07/30/2009 11:00PM

Breeders' favorites unproven on turf

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Michael Burns
Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard has never worked out or raced on turf.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard and Prince of Wales Stakes winner Gallant will clash Sunday in the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine.

The 119th running of the 1 1/2-mile turf event for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds heads a 10-race card that also includes the $125,000 Nandi Stakes.

Eye of the Leopard, trained by Mark Frostad for Sam-Son Farm, won the 1 1/4-mile Plate on Polytrack in just his fourth start. He was the 9-5 second choice in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, and wound up third after a three-wide stalking trip. The inside may have been the place to be on the dirt that day, but Frostad offered no excuses for his colt's half-length loss.

Eye of the Leopard has never raced or worked on the grass. Frostad said he thinks that surface won't be a detriment to Eye of the Leopard, a son of A.P. Indy and stakes winner Eye of the Sphynx, who was stakes-placed on turf and is a half-sister to the dam Canadian turf champion Quiet Resolve.

"His dam never won on the turf, but she handled it well," said Frostad. "It's going to be soft, and how they handle that is anyone's guess. He's a big, tall horse, but he's not a heavy horse, so I think he'll go over it pretty well."

The late bloomer Gallant graduated on the Polytrack in May, but trainer Mark Casse opted to bypass the Plate with him in favor of the Wales. He led most of the way along the inside in the Wales and nosed out the favored filly Milwaukee Appeal for the victory.

"It took him a little while to come around," said Casse. "He matured a lot over the winter. We had some throat issues with him. He had a throat operation for an entrapped epiglottis. As he's gotten older, his air has gotten better."

Gallant finished a distant fourth the only time he competed on the grass, which came at 2 over a course labeled yielding in the Cup and Saucer Stakes. Casse said he believes Gallant has the necessary tools for the task at hand.

"I don't see why any distance would be a problem for him," said Casse. "He kept going after the Prince of Wales. The turf was so bad the only time he was on the grass in the Cup and Saucer - you can't go by that."

Keino West, Mr. Foricos Two U, and Flip for the Coin finished fourth, fifth, and sixth in the Wales.

Keino West, who was a non-threatening sixth in the Plate, was beaten more than 20 lengths the only time he tried the grass in the Cup and Saucer. Trainer Steve Attard has mixed feelings about running him 1 1/2 miles over giving ground.

"I know he'll get the distance, but I'm not sure about the soft turf for him," said Attard. "He ran once on the grass last year, but he shouldn't have run there, because it was only [13 days] after his first start going five and a half furlongs."

Mr. Foricos Two U led most of the way in the Plate before coming up a neck short, and he came up empty in the stretch in the Wales. He has little turf breeding, but his trainer, Catherine Day Phillips, has won the Breeders' twice.

Flip for the Coin is one of two entrants trained by Vito Armata, along with Genius Kinshasa, who led throughout a 1 1/4-mile allowance on the grass July 10.

Parabola closed strongly to capture a 1 1/16-mile allowance in his turf debut July 8. His trainer, Barb Minshall, has sent out the Breeders' runner-up on two occasions.

Reservoir won his first two starts, both in May, including a nine-furlong turf allowance. He pressed the pace before fading badly the last time he saw action in the June 21 Plate.

Trainer Analisa Delmas entered two maidens, Hisaki and Mensch, along with Guipago, who captured a 1 3/8-mile maiden special on the grass July 9.