10/12/2010 12:33PM

Fifty Proof a surprise Canadian International runner

Michael Burns
Fifty Proof trains for the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – How would trainer Ian Black have reacted at the beginning of the season if he had been told that he would be sending out Fifty Proof as a legitimate contender in the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International?

“I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” Black said. “But maybe that’s just my optimistic nature.”

Black speaks with tongue in cheek, but there is no jest in stating that Fifty Proof will be in with a fighting chance as he makes just his second stakes appearance in Saturday’s Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

But, to begin at the beginning, it must be noted that Fifty Proof was bred by Bob Anderson and had come to Black as a 2-year-old to train with an eye toward a private sale.

Fifty Proof caught the eye of David Willmot, master of Kinghaven Farm and chief executive officer of the Woodbine Entertainment Group. WEG board of directors members John Fielding and Ben Hutzel were enlisted as partners.

But despite his high-powered connections, there was no fanfare heralding Fifty Proof’s debut here on Aug. 13, 2009.

“He was backward,” Black said. “The first time I ran him, I didn’t have great expectations. He was a big, dumb horse and he ran that way.”

Fifty Proof finished eighth in that first start, which came over 6 1/2 furlongs of Polytrack, but then promptly won a maiden race and missed by a head in a first-level allowance.

Those races came on the turf in a maiden race at 1 1/16 miles and a first-level allowance race at 1 1/8 miles.

“It was a combination of turf and distance,” Black said. “I’m still not 100 percent sure, at this point, that he is not that much better on turf anyway.

Fifty Proof closed out his first campaign with a first-level allowance score over 1 1/16 miles on the main track before heading to nearby Kinghaven Farm for the winter.

Returning to action late this June, Fifty Proof finished second in a main-track sprint at his next condition and then stretched out to score over 1 1/16 miles of turf.

Fifty Proof had made all of his career starts in Ontario-sired company and finally ventured into the open ranks to win a first-level allowance over 1 1/4 miles of turf.

That victory was not without controversy as it appeared that Fifty Proof’s starting stall had opened prior to the others, but an appeal was turned down by the Ontario Racing Commission.

Fifty Proof then took the shot that has landed him in the Canadian International as he stepped way up while attempting his longest distance to date in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

“He’d run a mile and a quarter, and done that well, although obviously not with the same quality of horse,” Black said. “But you never know, until you try.”

Fifty Proof tried, and then some, as he made almost all the running under regular rider Justin Stein and was still fighting back when passed by eventual half-length winner Redwood.

“I thought he ran a great race and I would have to think he can move forward off it,” Black said. “He’s trained really well since then.”

And, as if the Canadian International was not already lucrative enough, Fifty Proof would be running for shares of a total purse of $2.4 million when the 20 percent Ontario-foaled bonus is added.

Rahy’s Attorney eyes Bunty Lawless

Black’s other stable stars are scheduled to see action in upcoming turf stakes, with Rahy’s Attorney on target for the Oct. 23 Bunty Lawless and Stormy Lord aiming for the Oct. 24 Mobil.

Rahy’s Attorney is a two-time winner of the $125,000 Bunty Lawless, a one-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.

Stormy Lord will be looking to become the first winner of the $100,000 Mobil, a 1 1/8-mile overnight stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds that would require a field of at least five to be carded.

Bear’s Peak wins maiden in Bull Page

Bear’s Peak boosted his stock in Monday’s $127,000 Bull Page, scoring his first win while making his second start in the six-furlong stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-old colts and geldings.

Owned by Danny Dion’s Bear Stable and trained by Reade Baker, Bear’s Peak had rallied from well back to finish fifth, beaten just a length, in his debut at five furlongs here Sept. 8 under Patrick Husbands.

“He came from last place and almost passed them all,” Dion said. “He ran a hell of a race, and I thought this one would set up perfectly for him.”

Dion was correct as Bear’s Peak stalked the pace under Husbands and prevailed by a neck in a stretch-long duel with Altius.

Bear’s Peak was a $60,000 purchase at the select local yearling sale for Dion, who is a student of pedigree and is directly involved with all of his purchases.

“I think he’s going to be a two-turn horse,” Dion said.

Bear’s Peak could get that chance to stretch out by meet’s end, but his next target will be the $125,000 Frost King, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds here Nov. 3.

Baker also sent out Quintana to finish third in the Bull Page, while Ralph Biamonte fielded Altius and fourth-place finisher Citius.

The Baker-Biamonte-Baker-Biamonte superfecta returned $408.15.

Beauregard makes Ontario debut

Jockey Shannon Beauregard has ridden in Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia but will be making her Ontario debut here Thursday when she climbs aboard Devil in Willie for trainer John MacKenzie in the seventh race.

Beauregard, a 28-year-old native of Montreal who began her riding career in 2002, has already had her best campaign to date as she rode 79 winners at the recently concluded Northlands Park meet to finish second in the standings.

Through her career, Beauregard has ridden the winners of 431 races, including 14 stakes, for earnings of more than $7.2 million.

Jockey agent Ron Burke will be representing Beauregard here.

Burke also represents Richard Dos Ramos and until recently had the book of Catherine O’Brien, who has traded in her jockey’s license and is working as an exercise rider.