04/07/2009 11:00PM

Closing Speed, Ochoa lead invading crew


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Closing Speed and Ochoa, who are both coming off a decisive maiden win, are among a host of American shippers in Friday's seventh race at Woodbine, a first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies.

Closing Speed finished second in three consecutive maiden special weight sprints here last fall. She spent the winter at Santa Anita, where she finished in the middle of the pack in a maiden event on the hillside turf course in January.

Most recently, Closing Speed toppled $100,000 maidens in a six-furlong dash on the synthetic Pro-Ride surface, from which the fourth- and seventh-place finishers both exited to score.

Patrick Husbands will ride Closing Speed for Mark Casse, Woodbine's perennial leading trainer.

Ochoa wasn't an impact player here last year on the Polytrack after ending up second in her debut on the grass. She improved with each subsequent start over the winter at the Fair Grounds, and was second by a neck in a maiden special on the grass there Jan. 26.

Ochoa's last race, nearly two months ago, was taken off the grass. She relished the muddy track that day and prevailed by 3 1/2 lengths, after setting a slow pace going 1 1/16 miles.

Ochoa's trainer, Josie Carroll, has won with 13 percent of her route-to-sprint starters during the past five years.

Harmonious Union was claimed from Casse last fall for $50,000 by trainer Alec Fehr, who sent her to Palm Meadows in Florida for the winter. She never threatened in a Feb. 25 turf race at Gulfstream, but she dead-heated for second in a one-mile allowance on the dirt there two weeks ago.

Wild Chant, trained by Steve Asmussen, earned her diploma second time out on the Poly in November. She hit the board in both of her winter excursions, a pair of turf sprints at the Fair Grounds.

Bear's Lightning chased the heavily favored front-runner Gatorette through the turn before retreating in the stretch in a March 8 allowance at Gulfstream. Gatorette subsequently disappointed in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes, but the fourth horse from that long sprint subsequently landed an allowance at Philadelphia Park.

Winning Doe, who won her debut in a five-furlong turf dash in the fall at Calder, is coming off a seventh-place finish behind Wild Chant in New Orleans. She's adding blinkers, a successful angle for trainer Malcolm Pierce.