08/03/2007 12:00AM

Breeders' favorites show turf pedigree


The most intriguing aspect of Sunday's Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine, the third jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, is not that the race is run on the turf at the testing distance of 1 1/2 miles. It is that Mike Fox and Alezzandro, the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown and two race favorites, are both bred for the grass but not yet proven on the surface.

Both the Queen's Plate winner Mike Fox, who won his classic on Polytrack, and Prince of Wales winner Alezzandro, a winner on the Fort Erie dirt, are well bred for the surface change.

Throw in Marchfield, who has disappointed along the Triple Crown trail but figures to improve on the grass based on his breeding, and some proven turfers in the 10-horse field and the Breeders' is a bettor's dream.

Mike Fox has a very green pedigree and has raced once on the turf in his career - a third-place finish in the Cup & Saucer Stakes last year as a 2-year-old. It is the distance of the Breeders' that could be the colt's stumbling block.

A giant 3-year-old colt, owned and bred by Morgan Firestone, Mike Fox is by Giant's Causeway, the leading turf sire in North America. A multiple Group 1 winner overseas and second in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2000, the Storm Cat stallion was arguably at his best at a distance of one mile, but he won at up to 1 5/16 miles.

Alexis, the dam of Mike Fox, was a graded stakes winner on turf in Canada but was hard-pressed to negotiate 1o1/4 miles.

Distance won't be a problem for Marchfield, who makes his grass debut in the Breeders'. A son of Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, Marchfield is the third foal of graded-stakes-winning turfer Pico Teneriffe, who earned more than $510,000. Her average win distance was over one mile.

Pico Teneriffe's first foal is four-time grass winner Westmoreland.

But perhaps Alezzandro, who will be making his grass debut in the Breeders', can stake his claim as the top 3-year-old colt in Canada with a victory.

A large son of High Yield (also by Storm Cat) out of the Granacus mare Eseni, Alezzandro not only has the pedigree to love turf but the large, flat, and round hooves.

High Yield, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, never raced on turf but has quickly become known as a super turf sire. His second dam, Leap Lively, was third in the Epsom Oaks and is a daughter of Nijinsky.

High Yield is ahead of Danzig on the list of turf sires by progeny earnings, and among his best offspring is last year's top 2-year-old filly in France, where High Yield now stands, Magic America.

Eseni was strictly a dirt sprinter, but her sire, Granacus, was a stakes winner in long races on dirt and turf. He won the Connaught Cup in 1989 for Alezzandro's owners, Knob Hill Stables.

Eseni's dam, Why Not Willie (by European star Master Willie), was also a dirt sprinter (she was blanked in three grass starts in her career) but was bred to run all day.

Her dam, Theme Song, produced numerous long-winded runners, including Song of Dom, stakes placed twice in the 1 3/4-mile Valedictory Stakes. Theme Song, a foal of 1967, is a half-sister to Giboulee, one of the top Canadian classic runners of 1977.

Yearling sale catalogs available

Catalogs for the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's annual yearling sale of Canadian-bred youngsters next month are now available at the CTHS (Ontario division) office at Woodbine racetrack.

The selected session takes place Sept. 4 and the preferred session is Sept. 8. Among the more than 400 yearlings offered is a half-sister to the catalog cover-horse, champion Financingavailable.