08/21/2008 11:00PM

Black sitting pretty for Belle Geste


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Ian Black holds a hot hand for Sunday's Belle Geste, which is one of two $100,000 overnight stakes on the program and attracted a field of 10 Ontario-foaled fillies and mares.

Black will send out Glitter Rox, who is owned by Elle Boje Farm and partners, and Prophetically, owned by Kinghaven Farm and partners, in the Belle Geste over seven furlongs on turf.

Glitter Rox, a 4-year-old homebred, probably will be favored off her second-place finish in the Repercussion, an open 6 1/2-furlong stakes for fillies and mares that was run over yielding turf here July 9.

The Repercussion was a prep for the Grade 3 Royal North, a six-furlong turf race here Aug. 2.

"She had a minor setback and missed the Royal North," said Black. "But I thought her last race was excellent. She had her head turned sideways at the break, and finished strongly.

"Seven furlongs is probably her best distance."

Prophetically, also a 4-year-old homebred, rallied strongly to win her last start over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in a $62,500 optional claimer/second-level allowance race here Aug. 4.

In her only previous turf outing, Prophetically had finished a closing but nonthreatening fourth in the six-furlong Zadracarta here June 15.

"Her last race was good," said Black. "The distance, and a little more pace up front, helped. Seven furlongs should suit her even better."

Chantal Sutherland retains the mount on Glitter Rox, while Emma-Jayne Wilson will take her usual seat aboard Prophetically.

Becky Sharp a danger

Becky Sharp, a 6-year-old who upset the Zadracarta in her first start of the season, is a serious threat to spoil Black's Sunday.

Owned by Patricia Martin and trained by Andrew Smith, Becky Sharp came back to finish fourth in the Repercussion and then rebound with a solid second-place finish in the Royal North.

"She ran a super race last time," said Smith, who had watched Becky Sharp rally from fifth place to gain the runner-up spot in a three-way photo under regular rider Robert Landry.

"We thought there would be a few going for the lead, and didn't want to go head and head. It looked like she was going to be fourth, but she ended up second, just on pure guts."

Becky Sharp will be making her third appearance in the Belle Geste, having finished third last year and fourth in 2006.

"She's won on the dirt at seven furlongs, and won on the turf at seven furlongs," said Smith. "I think she's better going six furlongs, but if she gets the right pace scenario she should be all right."

Turf Grade 1's attract crowds

The lists of nominees for the Woodbine Mile and Northern Dancer, a pair of Grade 1 turf races for 3-year-olds and upward here Sept. 7, were released on Friday.

The $1 million Woodbine Mile, a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race, attracted 24 nominees, while the $750,000 Northern Dancer lured 26.

The Woodbine Mile nominees include five horses based in Europe, 10 training in the United States, and nine locals. The Northern Dancer list includes seven Europeans, 13 Americans, and six locals.

Kip Deville, who used his second-place finish here last year as a springboard to success in the Breeders' Cup Mile, has been pointing for this year's Woodbine Mile all season. A 5-year-old horse trained by Rick Dutrow, Kip Deville won the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland on April 11 and the Grade 3 Poker at Belmont on July 13 in his only starts this season.

Trainer Bobby Frankel has expressed a serious interest in the Woodbine Mile on behalf of Ventura, a 4-year-old filly. Ventura has made her last three starts over one mile on turf, all over different ovals.

After finishing third in the Grade 3 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs, Ventura won the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont and then was beaten a nose as the runner-up in the Grade 2 CashCall Mile at Hollywood.

New role for Northern Dancer

The Northern Dancer, at 1 1/2 miles, has been repositioned on the schedule this year to serve as the major local prep for the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International on Oct. 4.

Cloudy's Knight, who has disappointed in three starts this season after winning last year's Canadian International, is scheduled to return to Woodbine in an attempt to rediscover better form in the Northern Dancer.

An 8-year-old gelding trained by Frank Kirby, Cloudy's Knight also won the Grade 2 Sky Classic and finished second in the Grade 2 Nijinsky here en route to being voted Canada's top turf male in 2007.

Seaside Retreat, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Mark Casse who is in excellent form, is a solid local hopeful off his last-out score in the Grade 2 Nijinsky over 1 1/4 miles on turf here Aug. 4.

Another interesting player in the local turf ranks emerged here Thursday when Spice Route, a 4-year-old gelding making his first start for trainer Roger Attfield, won a 1 1/2 mile race under $62,500 optional claiming/second-level allowance conditions.

Spice Route had campaigned with mixed success in England before coming to North America this summer and finishing last of nine in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 28.

On Thursday, Spice Route pressed the pace and went onto score by two lengths under Jim McAleney, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

"I was very pleased with what I saw," said Attfield. "It was only a two-other-than, but he came the last half pretty quickly. I think it was a pretty solid race.

"He came out of it very well, and he could run back in the Northern Dancer."

Sealy Hill on familiar path

The Sept. 7 card also will include the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares The Canadian is the major local prep for the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, which will be run on the Oct. 4 program.

Sealy Hill, runner-up last year in both the Canadian and E.P. Taylor, is looking to follow the same program.

Trained by Mark Casse, Sealy Hill was Canada's horse of the year, champion turf filly or mare, and champion 3-year-old in 2007.

Not Bourbon breezes for turf debut

Attfield sent out the Queen's Plate winner Not Bourbon to breeze five furlongs in 59.60 seconds and gallop out six furlongs in 1:13.20 on the training track turf here Friday morning under regular rider Jono Jones.

"It looked very good to me," said Attfield, who trains Not Bourbon for owner/breeder Charles Fipke. "Time-wise it looked good, and he came back good."

Not Bourbon is scheduled to make his turf debut in the $125,000 Vice Regent, a one-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds here Aug. 31.