09/03/2008 11:00PM

Dutrow, Frankel runners in supporting roles, too


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's Woodbine Mile will not be the only stage for a clash here between New York trainers Rick Dutrow and Bobby Frankel.

But while Kip Deville, trained by Dutrow, and Ventura, trained by Frankel, will be the principal players in the Woodbine Mile the situation will be different in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer.

Dutrow will send out Frost Giant, who is the 6-1 third choice for the $750,000 Northern Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward which attracted a field of 10.

Frankel will be represented by Champs Elysees, who is the morning-line fourth choice at 8-1.

The relative lack of respect for the two New York shippers is due to the presence of top-drawer turf runners such as Better Talk Now and Quijano, the leading candidates in the field of 10 entered in the Northern Dancer here Thursday.

Better Talk Now is the favorite at 5-2, followed by Quijano at 3-1.

Frost Giant, like Better Talk Now and Quijano, is a Grade 1 winner.

But while Better Talk Now's and Quijano's major successes have come on turf, Frost Giant got his first Grade 1 victory in the Suburban, a

1 1/4-mile race over Belmont's main track, in his last start on June 28.

A Kentucky-bred 5-year-old gelding, Frost King made his first four starts on grass in England and Ireland and won two Group 3 turf stakes. Since coming to Dutrow in North America last fall, Frost Giant also finished fifth in Belmont's Grade 1 Joe Hirsh Turf Classic and seventh in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on the grass, with the Suburban being by far his best effort.

"I think he runs better on the dirt, but that doesn't mean he won't show up for the mile and a half on the grass," said Dutrow.

Jockey Rudy Rodriguez, who was aboard Frost Giant for the first time in his 40-1 Suburban score, has the call here for the Northern Dancer.

Champs Elysees, a 5-year-old horse who was bred in England, started 10 times in France and once in Italy. His biggest win came in a Group 3 before he joined Frankel in California last December.

After finishing second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles and winning the Grade 2 San Marcos over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita, Champs Elysees seemed set to become a premier player in his division.

But a second-place finish at 2-5 in Hollywood's Grade 2 Jim Murray Memorial followed, and Champs Elysees is coming into the Northern Dancer off back-to-back sixth-place finishes in Hollywood's Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham and Monmouth's Grade 1 United Nations.

"His last two races were disappointing, but I think he's had excuses," said Frankel. "I think he's rounding back into top form."

Garrett Gomez, who rode Champs Elysees in the San Marcos, will be back in the irons here Sunday.

Also shipping north of the border for the Northern Dancer are: Strike a Deal, who finished a second in the Grade 2 Nijinsky over 1 1/4 miles on turf in his first trip here Aug. 4; Marsh Side, second in last year's Northern Dancer but unproductive in the interim; and Cloudy's Knight, whose form also has gone south since he won the Grade 1 Canadian International here last fall.

Seaside Retreat and French Beret, the first- and third-place finishers in the Nijinsky, head the locally based contingent, which also includes Spice Route.

The Northern Dancer precedes the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International over the same course and distance here Oct. 4.

And Sunday's Grade 2 Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, for fillies and mares, plays a similar role on the road to the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor, also on on the Oct. 4 card.

The Canadian attracted a field of 11, headed by Forever Together, winner of the Grade 1 Diana over 1 1/4 miles of turf at Saratoga last time out, and Sealy Hill, runner-up in both the Canadian and E.P. Taylor last year en route to being named Canada's champion turf female, champion 3-year-old filly, and Horse of the Year.

Also in the U.S. contingent for the Canadian are: J'ray and Danzon, both trained by Todd Pletcher; Social Queen, trained by Alan Goldberg; and Ciao, conditioned by Frank Kirby.

Canadian entrants besides Sealy Hill are Callwood Dancer and The Niagara Queen, both stakes winners on the turf here this year, along with Quiet Jungle, her "rabbit" Stroke the Tiger, and Tell It As It Is.

Marsh Side, Akronism run for Evans

Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, a bloodstock agent who is regular presence around sales time here, has an interest in both the Northern Dancer and Saturday's Seaway Stakes in his role as racing manager for owner/breeder Robert Evans. Marsh Side will represent Evans in the Northern Dancer, while Akronism carries the Evans colors in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Seaway, a seven-furlong stakes for fillies and mares.

Originally trained by Michael Dickinson, Marsh Side was transferred to Neil Drysdale last fall after Dickinson gave up training to concentrate on his Tapeta racing surface business.

Although unplaced in three starts this season, Marsh Side did show signs of life when fourth in the Cougar II over 1 1/2 miles on the main track at Del Mar last time out.

Akronism, based at Delaware Park with trainer Tim Ritchey, shipped into Woodbine and won the Grade 3 Royal North over six furlongs of turf in her last start on Aug. 2.

Akronism had finished third when making her turf debut at Delaware three weeks prior to the Royal North.

"We tried her on turf, looking at the Royal North," said Lawley-Wakelin. "The object now is to see whether she likes the Polytrack, with the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint being at Santa Anita this year."

The BC Filly and Mare Sprint will be run on Santa Anita's new artificial surface on Oct. 24.