08/27/2010 3:32PM

Fatal Bullet trying turf again


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Fatal Bullet has had trouble mounting a consistent campaign this season.

On Sunday, Fatal Bullet will try his hand on the turf when he starts on that surface for the second time in his career in the Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King Stakes at seven furlongs.

“We would have liked to run him on the Polytrack, but there were no races anywhere for him,” said Reade Baker, who trains Fatal Bullet for the Bear Stable of Danny Dion.

“The program here is so pro-turf that we found it necessary to give him one more chance on the surface.”

Fatal Bullet, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old who was Canada’s horse of the year and champion sprinter in 2008, began his current campaign with a second-place finish behind a dominant Hollywood Hit in the Grade 3 Vigil over seven furlongs.

The gelding then ventured beyond his proven distances to try the Grade 3 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile race in which he set the pace before finishing third, and then was back sprinting on July 17 only to finish third behind Smokey Fire and Hollywood Hit in the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture.

Shortly after the Bold Venture, Baker declared his plan to take a shot with Fatal Bullet in the Play the King.

“His only race on turf was as a 2-year-old,” said Baker, who had watched Fatal Bullet finish ninth in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes over one mile of the E.P. Taylor turf course.

“He dueled early that day, came out of the race extremely tired, and didn’t run again that year.

“But, he certainly wasn’t the horse then that he is now. Hopefully, he’ll like it this time.”

Hollywood Hit sitting this one out

Hollywood Hit was under consideration for the Play the King but his trainer, Terry Jordan, has opted not to participate.

An Oklahoma-bred 4-year-old gelding owned by Peter Redekop, Hollywood Hit had breezed twice over the training track turf here, with his latest move a five-furlong bullet in 58.80 seconds on Aug. 20.

“I didn’t like the way he went,” said Jordan. “It doesn’t matter how fast they go – it’s how they do it. I didn’t think he was comfortable out there.”

Jordan said that Hollywood Hit could resurface in the Grade 3, $100,000 Phoenix, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward at Keeneland on Oct. 8.

Bogue Chitto headed to Philadelphia

Bogue Chitto, who was making his first appearance in more than eight months when finishing fourth in the Play the King prep over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf here Aug. 6, also was nominated to the Play the King but is slated to make his next start in the Turf Monster Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

“Seven furlongs is probably a little beyond what he wants,” said Ian Howard, who trains the homebred Bogue Chitto for Luis de Hechavarria.

“We’ll breeze him on the weekend, and if everything is good we’ll go to Philadelphia and be back here ready for the Nearctic.”

The Turf Monster, a five-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, offers a purse of $250,000 and will be run on Labor Day, Sept. 6.

Bogue Chitto, a 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding, finished second here in last year’s Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic Handicap, a six-furlong race which was won by subsequent Sovereign Award male sprinter champion Field Commission.

This year’s Nearctic will offer Grade 1 status and be run on Saturday, Oct. 16, along with the Canadian International and E.P. Taylor Stakes.

Sales stakes coming up

Baker also is looking forward to Sept. 6, yearling sales stakes day, with candidates for three of the six $125,000 races for horses who went through the ring at the local Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling sale.

Mesa Cielo is scheduled to represent the Baker barn in the 1 1/16 mile Elgin, the yearling sales stakes for colts and gelding, 3 and up.

Fastin Bear is on tap for the six-furlong Kenora, for 3-year-olds and upward of either gender.

Peak Choice is heading for the $125,000 Muskoka, the seven-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies.

Mesa Cielo last saw action here on July 14, when he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 for a 8 1/2-length victory in a 1 1/16-mile race for $40,000 claiming nonwinners of two.

“I put a set of blinkers on him that Wednesday night, and he won by a pole,” said Baker.

“I thought that if I ran him back right away he’d bounce to the moon, so I decided to keep him for this.

“If he runs back to that last race, I think he’ll be super-tough.”

Mesa Cielo remained with his owner, Dick Bonnycastle’s Harlequin Ranches, after failing to attract his reserve price of $82,000 at the local select yearling sale.

Fastin Bear, a $95,000 buy at the select sale for Bear Stable, captured the seven-furlong Simcoe, the yearling sales stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings, here last September.

Although he won the five-furlong allowance prep for the Woodstock Stakes here on the first weekend of the meeting, Fastin Bear has been blanked in three subsequent starts.

Fastin Bear is heading into the Kenora off a fourth-place finish for the $62,500 claiming price in a second-level allowance/optional claiming race over 6 1/2 furlongs here July 31..

Peak Choice would be making her second lifetime start in the Muskoka.

Purchased for $32,000 from the select sale for owners Jim and Susan Hill, Peak Choice was beaten three lengths as the sixth-place finisher at 5 1/2 furlongs in Ontario-sired maiden company here Aug. 6.

Armata penalty altered

Trainer Ross Armata will be on the sidelines until Sept. 2 while serving the balance of a 10-day suspension imposed by the Ontario Racing Commission at an appeal hearing on Tuesday.

Armata initially had faced a 20-day suspension and a $1,500 fine after the stewards ruled that he had failed to comply with a vehicle search on June 17 after being directed to do so by racing commission investigators.

The commission stayed 10 days of the suspension but upped the fine to $2,000 and Armata will be on probation until next Aug. 24.

Armata’s exemplary record and cooperation with commission investigators were cited as factors in the reduction of his penalty.

* The Woodbine Entertainment Group and Sudbury Downs, a Standardbred racetrack in Northern Ontario, have forged an agreement to make HorsePlayer Interactive, Woodbine’s on-line account-wagering platform, available to customers in the Kenora, Rainy River and Thunder Bay districts in Northwestern Ontario.