05/25/2006 11:00PM

Connaught Cup draws visitors

Adam Coaglianese/NYRA
Willard Straight, out for his first graded stakes win, will be ridden Sunday by Todd Kabel.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's Grade 3, $125,000 Connaught Cup has attracted an interesting pair of shippers from south of the border, with Remarkable News and Willard Straight among the entrants for the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

Remarkable News, a 4-year-old who was bred in Venezuela, debuted with a second-place finish at Saratoga last summer and will come into the Connaught Cup as a winner of 4 of 6 starts, all at a mile or 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Trained by Angel Penna Jr., Remarkable News will be making his stakes debut in the Connaught Cup and was an impressive third-level allowance winner at Keeneland last time out.

Penna won the Grade 2 Nassau over 1 1/16 miles on turf here last spring with Que Puntual, a mare who also was making her stakes debut and coming off a third-level allowance romp over the same distance on Keeneland's turf course.

Javier Castellano, who has ridden Remarkable News in all of his races, has the call here.

Castellano finished second in two major stakes here last year, piloting Ready and Alluring in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks and Meteor Storm in the $2 million Canadian International. He also rode in the E.P. Taylor and Nearctic on the Canadian International program.

Willard Straight, trained by Todd Pletcher, has won 7 of 18 starts and $261,070 but will be seeking his first graded stakes score in the Connaught Cup.

Todd Kabel picks up the mount on Willard Straight, a 6-year-old horse who was making his first start in more than five months when he finished third in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance at Keeneland last time out.

Pyramid Park works for Plate Trial

Next Sunday's feature will be the $150,000 Plate Trial, the 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds which is the major local stakes prep for the Queen's Plate.

Pyramid Park, who is a candidate for the Plate Trial, breezed a leisurely five furlongs in 1:04.20 under regular rider Slade Callaghan on the main track Friday morning.

"We just wanted an easy work, to keep him ticking over," said Michael Doyle, who trains Pyramid Park for owner/breeder Thor Eaton. "He went slow, and he picked it up through the line. He did nice."

Pyramid Park won his maiden race last fall when making his fourth career start in the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles on turf, and then finished second in the Coronation Futurity over 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

After running second going seven furlongs in his 2006 debut this spring, Pyramid Park stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and was a convincing winner of an Ontario-sired first-level allowance. His Beyer Speed Figure there, an 86, is his best to date.

Pyramid Park also is nominated to the Victoria Park, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds which is the final local stakes prep for the June 25 Queen's Plate.

The Victoria Park will be run on June 11, the same card as the Woodbine Oaks. A total of 64 Canadian-bred fillies remain eligible for the Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race.

A total of 53 horses remain eligible for the $1 million Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Change of plan for Pellegrino

Pellegrino, the 7-year-old turf specialist who is heading for Monday's Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, breezed four furlongs in 49 on the main track here Friday under exercise rider Suzanne Lorimer.

Roger Attfield, who trains Pellegrino for owner Gary Tanaka, had planned to work Pellegrino on the turf training course but called an audible when he feared that early-morning rains could lead to the cancellation of the turf training session.

"I had to do something with him, so I did it before the track got too greasy and because I thought they might come off the turf," said Attfield.

"He went fine for the dirt - he doesn't enjoy the dirt."

Attfield, incidentally, called the shot as the rain picked up and turf works were canceled. Two races scheduled for the turf here on Friday afternoon were switched to the main track.

Friday's fourth race, originally scheduled for six furlongs of turf with a field of 10 including a main-track only entrant, suffered four scratches because of the change in surface.

The 10th and final race on the card, also slated for six furlongs of turf, had attracted 16 entrants, including six also eligibles, but was to go with a field of nine.

* Sunday will be Toronto Rock Day here at Woodbine, featuring appearances by members of the professional lacrosse team and their cheerleaders, the Hot Rocks.

* Woodbine expects to begin common-pooling with both Penn National on June 7 and with Ellis Park when that meeting begins on July 19. Thoroughbred tracks currently accepting Canadian wagers directly into their pools include Belmont, Churchill, Delaware, Finger Lakes, Lone Star, Mountaineer, Pimlico and Prairie Meadows.