11/10/2010 1:54PM

Court of the Realm drawing notice after streak, big Beyer Speed Figure


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Court of the Realm, trained by Peter Berringer, had been going about his business in relative anonymity through his brief career.

But Court of the Realm’s profile has changed since he reeled off his third straight victory at Woodbine Racetrack last Friday. The Kentucky-bred 3-year-old’s latest Beyer Speed Figure of 98 has caught the eyes of horseplayers and would-be purchasers alike.

“He’s pretty versatile,” said Berringer, who has sent out Court of the Realm to run well on turf and Polytrack at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

“He’ll do whatever you want him to do. He sits, and when you ask him to go, he’ll go. He loves to run.”

Berringer, 48, has been in the business for some 25 years and may have latched on to his best horse to date when he acquired Court of the Realm for $5,500 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2008.

“He came in early as a 2-year-old,” said Berringer, who trains Court of the Realm for regular clients Ming Fong and Sandra Albus.

“He did everything right. He seemed like a pretty nice horse, but he was big and gangly. We put him away to grow.”

Court of the Realm, who is groomed by Berringer’s partner Natalie McMullen, spent the winter on his trainer’s farm in nearby Rockwood and was back in at the track on March 1.

“We just took it slow and easy with him,” said Berringer, who sent out Court of the Realm for the first time July 18.

While Court of the Realm finished fifth in that seven-furlong maiden race, beaten 10 3/4 lengths at 37-1, Berringer believed the race provided valuable experience.

“He got in trouble at the top of the lane,” Berringer said. “He had nowhere to go. He stumbled a little bit and was wide. Still, he ran good.”

Returning in a one-mile turf race, Court of the Realm led from the outset but fell just a head short as the runner-up at 44-1.

“He got a little bit tired,” Berringer said. “It was more of a conditioning thing.”

The colt then finished third, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, when cutting back to seven furlongs on the grass.

“He’s bred for the turf – he’s by Powerscourt, out of a Lear Fan mare,” Berringer said.

“But he wants it rock-hard. They called it firm in his second start, but he was pushing through it. He didn’t like it as much.

“I actually liked him better on Polytrack.”

Berringer’s assessment has been borne out in the interim as Court of the Realm won his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths at seven furlongs, his first allowance condition by 3 1/4 lengths at 1 1/16 miles, and his second condition by 5 1/2 lengths back at seven furlongs.

“In his last three starts, from the quarter pole home, he’s just been out there on his own,” Berringer said.

While Court of the Realm certainly looks ready to move into stakes company, that venture will have to wait until next season.

“He’ll probably just go home,” Berringer said. “We’ll bring him back next year as a 4-year-old. Hopefully, he’ll be stronger and better.”

Big Red Mike points to Autumn

Big Red Mike, the most accomplished 3-year-old on the grounds off his victories in the Plate Trial and Queen’s Plate, will face older horses for the second time in the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes here Saturday.

Owned and bred by Dom Romeo and trained by Nick Gonzalez, Big Red Mike comes into the 1 1/16-mile Autumn off a second-place finish behind Stunning Stag in the allowance prep over the same distance here Oct. 23.

Big Red Mike, who had followed up his Queen’s Plate win with a third-place finish in Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales, returned two months later to finish a disappointing sixth in the Ontario Derby.

“He’s back to himself; he’s doing really, really well,” said Martha Gonzalez, wife and assistant to trainer Nick Gonzalez. “He’s looking very healthy; he’s got a nice glow to him.”

Gonzalez said Big Red Mike’s appearance in the paddock has become more and more of a reliable indicator to his upcoming performance.

“He’s easy to read,” she said. “He was beautiful last time, nice and dry. The race before, he came out soaking wet.”

Luis Contreras had the mount on Big Red Mike for the prep, but regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva will be back in the irons for the $150.000 Autumn..

Southdale, winner of the Grade 3 Durham Cup at 1 1/8 miles here Oct. 3, looms as the horse to beat in the $150,000 Autumn, with Patrick Husbands in the irons for the first time.

Emma-Jayne Wilson, Southdale’s regular rider at the beginning of the season, has been out of action since suffering a lacerated liver on Aug. 21, and Jim McAleney, who took over as the colt’s rider for his last two starts, suffered a season-ending injury Oct. 31.

McAleney, who suffered a broken collarbone, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, under went surgery Tuesday and was back at home later that evening.

“They put a plate on his collar bone, to stabilize it, so it will heal,” said Danny Williams, McAleney’s agent. “They can’t do the conventional thing and use a harness because of the broken ribs.

“He’s still experiencing quite a bit of pain. He’s walking around, but it’s hard for him. He’s a really active person.”

188 in book for CTHS Ontario sale

A total of 188 horses have been cataloged for winter mixed sale conducted by the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s Ontario division.

The sale will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, here at the sales pavilion. Horses will be available for inspection at the sale grounds starting at 9 a.m. Nov. 26.

Catalogs are available at the CTHS office and the Woodbine race office or online at cths.ont.com.

Supplemental entries will be accepted until Nov. 22.

◗ Simply Splendid, a 5-year-old mare who was based here at Woodbine, sold for $200,000 at the Monday session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Trained by Gail Cox, who also owned her in partnership with John Menary, Simply Splendid won stakes here on turf and Polytrack before retiring with an overall record of 6-3-2 for earnings of $497,779 from 13 starts.