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Edenwold takes on elders
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Edenwold, winner of the Queen's Plate in June, has been basking in relative anonymity in recent months.
But that could change in a big way at Woodbine on Saturday if Edenwold, who is owned by Jim and Alice Sapara and trained by Josie Carroll, can handle a strong field of older rivals in the $125,000 Woodbine Slots Cup.
"It's a tough field," Carroll said. "And it's a bit of a test for a 3-year-old against this kind of older horses.
"But at this time of year, that's what we have to do."
The Ontario-bred Edenwold was making only his third start of the year in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate on June 25. Three weeks later, he weakened to finish fifth and was moved up to fourth via a disqualification in Fort Erie's 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales.
Edenwold's next start came at Northlands Park in Edmonton, in the Aug. 26 Canadian Derby, a 1 3/8-mile race in which he finished fourth behind the Woodbine-based winner, Shillelagh Slew.
"It took a while for him to bounce back from the Prince of Wales," said Carroll. "I thought he came out of it better than he did."
Edenwold was freshened up and returned to action at Woodbine Oct. 8 in the seven-furlong Mt. Sassafras, facing Ontario-foaled older horses. He ran second in a field of eight.
"I wanted to shorten him back up, give him a chance to use his speed, and aim him for the Slots Cup," said Carroll.
"I thought he ran a huge race."
Edenwold will have a new rider - Patrick Husbands, who takes over from Emile Ramsammy, who was aboard for all six of the colt's starts this season.
Carroll sends some to Fair Grounds
Carroll was busy at Woodbine Thursday, seeing off her first load of horses for the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La., where she has 30 stalls. The Fair Grounds meeting begins Nov. 23.
Among her first six shippers was Raw Power, one of several runners that Carroll will have at Fair Grounds for owner-trainer Barbara Minshall.
Among Carroll regulars scheduled to run at Fair Grounds are Mr. Sulu, an 8-year-old gelding who is slated to make his sixth consecutive appearance in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf on Dec. 9, and Estevan, a 5-year-old horse who could run in the 1o1/16-mile Tenacious Handicap on Dec. 2.
Estevan is scheduled to go on to Gulfstream, where he and Edenwold will be based with assistant trainer Lorie Allen. Edenwold will be heading directly to Florida.
"I plan to stay here longer this year," said Carroll. "I'd like to keep a bunch of horses here until the end. Hopefully, track conditions won't come into play."P
Martin Collins, who oversaw the Polytrack construction and is a principal in the group that made the sale of it to Woodbine, was back in town this week in the wake of recent concerns about the surface.
"I felt Marty was very forthcoming," said Sue Leslie, who met with Collins in her role as president for the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "He feels the biggest problem we have right now is too much fiber in the track. The track is separating, and the fiber comes to the top while the sand goes to the bottom. When the cooler weather hits, it separates even more."
Woodbine dealt with the problem by removing some of the fiber from the track on Wednesday.
"When the temperature gets colder, they may have to take more fiber off," said Leslie. "It will be stored in case it's needed next year.
"What's going to happen when the temperature drops drastically, I don't think anybody really knows.
"Possibly there may have to be adjustments to the wax, too, but that wouldn't happen until next year."
Both Collins and Woodbine management contend that the amount of traffic over the surface contributed to the problem.
"There isn't another track that mimics what we have here - the number of workers, the number of racing days, the changing temperatures," said Leslie.
"Every Polytrack isn't exactly the same. We're going to have to tweak ours as we go along, and see how it responds to what we're doing.
"I think the maintenance crew is giving everything they have to get this track right."
Dancer's Bajan wins first stakes
Dancer's Bajan overcame some adversity to win his first stakes here Wednesday night in the $125,800 Frost King, a seven-furlong dash for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.
Dancer's Bajan lost momentum when steadied at the three-eighths pole by jockey Corey Fraser. After regrouping, he rallied inside to defeat the 1-2 favorite, Legal Move, by a nose after an exciting stretch battle.
"The outside [horses] came in on the turn, and squished us all together," said Fraser, who was riding his sixth stakes winner of the meeting. "He got bounced around, and I had to hold him together. I thought we were done there, but as soon as he cleared them, he showed me a ton of guts and worked his way up in there."
After tracking Krz n' Flashy through an opening quarter of 22.87 seconds, Legal Move set the half-mile fraction of 46.15. Paige the General, who stalked all the way on the outside, finished 4 1/4 lengths back in third in the seven-horse field.
Dancer's Bajan ($12) ran the distance in 1:24.97, for a Beyer Speed Figure of 75. He earned $75,000 for 3 Sons Racing Stable Ltd.
Trainer Bob Tiller said Dancer's Bajan might make his next start in another Ontario sire stakes, the $125,000 Kingarvie on Dec. 2. Dancer's Bajan was Tiller's ninth stakes winner of the meeting.
Media awards coming
Woodbine Entertainment's HPI TV is among the finalists for outstanding film/video/broadcast, one of four Sovereign Award media categories.
The Score Television Network is also a finalist in the category, along with Horse Racing Alberta and White Iron Productions, as announced by the Jockey Club of Canada on Thursday.
Chris Lomon, of Woodbine's media communications department, and Peter Gross and Paul Wiecek are on the short list for outstanding feature story.
Wiecek is also a finalist for outstanding newspaper article, along with Dave Perkins and Steve Plaunt.
Michael Burns Jr., Michael Burns Sr., and Dave Landry are up for outstanding photograph honors.
- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink