12/03/2008 12:00AM

Fehr rebuilds public stable


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - It's fair to say that the current Woodbine meeting has had more than its share of ups and downs for trainer Alec Fehr.

Fehr, 41, began the season with seemingly solid Queen's Plate prospects in Niagara Thunder and Sebastian's Song, both owned by Centennial Farms (Niagara) Inc.

But Niagara Thunder was sidelined by an ankle injury, and Sebastian's Song, while he did make the Queen's Plate, failed to stay the trip.

Then, this past summer, Fehr and Centennial Farms went their separate ways.

"It was a bit disappointing," said Fehr. "They were looking more toward a private trainer who would be focused on their farm and their horses. I didn't want to go that route. I wanted to stay a public trainer."

Fehr has regrouped over the last couple of months, claiming a handful of horses for owner Terry Hamilton.

And, Fehr will be looking to end the season on a high note when he sends out Flying Brigade in Saturday's $125,000 Display and Dubai Gold in Sunday's $125,000 Valedictory.

The Display is a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds, while the Valedictory, the longest stakes race of the meeting, goes at 1 3/4 miles for 3-year-olds and upward.

Flying Brigade, a 2-year-old colt who races for Richard Hogan's Ballylynch Stable, graduated at seven furlongs in his third career start here Sept. 21 but then finished 11th in the Cup and Saucer at 1 1/16 miles on soft turf.

Back on the main track for his latest, Flying Brigade ended fifth of six but was beaten just 4 3/4 lengths in the Coronation Futurity under jockey Jono Jones.

"Jono came back and said he had good news and bad news," said Fehr. "The good news was, he will stay. But, he gets so intimidated. He was right on the rail, and wouldn't go past the horse in front of him. Our goal is to be a little wider, and give him clear running room."

Flying Brigade, an Ontario-bred, tuned up for the Display with five furlongs in 1:01.40 here last Sunday.

"He works with any horse," said Fehr. "He has a turn of foot that's very visible. But, he hasn't been able to do that consistently in the afternoon yet. He's a lot better horse than he's shown. I know that."

Dubai Gold, a 5-year-old gelding who was claimed for $50,000 at Gulfstream last January, won his local debut in a 1 1/16-mile, second-level optional $60,000 claimer on May 3.

Then, after a steady diet of minor awards with five third-place finishes and two fourths in his next seven starts, Dubai Gold got back on track in the 1 1/2-mile allowance prep for the Valedictory here Nov. 13.

With Tyler Pizarro in the irons for the first time, Dubai Gold stalked the front-runners and rallied for a 2 1/2-length victory.

"He ran a really good race at a mile and a half," said Fehr. "He needed that extra distance. Tyler did a good job, keeping him close to a slow pace. I'm really happy with him going into the Valedictory. This has been his target."

Following the conclusion of the Woodbine meeting, Fehr will return to Palm Meadows, where he will have 10 horses over the offseason.

"They're mostly 2-year-olds turning 3, but Dubai Gold will be there," said Fehr.

Flying Brigade and Before the Prom also are scheduled to be part of that Florida contingent.

Before the Prom, a Florida-bred 2-year-old colt, was claimed for $62,500 from a second-place finish here Oct. 25.

In his first start for Fehr and Hamilton, Before the Prom again came from well back to be beaten just a half-length as the runner-up in a straight maiden race.

Fehr plans to enter Before the Prom in a seven-furlong maiden race here Sunday.

Casse takes two shots at Jackpot

Mark Casse, who sent out Turf War to finish in a dead heat for first place in last year's Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs, will take a double-barreled shot in Friday's Grade 3, $750,000 race.

Skipadate and Stimulus Plan, currently at Fair Grounds, will both be trying dirt for the first time in the Delta Jackpot, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.

Skipadate is coming off an 11th-place finish in the one-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. Stimulus Plan finished a close third in the Grade 3 Grey at 1 1/16 miles here in his last start.

Strong start for Casse in New Orleans

Casse is off to a good start at Fair Grounds, with four winners from his first eight starters heading into Thursday's card.

Casse, who had 10 winners from 50 starters at Fair Grounds last year, has clicked with Rose of Killarney ($8.20), Woodbourne ($11.60), and Dynamic Force ($7.60) on the turf and with first-time starter Deecity ($14.20) on the dirt.

Rose of Killarney and Woodbourne, both of whom raced at Woodbine this year, are slated to seek repeats on Saturday's program.

Rose of Killarney, a Kentucky-bred, has been entered in the $60,000 Pago Hop, a turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies at about one mile.

Woodbourne, an Ontario-bred, is entered in a second-level optional $40,000 claiming race at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf.