12/03/2009 12:00AM

Cardella looks for cap to his strong season


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last year marked the 25th anniversary of Bompago's improbable victory in the Queen's Plate for John Cardella, who had claimed the gelding for $40,000 the previous summer.

But the 2008 season wasn't memorable in many other respects for the 78-year-old Cardella, who recorded just eight victories here for the second year in a row.

Cardella certainly has experienced his share of ups and downs in his 57 years on the racetrack, starting out as a groom and taking out his trainer's license in 1964.

And the pendulum has swung back Cardella's way this year as the trainer had sent out 18 winners and a total of 42 in-the-money finishers from 108 starters here heading into Thursday's program and another 2 winners from 6 tries at Fort Erie.

"I've had a very good season," said Cardella, who had 11 horses here for most of the year. "Polytrack has been very good to me. All my horses seem to run good on it."

Cardella's big horse this year has been Garzon, a 6-year-old gelding whom he owns in partnership with Mel Morris.

Garzon began his campaign with a victory for $25,000 here April 5 and then doubled up for $32,000 before later running his win total to four in a pair of $40,000 claiming races.

After finishing second for a $32,000 tag here last Saturday, Garzon was put away for the season with earnings of $146,723.

Free to Fly, a 4-year-old gelding, also has won four races this year, with all of his successes coming at the $12,500 claiming level.

Owned by Cardella in partnership with Anthony Chris and John Chris, Free to Fly also has added 5 thirds from 12 starts and is entered for $15,000 here Saturday.

Run for Freedom, owned by Cardella in partnership with John Folino, and Hip Hip Hooray, owned by the trainer himself, also will go postward Saturday in the same $10,000 claiming race.

A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly, Run for Freedom notched her first win of the season in her eighth appearance while sporting a $7,500 tag last time out.

Hip Hip Hooray, an Ontario-bred 5-year-old mare, has won out her claiming conditions at the $12,500 level.

Cardella and Folino also have struck gold recently with Celebrian, a 2-year-old filly who was claimed for $20,000 here Oct. 4 and has since gone 3 for 4 with her successes coming at the $25,000 and $32,000 levels.

Feminine Flair, claimed for $25,000 on Aug. 1, clicked for $40,000 for the same partnership on Aug. 13 and was entered here Thursday.

But the most promising prospect in Cardella's string was Aurora Prospect, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old filly owned by Jim McNair's Linmac Farm.

"I was very fortunate to get a few of his babies to train this year," Cardella said.

Aurora Prospect won her maiden for $32,000 and doubled up in a first-level allowance before finishing seventh when trying stakes company in the Glorious Song.

"She bucked a shin, and I sent her to the farm," Cardella said.

Ward Pittfield, who races as Tweedhill Farm and claimed Intuition Magic for $40,000 here June 21, also became a Cardella client this season.

"He's been away from Ontario racing for quite a few years," Cardella said. "But he has a couple of broodmares in Kentucky, and he's looking to run some babies."

After the season winds up here Sunday, Cardella's stock will be heading to the nearby farm of John and Breeda Hayes.

"I'll be back in here Feb. 15," Cardella said. "I'll be bringing in 10 or 12, hopefully."

Cloudy's Knight ships in for Valedictory

The last time Cloudy's Knight was seen locally, he was finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer on Sept. 8, 2008.

Cloudy's Knight, Canada's champion turf horse and the runner-up in the Horse of Year balloting after winning the Grade 1 Canadian International in 2007, went to the sidelines following that 2008 appearance and resurfaced this year with trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Returning in top form at age 9, Cloudy's Knight will be back at Woodbine for Sunday's $150,000 Valedictory off a near-miss in the Breeders' Cup Marathon at Santa Anita.

The Marathon was Cloudy's Knight's first try on a synthetic surface and his first at the 1 3/4-mile distance that he will be traveling here Sunday.

Rosemary Homeister Jr., who has been the gelding's regular rider this year, will be in for the mount.

Genius Kinshasa scores in Sir Barton

Genius Kinshasa, a 3-year-old gelding trained by Vito Armata, rallied for a one-length victory here in Wednesday night's $125,000 Sir Barton.

His success under jockey Emile Ramsammy at 8-1 came at the direct expense of Sand Cove, who had led to the final stages as the 3-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.

"The horse was going good; that's why I took a shot," said Armata, who trains Genius Kinshasa for his wife Enza and sister-in-law Frances Scala and was recording his first stakes win of the season.

Genius Kinshasa, purchased for $5,200 at the preferred session of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's local yearling sale, was becoming a stakes winner and boosting his earnings for the season to $255,350 in the Sir Barton.

"I think he's going to be a big horse here next year," said Armata, who is sending Genius Kinshasa to the nearby farm of trainer Steve Owens for the winter.

"I believe he's better on turf than he is on Polytrack. I hope I'm on my way with him."

Cheyne preserving apprentice allowance

Brian Cheyne guided Jeppino ($12.10) to an 11 1/4-length victory in Wednesday's fourth race and promptly hung up his tack to preserve his apprentice allowance for next spring.

Cheyne, who was represented here by agent Al Duffy, was registering his first win at Woodbine with his 48th mount here.

A 20-year-old native of Fort Erie, Cheyne had registered his first win at Fort Erie Racetrack with his fourth mount on Sept. 14 and finished that meeting with a 3-for-38 mark.

Cheyne plans to spend much of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs, where he will gallop and work horses for Ontario-based trainer John Simms and others.