11/18/2009 1:00AM

Field Commission rewards faith

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Michael Burns
Field Commission, winner of the Grade 2 Nearctic in his last start on Oct. 17, will head Saturday's $150,000 Kennedy Road at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - When Field Commission finished a close fourth in his stakes debut here in last year's six-furlong Kennedy Road, it confirmed trainer Danny Vella's belief that the colt could compete with the best in his division.

Heading into Saturday's renewal of the $150,000 Kennedy Road, Field Commission has more than lived up those expectations as a graded stakes winner on both turf and Polytrack.

"Age has done well for him," said Vella, who also owns Field Commission in partnership with Ed Seltzer. "He's matured a lot over the last 12 months. He's just a bigger, stronger horse."

Field Commission began his current campaign with a close third-place finish in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier and then upset the Grade 3 Vigil at seven furlongs.

The Ontario-bred went on to finish second in the Grade 3 Highlander over six furlongs on turf and the Grade 3 Play the King at seven furlongs on the same surface.

Most recently, Field Commission moved to the top of the class with a 1 1/2-length score in the Grade 2 Nearctic over six furlongs on turf here Oct. 17, collecting a $45,000 Ontario-bred bonus in addition to the regular $300,000 winner's share.

"I believe he's the best sprinter in Canada," Vella said. "The biggest difference this year is that he has a better turn of foot. Last year, he had one very strong run. Now, his acceleration is super. He can make up a lot more ground in a lot less time."

In that light, Vella is not overly concerned that Field Commission is traveling six furlongs and has a shorter stretch to work with for the Kennedy Road.

"As a come-from-behind sprinter, I think you're a bit vulnerable at seven furlongs to a horse getting loose on a slow pace," he said. "Actually, I think he kicks better at six furlongs."

Field Commission, who breezed four furlongs in 47.60 seconds here Monday, will have a new partner for the Kennedy Road in jockey Jim McAleney.

"He's an easy horse to ride," Vella said. "You just sit on him and move."

Following the Kennedy Road, Field Commission will be moving to Seltzer's Solera Farm in Florida where he will get a break before gearing up for his 2010 campaign.

"If all's well, his curriculum will be the same races as this year," Vela said. "When you can sprint well on turf and Polytrack, there's not any reason to go elsewhere. The money here's so good."

Korvette Kid, Verdana Bold done for year

Two other stakes-caliber runners in the Vella barn have had their seasons come to a premature end and also will winter in Florida.

Korvette Kid, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old who finished a close second in the Grade 3 Grey here Oct. 11, had been scheduled to conclude his campaign in the Dec. 5 Display but was injured during a routine workout.

"It was an easy breeze, just an excuse to give him a few days off and freshen up for the Display," Vella said. "He must have taken a bad step. He's got a couple of screws in his leg. He should be okay to travel at the end of the meet."

All being well, Korvette Kid should resurface here early next summer.

"We're not going to rush him," Vella said. "I think he's a top-level turf horse."

Korvette Kid won his debut over six furlongs on turf and finished sixth in the Grade 3 Summer at one mile in his only outings prior to the Grey.

Verdana Bold, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old who won two stakes and $290,900 last year, was blanked in five starts this year but did finish second in the Satin and Lace at Presque Isle Downs and third here in the Seaway. In her last race she was seventh of nine in the Ontario Fashion here Nov. 1.

"We weren't pleased with her last race," said Vella. "She's already gone to the farm. We may run her in some of those five-furlong turf races at Gulfstream or Tampa. Then we'll decide whether we want to bring her back here next year or retire her."

Montpellier retires as jockey

Constant Montpellier was making the rounds here Wednesday morning, saying his goodbyes after deciding to end a riding career that began in 1991.

Montpellier, who rode for the last time on Sept. 26, suffered a separated shoulder in a pre-race incident the following afternoon. Shortly thereafter, he decided to hang up his tack.

"I just wasn't enjoying it any more," Montpellier said. "When you're not really into it, now was a good time to do it."

Montpellier, 48, rode a record 142 winners at the 1993 Fort Erie meeting and was a Sovereign Award winner as outstanding apprentice that year.

Since relocating to Woodbine in 1994, Montpellier has been associated with champions Win City, Gandria, and Lady Shari. Win City and Gandria both captured Fort Erie's Prince of Wales Stakes.

Montpellier's career featured 1,244 wins, with 53 of those coming in stakes. He added 1,408 seconds and 1,322 thirds from 10,084 mounts which earned $43,560,125.

A native of Dorion, Quebec, Montpellier has purchased a home and will be returning to that area at the end of the month. He plans to devote much of his time to speedskating.

"It's a hobby and a passion," Montpellier said.

Taking up the sport just three years ago, Montpellier already has made a name for himself on the top circuits.

"I've skated my whole life, but it was difficult switching from hockey skates," said Montpellier, who just returned from a meet in Milwaukee.

Simmard works for River City Handicap

Simmard, winner of the Chief Bearhart here in his last start, breezed six furlongs in 1:13.80 on Wednesday.

Trainer Roger Attfield, who had just checked into his Florida home and will be setting up shop at his usual Payson Park base, said Simmard is being pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27.

The River City, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, also is a target for locally based Rahy's Attorney and Jambalaya.