10/15/2010 12:50PM

Cup and Saucer provides heady brew for Bell

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Michael Burns
Invitation Only, Omar Moreno up, wins the Simcoe.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Sunday’s Cup and Saucer Stakes could go into the books as little more than a footnote on Canadian International weekend.

But for some of the participants, including trainer David Bell, the $250,000 Cup and Saucer will be far and away the most important race run here this weekend.

Bell also owns a 50 percent interest in Ojibway Signal, who will be making his stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile turf feature for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds and was supplemented to the race at a cost of $7,500. Gus Vlahos is the gelding’s co-owner.

Ojibway Signal, an Ontario-sired gelding who was a $22,000 buy at the local select yearling sale, began his career with a fifth-place finish in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race and then ran seventh in the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

“I thought maybe he had a little turn of foot, and could do something,” said Bell. “The first time he galloped out like a bear, but in his second sprint he just ate Polytrack and stayed back there all the way.”

Stretching out to a mile and 70 yards for an open maiden race, Ojibway Signal finished a good fourth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths.

Blue Laser and Rockin Heat, the 1-2 finishers there, came back to take down the top two spots in last Sunday’s Grade 3 Grey at 1 1/16 miles.

In the meantime, Ojibway Signal had come back to graduate over 1 1/16 miles in restricted company here Sept. 19.

“He still ran a little greenly in the open race,” said Bell. “He won pretty easy last time, in an easy spot.”

Bell is not surprised that Ojibway Signal has picked up his game since moving out around two turns.

“His pedigree’s all long,” said Bell. “He just got a beautiful way of going. It kind of looked like he’d just run on. He’s just kind of kept coming around."

As for the transition to turf, Bell can only speculate in a positive fashion.

“I worked him early with another 2-year-old on the turf training track, and he won by 10,” said Bell, with reference to Ojibway Signal’s five-furlong breeze over that surface in 1:01.20 here Aug. 1.

Justin Stein, who has been Ojibway Signal’s rider in each of his four starts, retains the mount.

Invitation Only sidetracked

Invitation Only, a recent private purchase by owner Earle Mack, was heading for the Cup and Saucer but was derailed earlier this week.

“He worked well last Sunday, but he came out of it a little flat,” said Mark Frostad, who has taken over as Invitation Only’s trainer.

“The next morning, he was full of mucus. We had to treat him, and he couldn’t make this race.”

The $250,000 Coronation Futurity, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds here Nov. 7, could be Invitation Only’s first engagement for his new connections.

“We’ll just have to see how he trains,” said Frostad.

Invitation Only, a $5,500 purchase at the local open yearling sale, had won the $127,800 Simcoe for trainer Dave Cotey, who also owned the horse in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith.

The Simcoe, a seven-furlong yearling sales stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings, was Invitation Only’s most recent start and turned out to be his last for Cotey and company.

Pacheco back for duration

Apprentice jockey Ryan Pacheco, who left Woodbine in early July to ply his trade at Hastings in Vancouver, is back to ride out the balance of the meeting.

Pacheco, 27, was born in Toronto and had worked here as a hotwalker, groom, and exercise rider before attending Chris McCarron’s North American Riding Academy.

After recording 3 wins and 11 in-the-money finishes last year from 27 mounts, including one at Woodbine, Pacheco was planning to put down roots here this season.

But with Omar Moreno dominating the apprentice business, Pacheco was not getting enough mounts for his liking.

“I was getting the second-mounts, but there were 15 apprentices between here and Fort Erie,” said Pacheco, who had ridden 3 winners from 77 starts here this year when he decided to make the move west.

“I thought I needed the experience of being able to riding six or eight races on a card. That’s when you really learn, and that’s what being an apprentice is all about.”

Pacheco had looked at several options and credits local journeyman rider Gerry Olguin, who had been a leading rider at Hastings before coming east in 1999, with encouraging him to try his luck in British Columbia.

“I liked the idea of riding on a bullring,” said Pacheco, noting that Hastings is a five-furlong oval. “It’s very important to get out and get position early. That worked into my style.”

Pacheco hooked up with jockey agent Trapper Barroby, who now is with him at Woodbine, and rode 34 winners from 211 mounts at Hastings to finish seventh in the standings despite his late start.

“The people there were great,” said Pacheco. “I ended up getting on quite a few.”

Armata’s appeal denied

Trainer Vito Armata will be serving a 45-day suspension, from Oct. 13 through Nov. 26, after losing an appeal before the Ontario Racing Commission.

Armata also will be on probation for two years following his reinstatement and must pay a fine of $1,500.

The suspension and fine did not vary from those imposed by the stewards after Molinaro Gioello, who finished second in the third race here on April 4, tested positive for the Class 3 drug acepromazine.

The stewards have approved the transfer of Armata’s horses to trainers Abraham Katryan and Greg De Gannes.

Katryan received Genius Kinshasa, a restricted stakes winner of almost $350,000; Jet Set Exec, who has been unplaced in his last two starts in first-level allowance company; and Nafta, who won his maiden last month for a $19,000 claiming price.

Going to DeGannes were Howwondofulitis, a maiden winner last time out for $20,000; Playful Dance, who graduated last month at the $12,500 level; and the maidens Molinaro Byline and Molinaro Fort.