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Damsel fillies ducking 'Ginger'
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Gonetofarr and Mulrainy were ready and willing to take a shot at Ginger Gold here in the June 8 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.
But after chasing Ginger Gold in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks both fillies will pass on a rematch at Fort Erie in Monday's $250,000 Labatt Bison City, the 1 1/16-mile race that is the second leg of the Triple Tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.
Gonetofarr and Mulrainy still are scheduled to run this holiday weekend, but their efforts will be here, in Sunday's $150,000 Ontario Damsel.
The Damsel, restricted to Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, will go at 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf, a surface upon which neither Gonetofarr nor Mulrainy has ever set foot in a race or a training session.
Gonetofarr defeated Ginger Gold in the seven-furlong Fury, but ran fourth as the strong second choice in the Oaks.
"She doesn't want to go that far," said Reade Baker, who trains Gonetofarr for owner George Farr. "She has a throat problem that complicates her ability to go around two turns. "That's the second reason she's not going to the Bison City - the first reason is Ginger Gold."
Baker is not concerned over Gonetofarr's lack of familiarity with grass in a racing setting.
"I think horses run as good the first time on turf, if not better, than at any time in their lives," said the trainer, who passed on working Gonetofarr on the training turf course here.
"I think it's foolhardy to take them to the training turf course," he said. "It's a completely different surface [than the main, or E.P. Taylor, course here]. It just misleads you."
Baker also believes Gonetofarr's pedigree and stalking style should work well on turf.
"I think, with her pedigree, she'll handle it," he said, noting that Gonetofarr's dam, First Flag, won Hawthorne's Gold Digger over a mile of turf in 1993.
"But this course is so different - some of the turf pedigrees don't stand up, and some non-turf pedigrees seem to succeed.
"And the one thing extremely different about this turf course from other turf courses and the dirt is that it's a very difficult place to win on the lead."
Mulrainy, trained by Tom O'Keefe for the Wings of Erin Farm of Les Roberts, had been competitive in her previous stakes tries but was a faltering ninth in the Oaks.
"Because of her running a bad race in the Oaks, we decided we'd go in a new direction with her and try the turf," said O'Keefe. "We'll shorten her up a bit and see what happens.
"I didn't think we'd gain anything by going to the Bison City. She cannot beat Ginger Gold, on her best day."
While O'Keefe would not have been averse to working Mulrainy on the training turf course, a suitable opportunity did not present itself.
"If it had been open last Sunday I'd have worked her," said O'Keefe, who instead sent out Mulrainy to work five furlongs on the main track that morning.
O'Keefe also sees no downside to the fact that Mulrainy has yet to step onto a turf course.
"I think all horses like the turf," he said. "Some horses just show their true ability on it; that's where you get the improvement."
And he believes Mulrainy's breeding and running style will lend themselves to turf racing here. "Her pedigree indicates she'll handle it," said O'Keefe, noting that Malbay, dam of Mulrainy, finished second to Dance Smartly here over one mile of turf in a division of the 1990 Natalma Stakes.
"I think the sweeping turn [on the Taylor course] will help. She'll definitely have to come from out of it, and the turf gives them a much better opportunity."
Bonus Pack arrives with 106 Beyer
Bonus Pack checked in Thursday morning from Kentucky, along with groom Nicacio Carrillo, and will run in Monday's Grade 3 Dominion Day Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward.
Owned by Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor, Bonus Pack gets into the $200,000 Dominion Day with 116 pounds and will be ridden by Jose Castanon.
Bonus Pack, an imposing physical specimen, is coming off his best career performance, winning his third allowance condition over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 106.
A Fleets Dancer breezes
A Fleets Dancer, who will be the 121-pound highweight when he defend his Dominion Day title for owner Cam Allard and trainer Roger Attfield, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 on a fast training track here Thursday.
Working in company with A Fleets Dancer, who had regular rider Robert Landry in the irons, was 3-year-old filly Alpha Heat, who also was clocked in 1:02 under exercise rider Paul O' Sullivan.
Alpha Heat, owned by Stronach Stable, is headed for the Bison City after finishing third in only her second start of the year here in the Oaks.
Bell on Silver Nithi: 'pretty sharp now'
Silver Nithi, the Oaks runner-up, also is Bison City-bound, and breezed four furlongs in 47.60 seconds under regular rider Mickey Walls on a fast main track here Thursday.
"She's pretty sharp now," said David Bell, who trains Silver Nithi for Dick and Jo Ellen Shaw.
Overskate entrants work
Runaway Love and Classic Manner, both scheduled to run in Wednesday's $125,000 Overskate, also worked on the main track Thursday.
The Overskate is a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.
Runaway Love drilled three furlongs in a bullet 34.60 seconds under regular rider Emile Ramsammy, and will be seeking his second straight Ontario Sire Stakes win; he already won the 1 1/16-mile Steady Growth.
"He's ready to go," said Abraham Katryan, who trains Runaway Love for Martin Dinkin and Harry Pais. "He's improving quite a bit lately."
Classic Manner, who breezed five furlongs in a black-letter 59.40 under exercise rider Jade Holmes, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for his recent first-level allowance score over six furlongs. "This horse is really coming to hand," said Wray Lawrence, who trains Classic Manner for Briar Hill Farm and Barlee Farm. "I really like the way he's performing."
Jockey Club elects two new members
Audre Cappuccitti and Jim Lawson have been elected to the Jockey Club of Canada, the organization announced Wednesday.
Cappuccitti is a prominent owner and trainer based at Woodbine. Lawson, a lawyer, is the son of Mel Lawson, who races under the Jim Dandy Stable banner.
Jim Lawson also is the former racing writer for The Hamilton Spectator. Mel Lawson owns Ginger Gold.