07/08/2007 11:00PM

Doneraile Gem a pleasant surprise


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Doneraile Gem's score in this past Saturday's Clarendon took trainer John Cardella to Woodbine's infield stakes-winner's circle for the first time in more than five years.

It's not as if the 76-year-old Cardella has had many opportunities since Lil Personalitee captured the Eclipse more than five years ago. He had just six stakes entrants over the past three meetings, and Doneraile Gem was his first of 2007.

Making the occasion all the sweeter was the fact that Doneraile Gem had come into Cardella's hands in an unusual manner and had not exactly inspired high hopes once he got to the racetrack.

Doneraile Gem had gone through the ring without meeting his $6,000 reserve at the select yearling sale here last September on a night when Cardella was not in attendance.

When Cardella learned that Doneraile Gem's breeder, Hill 'n' Dale Farm, was still looking for a buyer, he paid a visit there and ended up purchasing the horse for $7,500.

After breaking Doneraile Gem at Pine Valley Training Centre, Cardella moved him over to his winter quarters at Upper Cold Creek Farm in January.

Cardella, who retains a 50 percent ownership interest in the vast majority of his horses, then contacted longtime client Bud Walters, who was interested but preferred to split his share with his son-in-law, Gerry Frascione.

But when Doneraile Gem came to the racetrack in February, there was little cause for joy among the partners.

"I wasn't that impressed with him," said Cardella, who gelded Doneraile Gem in early March. "He didn't want to do things the right way. He wanted to do them his way. I spent a lot of time and effort on him.

"Finally, I saw there was a $50,000 claiming race, and I thought I'd just run him and see how he did."

To Cardella's surprise, Doneraile Court stalked the pace in that June 7 race at 4 1/2 furlongs before rallying to a 3 1/2-length victory at 14-1 under Patrick Husbands, earning a respectable Beyer Speed Figure of 71.

"I never bet a cent on him, and I always bet something on my horses," said Cardella. "I'd thought that if he finished in the money I'd be tickled pink.

"And when he made the lead, I thought all these years I've been around, I've never been fooled like I was by this guy."

Doneraile Gem also emerged from his first race with a new outlook on life.

"He changed overnight," said Cardella. "He started galloping properly, and did everything perfect."

That professionalism carried over into the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon as Doneraile Gem stalked a rapid pace under Husbands before coming on to score by 1 3/4 lengths.

And while Doneraile Gem is nominated to the $125,000 Colin, an open six-furlong race here July 21, Cardella is inclined to wait for the $150,000 Vandal at the same distance for Ontario foals on Aug. 12.

"I'd like to space his races out a little bit," said Cardella.

Quiet Action boosts leaders

Husbands completed a sweep of the weekend stakes by notching his leading ninth stakes win of the meeting aboard Quiet Action in Sunday's $150,000 Ontario Damsel.

Quiet Action also was the sixth stakes winner of the meeting for trainer Mark Casse, who leads his category on that count.

Owned by Bill Farish Jr.'s Woodford Racing, Quiet Action recorded her first stakes score in the 6 1/2-furlong Ontario Damsel after finishing second in four of her previous five added-money appearances.

"I was worried that she wasn't handling the soft turf when she was a little farther back than usual," said Casse, on the morning after the Ontario Damsel. "But, I found out later that she'd actually clipped heels at the start. That was probably one of the reasons."

Quiet Action is eligible for the Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, but Casse is not leaning that way.

"A mile and a quarter might be pushing it," said Casse. "She's probably more limited to about a mile.

"She's not a big, robust filly, so we'll run her kind of sparingly."

Like Mom Like Sons euthanized

Like Mom Like Sons, the promising 3-year-old colt owned by Howard Walton and trained by Sid Attard, was euthanized at the University of Guelph's veterinary clinic on Saturday.

The problems began when Like Mom Like Sons developed a stubborn pus pocket, and he subsequently foundered.

"We tried like crazy to save him, but there was nothing we could do," said Walton. "He was in a lot of pain."

Like Mom Like Sons won both of his starts here last fall impressively and ran his streak to four when he made his stakes debut in the six-furlong Woodstock here this spring. His only loss came in Pimlico's Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs, in which he failed to make the lead and wound up fifth.

"He was probably one of the top sprinters here, if not the top sprinter," said Walton.

Maiden's purse money taken away

Kilmoggany, a 3-year-old colt who finished second in an Ontario-sired maiden special weight race here Jul 4, has been disqualified from all purse money because he was not eligible for the race.

Ontario-sired races are restricted to horses whose sires were registered with the program during the season in which they were bred, which in Kilmoggany's case was 2004.

Kilmoggany's sire, Tejano Run, has been a registered Ontario sire only since 2005. The discrepancy was not detected by the racing office.

Trainer Red Johnson had claimed Kilmoggany from his previous start for $50,000.