05/22/2008 11:00PM

Coatrieux pair strong on turf


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Skipped Bail and Nottawasaga both could be in line for solid campaigns this year in their respective turf divisions for Chiefswood Farm and trainer Eric Coatrieux.

Skipped Bail, an Ontario-bred 5-year-old gelding, and Nottawasaga, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old mare, run in the first turf stakes races of the meeting.

First up will be Skipped Bail, who is among 11 entrants in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Connaught Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward. Six days later, Nottawasaga is scheduled to be in the lineup for the Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares.

Both Skipped Bail and Nottawasaga come into their stakes off encouraging efforts in their seasonal bows on the Keeneland turf course, and Coatrieux reports that both have trained well since returning to Woodbine.

Skipped Bail finished sixth in a 1 1/8-mile classified allowance on April 12 but was beaten by just 2 1/4 lengths. Nottawasaga ran the following day in an open allowance at 1 1/16 miles and ended fourth, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths.

Jesus Castanon was riding Skipped Bail for the first time at Keeneland.

"I didn't expect too much. I just wanted him to have a good race and be all set for when he came back here," said Coatrieux, who is the private trainer for Chiefswood.

Skipped Bail, in the last flight early, made some late headway.

"It wasn't a good trip," Coatrieux said. "He only really ran the last eighth of a mile."

Skipped Bail, winless in his first 11 outings, finally put it all together here last summer, winning his maiden and two allowance races consecutively.

Coatrieux gives credit to jockey Tyler Pizarro, who was an apprentice at the time, for finding Skipped Bail's hole card.

"The horse came to life when we put the kid on him," Coatrieux said.

Skipped Bail closed out his 2008 campaign with a close third-place finish here in the Chief Bearhart and a fifth in the Grade 3 River City at Churchill Downs.

It took Nottawasaga only three starts to find the range, as she graduated over the Calder turf in her third and final outing as a 2-year-old.

But after winning turf races at Keeneland and Woodbine in spring 2006, Nottawasaga was absent for almost six months.

Nottawasaga returned with two good efforts at Gulfstream in winter 2007, including a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Suwanee River, only to be sidelined once again.

Following a third-place finish in her return here in the Oct. 27 River Memories, Nottawasaga was headed for the Grade 2 Canadian and possibly the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor but had a setback in her training and did not make either race.

Nottawasga's season concluded at Churchill Downs, where she finished third in the Grade 3 Cardinal, and her Keeneland outing this spring was a strangely run race in which she found herself in an unaccustomed position on the front end before dropping back and then rallying.

Lomaki to stretch out in stakes

Coatrieux also sees stakes potential in Lomaki, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly who has put together impressive back-to-back victories after getting a late start to her career.

"I always knew she had ability, but she had a lot of issues - small injuries, nothing major - that we had to deal with," Coatrieux said.

Lomaki debuted at Keeneland on May 10 with a six-furlong maiden win that earned her a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

In her next start, here at Woodbine on May 10, Lomaki won a first-level allowance over seven furlongs in convincing fashion with her Beyer coming back at 89.

Lomaki, a daughter of A.P. Indy, is slated to test deeper waters in the $100,000 Hill 'n' Dale, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares here June 21.

"I'm confident she'll stretch out," Coatrieux said. "It should actually be easier on her."

Orbison retired with injury

Not all is rosy on the Chiefswood front, as Orbison, a 3-year-old colt who had been considered a Queen's Plate candidate heading into the season, has been retired after suffering suspensory injuries in just his second start.

Orbison, a homebred son of Aptitude and Dance to Reason, was vanned off following his 2008 bow at Keeneland last month.

"It's a shame," Coatrieux said. "We really thought he was going to be a nice horse."

Sealy Hill drills for Nassau

Sealy Hill, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year and champion turf female, worked five furlongs in 1:02 on the main track here Friday in her final major Nassau prep.

"She broke off a couple of lengths behind an unstarted maiden, Needham's Fort, and they finished together," trainer Mark Casse said. "The track wasn't nearly as fast as it's been."

Needham's Fort, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by A.P. Indy who was a $2 million yearling purchase, was clocked in 1:02.60.

Patrick Husbands, Sealy Hill's regular rider, was not aboard for Friday's work and was off his mounts for the day after flying to Nassau to attend a friend's funeral.

The Nassau would be the second start of the season for Sealy Hill, who faltered to finish last of 10, only 5 3/4 lengths behind the winner, in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Keeneland on April 12.

Callwood Dancer, Autobahn Girl work

Callwood Dancer and Autobahn Girl, who also are among the Nassau nominees, worked five furlongs on the training track turf course Friday morning.

With jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons, Callwood Dancer was clocked in 1:03.20.

"Eurico was happy," said trainer Roger Attfield, who will be sending out Callwood Dancer in search of her second win in as many starts this season in the Nassau.

Autobahn Girl, trained by Malcolm Pierce, worked in company with stablemate Badge of Truth, and both were timed in 1:00.60.

Pierce, who sent out Autobahn Girl to finish fourth behind Callwood Dancer in a Polytrack prep for the Nassau, is not committing to the stakes.

"I'd kind of like to get a line on who's going to be in there, to see whether we'll be running or not," Pierce said.