12/05/2005 12:00AM

Ex-claimers win weekend stakes

Email
Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Our Madison (on the rail), a $40,000 claim earlier this year, wins the Ontario Lassie for trainer Red Johnson.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainers Red Johnson and Sid Attard long have been regarded as deft hands at the claiming game

And both Johnson and Attard were rewarded last weekend when horses they claimed this year won the two stakes run at Woodbine.

Johnson, 58, claimed Our Madison for $40,000 on Aug. 11 and sent her out to win Sunday's $162,550 Ontario Lassie for owner Kenneth Sawatzky.

Attard, 55, claimed Miss Concerto for $50,000 here July 31 and sent her out to win Saturday's $179,350 Bessarabian for owners Lou and Carlo Tucci.

Our Madison, an Ontario-bred 2-year-old filly, was making her fifth start for Johnson but her first without Lasix in the Ontario Lassie.

Ontario Racing Commission rules require a horse who has joined the Lasix program to race with the medication for at least 100 days. Our Madison had added Lasix in her second career start, which came the day she was claimed by Johnson.

"I wanted to take her off Lasix, but I couldn't until now," said Johnson. "She's a little tiny filly. It was drawing her up; it was killing her."

Our Madison still ran well enough to record a win and a pair of second-place finishes in her first four starts for Johnson.

The 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie was the icing on the cake, as she rallied to win by a neck under apprentice rider Emma Wilson.

"The end result was it was a weak field, and we had Emma," said Johnson. "She's a star."

Our Madison will winter on nearby Olympic Farm and Johnson will not be rushing her back to the racetrack next winter.

"There's no point in bringing her back early," said Johnson. "She wants to run a little bit more than five furlongs, and she wants turf.

"I've got to think she'll improve as a 3-year-old. There's nothing to her, but she has a wonderful stride."

The Ontario Lassie was the first stakes win since 2000 for Johnson, who prides himself on having maintained a winning ratio of better than 20 percent over his long career.

"This year has been horrible," said Johnson. "But, this brightens it up a little bit."

Miss Concerto elevates Fraser

Miss Concerto, a Florida-bred 4-year-old filly, was the seventh stakes winner of the year for Attard.

The Bessarabian also was the fifth stakes win this year for jockey Corey Fraser and his first as a journeyman. Fraser, who lost his apprentice allowance on Sept. 30, had won his first four stakes before that. Apprentice allowances cannot be applied in stakes races.

Fraser heads into the final five days of the meeting as the runner-up in races won with 133 and ranks fifth in purse money won with over $6 million.

Wilson, who won three races on Sunday, leads both categories - with 168 wins and $7.1 million in purses won. The Ontario Lassie was her second stakes victory.

Attard leads the trainer standings in races won with 63, eight more than his closest pursuer, Mark Casse.

Reade Baker is the top money-winning trainer, with $3.9 million. Attard is next with $3.4 million.

While Baker will be based at Gulfstream this winter, Attard does not race during the off-season. The 2006 Woodbine meeting opens April 1, two weeks earlier than this year's meet opened. The backstretch will open Feb. 12, as opposed to March 1 this year.

"I'm happy about it; I'll be back in as soon as they open," said Attard.

Rainford gets fourth career win

Michelle Rainford won her fourth career race with the 10-pound "bug" here Sunday and promptly hung up her tack in order to make the best use of her apprentice allowance next season.

Rainford, 25, began riding here Oct. 26 and won Sunday's first race with Tracy's Tonka Toy, who also had been her first career winner on Nov. 22.

From 31 mounts, Rainford compiled a record of 4-3-4 for earnings of $103,529.

Two Kingarvie principals work

Pyramid Park and Bad Hat, the two leading candidates for Sunday's Kingarvie Stakes, both worked five furlongs on the main track last weekend.

The $125,000 Kingarvie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds, will share top billing on the closing-day program with the $125,000 Valedictory, a 1 3/4-mile handicap for 3-year-olds and upward.

Pyramid Park, who was clocked in 1:03.60 on Saturday under jockey Slade Callaghan, is coming off a second-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

"He didn't go very fast, but he went nice," said trainer Mike Doyle.

Bad Hat went in 1:04.80 on Sunday with Tyler Gaskin, agent for jockey Patrick Husbands, in the irons.

"It was a funny track," said trainer Mike DePaulo, who sent out Bad Hat to victories in his first two starts, including the seven-furlong Frost King. "He galloped out good."

Callaghan has been Bad Hat's rider to date but also is the regular partner of Pyramid Park and will be sticking with that one on Sunday. Husbands gets the call on Bad Hat.

* Woodbine, continuing to compensate for races lost because of cancellations recently, plans to card 11 races on Thursday and Friday, 12 on Saturday, and 14 on Sunday.