Benson.

Once again, the leading light in the stable in the barn is Ice Bear, a 6-year-old gelding who is a multiple stakes winner of $823,878 for his owner and breeder, George Strawbridge.

"I don't know what I'd do without him," said Benson, who sent out the Ontario-bred Ice Bear to win 3 of 7 starts and $296,570 en route to a runner-up finish in the Sovereign Award balloting for champion older male last season. "He's kind of held the outfit together, and he's a pleasure to be around."

Ice Bear, who breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds here last Monday, is nominated to the Grade 3, $150,000 Vigil, a seven-furlong race for 4-year-olds and upward here May 9.

"I'll have to talk to Mr. Strawbridge, but we might think of starting him out there," said Benson.

Sugar Bay back with a bullet

Sugar Bay, who was sidelined for the entire 2009 season, is back with Benson at Woodbine and breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.20 here Tuesday.

Owned and bred by Strawbridge, Sugar Bay had closed out her 3-year-old campaign with four consecutive stakes wins here and was the runner-up in the Sovereign Award balloting for her division.

"Things just didn't work out for her last year," said Benson.

Sugar Bay, a daughter of Syncline, was bred in Ontario, and Benson is hoping for good things from Sugar Again, another of that sire's offspring.

Having been bred by Strawbridge in Pennsylvania, Sugar Again will have fewer opportunities but served notice when she was a sharp maiden winner over six furlongs on turf in her second career start here last July.

Sugar Again breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20 here on Tuesday.

Przedrzymirska still mending

Benson's wife and assistant, Barb Przedrzymirska, suffered a badly broken wrist, broken ribs, and knee injuries when she was struck by a car while bicycling near their Stuart, Fla., home.

The accident occurred in early February and Przedrzymirska is undergoing physiotherapy in Florida while making plans to continue treatment here.

D's Wando finds alternative

D's Wando had not been scheduled to run in Sunday's $150,000 Woodstock, the six-furlong race that is billed as the first local stakes stepping-stone to the Queen's Plate.

But trainer Ian Black had to call an audible after D's Wando and Stormy Lord, another Queen's Plate candidate in his stable, both were entered in a second-level allowance race for Sunday that failed to fill.

D's Wando will be making his seasonal bow after concluding his first campaign with a third-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

"I expect they're going to run away from him early," said Black. "But if he can close some ground, at least he's got a race into him."

Stormy Lord was not entered in the Woodstock and probably will proceed directly to the $150,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds here May 15.

"We're trying to get him settled," said Black. "We thought if he got in a race with a huge amount of speed he'd get running quicker than we want him to."

Stormy Lord also made his last start in the Coronation, finishing a neck a head of D's Wando as the runner-up to the undefeated Hollinger.

Lady Shakespeare will cut back

Trainer Roger Attfield sent out Hollinger to breeze four furlongs in 49 seconds at Keeneland on Friday, the morning after he watched Lady Shakespeare win her first graded stakes there in the Grade 3 Bewitch over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Lady Shakespeare, who had finished a close second in each of her first two outings at Gulfstream Park this year, tracked a very a slow pace before drawing off to a 2 1/2-length win in the $150,000 Bewitch.

"I'm not really sure what I'll do with her now," said Attfield. "I'll get home, and get everybody settled, and sit down and think about it. She's got a lot of options.

"I wanted to see her run a mile and a half, and she's done that twice. I'll have to shorten her up now."

Mobilizer doing fine

Attfield also reports that Mobilizer, who was scratched from a 1 3/16-mile maiden race at Keeneland on Thursday, was in good order on Friday morning.

"He had a little bit of a warm pastern," said Attfield. "He was sound, but it was still warm by 2 p.m. and I scratched him. I couldn't run him like that. He must have banged it on a wall in his stall."

Mobilizer, a Queen's Plate eligible owned by Stronach Stable, had finished a very encouraging third in his first start April 8 at Keeneland.

Nemett dead at 77

George "Jake" Nemett, a longtime trainer on the Ontario circuit, died in a hospital on Thursday at age 77.

Nemett, who had retired after suffering a stroke in 2006, is best remembered for sending out upsetters Tiny Tinker here in the Breeders' Stakes and Regent Miss in the Canadian Oaks.

Tiny Tinker thwarted the Canadian Triple Crown bid of Norcliffe in 1976, while Regent Miss returned $345.80 in winning the Oaks in 1981.

In more recent years Nemett trained Kabul, who never won a stakes race but earned almost $800,000

His survivors include a brother, Jim Nemett, a trainer and a former steward for the Ontario Racing Commission.

A funeral service was to be held at noon Saturday at the Scott Funeral Home, Mississauga Chapel, at 420 Dundas Street East.

Wednesday cards starting

Wednesdays join the schedule this week, with first post set for 6:45 p.m.

This Wednesday also will feature this year's first monthly meeting of the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the third-floor Champions area.

Scheduled head table guests include Sandy Hawley, the Hall of Fame jockey is now an ambassador for the Woodbine Entertainment Group, and Adam Hickman of the Woodbine media communications department.