04/24/2002 11:00PM

Exclusive Run aiming for Eclipse


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mike Wright Jr. was prepared to send Exclusive Run in Saturday's seven-furlong Vigil Handicap. But Exclusive Run first was entered in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on the same program, and when that race filled the Vigil became an afterthought.

The classified allowance is billed as the prep for the Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse Handicap. If Exclusive Run performs up to expectations Saturday, he should be seeking his first Ontario stakes victory in the May 11 Eclipse.

Exclusive Run, an 8-year-old, was bred in Alberta and had won several stakes in western Canada when he came here to trainer Red Johnson in the fall of 2000. He had evolved into a hard-hitting performer in the upper claiming and allowance ranks here when Wright claimed him last Oct. 27 on behalf of Fleethouse Stable, the price tag a hefty $80,000.

"He had excellent form and high Beyers," said Wright, who also thought Exclusive Run would do well at Laurel Park, where the trainer races in the winter. He saddled 18 winners from 70 starters at the Laurel meeting.

Exclusive Run finished second and third in a pair of classified allowance races for Wright here last November, and was a well-beaten fourth almost two months later in Laurel's Native Dancer at 1 1/8 miles.

"It seemed like they needed a race over the track," said Wright of the horses at Laurel.

The Native Dancer certainly paid dividends, as Exclusive Run, racing in a Laurel optional claimer 11 days later, earned a lifetime best Beyer Speed Figure of 110 for a neck victory. Two weeks later he was back at Woodbine and received a short break, as did the rest of Wright's Laurel horses.

"He's been working very well," said Wright.

Exclusive Run has worked three times this month, the latest move a bullet six furlongs in 1:13 here last Saturday.

Kennedy Road hearing

Praise From Dixie, who also was claimed for $80,000 by Wright and Fleethouse Stable last year, could become a stakes winner in absentia, as the Ontario Racing Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday about the Dec. 1, 2001, running of the Kennedy Road.

Praise From Dixie finished second in the Kennedy Road, beaten a neck by Olympian. But Wright and jockey Steven Bahen appealed the result, alleging that Praise From Dixie had been struck on the nose by the whip of Olympian's rider, Todd Kabel, during the stretch run.

That appeal was upheld by the Ontario Racing Commission's Industry Board of Appeal Dec. 12. The Industry Board of Appeal's decision, in turn, was appealed by John Cardella, trainer and co-owner of Olympian.

Praise From Dixie was nominated to the Vigil but will not run.

Kimberlite Pipe nearly ready

Kimberlite Pipe, probably the best horse on the grounds who didn't win a stakes last year, has worked twice during the past week as he gears up for what will be primarily a turf campaign.

Kimberlite Pipe might run in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup, the first turf stakes of the meeting, on May 25, said Wright, who took over as Kimberlite Pipe's trainer here last spring.

Kimberlite Pipe, now 6 years old, won three classified allowance races here last year and finished second in the Grade 2 King Edward Breeders' Cup and third in the Connaught Cup.

Another turf star

Wright has a new turf shooter this year as Moomtazz, owned by Richard Englander, checked in this week.

Moomtazz, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred, won the Bal Harbour at Hialeah and the Liberty Bell at Philadelphia Park last year, both on grass. His last start came Nov. 3, when he was beaten a head as the runner-up over 1 1/16 miles in the Rushing Man on The Meadowlands turf.

"He had the winter off," said Wright. "He's a horse for later down the road."

A pair of stakes mares

Other stakes horses trained by Wright include Elektraline and Covert, both of whom are 6-year-old mares owned by Englander.

Elektraline, who came to Wright's Woodbine barn this week, made an auspicious Woodbine debut last fall, winning the Grade 3 Bessarabian for Wright, but was unplaced in her last two starts of the year when she ran for her regular trainer, Scott Lake.

"She's been in training in Pennsylvania," said Wright, adding that Elektraline probably was a month away from a race.

Covert finished second in the Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap on Oct. 21, 2000, but has not seen action since November of that year. She has been here since mid-February and worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds here Wednesday.

Jockey notes

Jockey Chantal Sutherland will serve a three-day suspension, Saturday through Monday, which was issued by the Fort Erie stewards last fall. Sutherland, the Sovereign Award-winning apprentice of 2001, is off to a good start here this spring and will have her bug until Aug. 2.

Jockey Robert Landry has parted company with agent Nancy Sullivan and is back with Gary Kemplen, who had his book a couple of years ago. Kemplen also represents Na Somsanith.

Mickey Walls also has changed agents and now is represented by John Bell, who also has Todd Kabel's book. Mike Langlais had been representing Walls.