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Biofuel takes on elders in Belle Mahone
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Biofuel, arguably the best 3-year-old filly at Woodbine, will face older rivals for the first time in Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone.
The Belle Mahone, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares, has attracted a field of seven that also includes Tasty Temptation, one of the top older mares on the circuit.
Biofuel, a co-champion in Canada’s 2-year-old filly division last year, began her current campaign with victories here in the six-furlong Star Shoot and the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette.
Owned by former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones, the Kentucky-bred Biofuel has since started twice in Grade 1 stakes in New York, finishing third in the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose at Belmont and second in the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.
The Grade 2, $750,000 Cotillion, a 1 1/16-mile race on Oct. 2 at Philadelphia Park, is a long-term target for Biofuel, and racing her in the Belle Mahone would serve two purposes.
“Governor Jones wanted to make sure she was eligible for a Sovereign Award,” said Baker, noting that a Belle Mahone appearance would give Biofuel the minimum three starts required for awards consideration.
“We really wanted to run her in the Cotillion, and if we run in the Selene, we couldn’t do both.
“This leaves open both doors for us.”
The Grade 3, $250,000 Selene, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, goes here Sept. 26 and could still be a target for Biofuel, if the trip to Pennsylvania is ruled out.
Eurico Rosa Da Silva, Biofuel’s regular rider, has the mount for the Belle Mahone.
Tasty Temptation had assumed the leadership of the older filly and mare division by winning her first three starts this year, including the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Hill ‘n’ Dale and the 1 1/16-mile Hill ‘n’ Dale itself.
Owned by Woodford Racing LLC and trained by Mark Casse, Tasty Temptation then journeyed to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Ruffian but finished a disappointing fifth in her first try on dirt.
Casse’s initial inclination had been to bypass the Belle Mahone but he reversed course when the filly rebounded quickly from her Saratoga trip and breezed five furlongs in 1:02 on Aug. 14.
“She’s acting pretty good,” Casse said. “When I worked her the other morning, she worked quite nice.
“I thought this would be a good spot to get her back on a winning track.”
Tasty Temptation’s regular rider, Patrick Husbands, already had committed to Much Obliged for the Belle Mahone, and Jim McAleney will be aboard for the first time Sunday.
“He’s a good rider, and she’s not a tough horse to ride,” Casse said.
Tasty Temptation will be the 125-pound highweight, conceding four pounds to Biofuel and shipper Askbut I Won’ttell and six pounds to the other contestants.
Hooh Why, winner of the La Lorgnette here last year and coming off a second-place finish behind last year’s Eclipse Award-winning female sprinter Informed Decision in a one-mile stakes at Presque Isle Downs, is a definite front-running threat.
Milwaukee Appeal looking out of town
Milwaukee Appeal, last year’s champion 3-year-old filly, was among the nominees for the Belle Mahone but is slated to go back on the road for her next start.
“We’ve got in mind either the Personal Ensign or the Molly Pitcher,” said Scott Fairlie, who trains Milwaukee Appeal for Eugene George. “Right now, we’re leaning toward the Molly Pitcher.”
Both filly and mare stakes will be run next Sunday, with the 1 1/4-mile Personal Ensign offering Grade 1 status and a purse of $300,000, while the Molly Pitcher is a Grade 2 race worth $300,000. The Personal Ensign is expected to attract Rachel Alexandra, the reigning Eclipse Horse of the Year.
Milwaukee Appeal began her current campaign with a third-place finish in Belmont’s Grade 2 Shuvee and then finished second here in the Hill ‘n’ Dale.
In her last start, on July 17, Milwaukee Appeal ran fourth in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Oaks.
Fairlie cited three reasons for passing the Belle Mahone in favor of a trip to the Molly Pitcher.
“This gives her an extra week, coming off her mile and a quarter race,” he said. “Then there’s the $300,000 and graded status.”
Milwaukee Appeal breezed for her next engagement here Friday morning, going five furlongs in 1:00.60 on the dirt training track.
Pool Play back to turf for Sky Classic
Casse also has a candidate for Sunday’ Sky Classic, with Pool Play set to switch surfaces for the Grade 2, $250,000 turf stakes.
Pool Play, a 5-year-old horse who is owned by Bill Farish Jr., will be racing on the grass for the first time since finishing eighth as the favorite in the 1 1/8-mile John B. Connally Turf Handicap at Sam Houston on Jan. 10.
In his only other career turf outings, Pool Play had finished fourth at Santa Anita under first-level allowance terms going 1 1/4 miles and second here at 1 1/8 miles in the same classification.
“He loves a mile and a quarter or so, and you just can’t get enough races for him,” Casse said. “I’m going for the distance, more than for turf.
“But if he can run long on turf, it opens up a lot more options for him.”
Pool Play had yet to come into his own when he first tried the turf here, and Casse believes the return to this course should be to his liking.
“He just doesn’t have a quick turn of speed, and on those short-turn turf courses he can’t sprint home.”
Free Fee Lady done for season
Free Fee Lady, another top 3-year-old filly in the Baker barn, has been put away for the season and currently is at Curraghmore Farm in nearby Waterdown.
An Alberta-bred owned by Harlequin Ranches, Free Fee Lady began her career with a second-place finish here May 22 . Free Fee Lady then reeled off three straight wins, including the 1 1/16-mile Selene and the Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles of turf here Aug. 1.
“She was really, really tired after that last race,” Baker said. “Four races in 70 days was physically hard on her.
“Rather than wait to run her in the Selene, we just sent her to the farm. She’ll go down to Florida later, and we’ll give her a winter down there.”
◗ Turf training is scheduled for Sunday, but the course then will take its annual midsummer break. The course will reopen Wednesday, Sept. 8, with the usual “weather permitting” proviso.