08/02/2010 1:19PM

Free Fee Lady continues her ascent

Michael Burns
Free Fee Lady prevails in the Wonder Where Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Free Fee Lady has come a long way in a short time.

After debuting here May 22, Free Fee Lady recorded her second consecutive stakes win when making her fourth career start here in Sunday’s $250,800 Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race.

“I didn’t think it was her best race,” said Reade Baker, who trains Free Fee Lady for owner Dick Bonnycastle’s Harlequin Ranches.

“I think she bounced, but she still won,” added Baker, who watched Free Fee Lady score by a hard-fought neck under Emma-Jayne Wilson in the Wonder Where. “That’s something good horses are supposed to do.”

The Beyer Speed Figures would support Baker’s theory as Free Fee Lady earned a 92 when winning the Bison City and regressed to an 85 in the Wonder Where.

There were other factors in play, however, as Free Fee Lady was trying turf for the first time in her accelerated program.

“I knew the distance would be no problem, but the turnback in three weeks didn’t help,” Baker acknowledged. “She wasn’t as impressive as she was on the Polytrack. I think she won because she’s a pretty nice horse.

“But she needs some time now, and she deserves it.”

Free Fee Lady, an Alberta-bred, missed by a neck as the runner-up in her seven-furlong debut in “B” maiden company and then graduated smartly at the same distance at the top maiden level.

Stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the $250,000 Bison City, Free Fee Lady made short work of Embur’s Song, who was the prohibitive favorite off her third-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks.

The Bison City followed the Woodbine Oaks, and the Wonder Where was the finale of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies and mares.

Biofuel eyes Selene, Cotillion

Free Fee Lady has become Baker’s second major player in the 3-year-old filly division, joining the Kentucky-bred Biofuel.

Owned and bred by Brereton C. Jones, Biofuel won the six-furlong Star Shoot and 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette at this meeting before hitting the road.

In her last two starts, both in Grade 1 stakes company, Biofuel ran third in Belmont’s Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles and second in Saratoga’s Coaching Club American Oaks at 1 1/8 miles, with both races won by Devil May Care.

While Baker originally intended to send Biofuel back to Saratoga for the Aug. 21 Alabama, he is not that keen on returning if both Devil May Care and the multiple Grade 1 winner Blind Luck remain on schedule for that Grade 1, $250,000 race at 1 1/4 miles.

Instead, Baker will consider the Grade 2, $750,000 Cotillion over 1 1/16 miles at Philadelphia Park on Oct. 2 and the Grade 3, $250,000 Selene at the same distance here Sept. 22 as potential stakes targets for both Biofuel and Free Fee Lady, although it is unlikely that the two would meet.

Baker sent out Bear Now to win the Cotillion in 2007.

Sensational Slam doubles up

Sensational Slam was not the expected dunk shot here last Saturday but did manage to prevail by a head as the 7-20 favorite in the $151,600 Vandal Stakes.

Owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay and based at Saratoga with trainer Todd Pletcher, Sensational Slam journeyed here to win by a neck when debuting in the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon on July 3 and was doubling up in the six-furlong Vandal. Both stakes were restricted to Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

Sensational Slam, who first sold for $80,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale, fetched $240,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ open 2-year-old sale this March and has already recouped $180,000.

Pletcher has started seven horses at the meeting, all in stakes, and recorded four wins with the other pair coming courtesy of the 3-year-old Exhi.

Husbands, who has been aboard Sensational Slam for his two appearances, has won 11 stakes here this season, one behind Chantal Sutherland heading into the current week.

Smokey Fire heading to Vanderbilt

Smokey Fire, who defeated the favored Hollywood Hit and former Canadian Horse of the Year Fatal Bullet when making his seasonal bow in the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture on July 17, is slated to head to Saratoga for Sunday’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.

The Vanderbilt, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up that offers Grade 1 status and a purse of $250,000, would mark the Saratoga debut for trainer Sid Attard, who has no appropriate local options for Smokey Fire in the immediate future.

A homebred 5-year-old gelding who races for his owner Mel Lawson, Smokey Fire breezed five furlongs in 1:00 under exercise rider Andy Sykes here Sunday

Javier Castellano has the mount for the Vanderbilt.

Attard plans to be represented on the home front on the same day by Stunning Stag, who is heading for the Grade 3, $150,000 Seagram Cup after breezing six furlongs in 1:13 under Sykes on Sunday.

Stunning Stag, owned by the trainer’s wife, Janice Attard, would be shortening up to 1 1/16 miles off a fourth-place in the Grade 2 Dominion Day over 1 1/4 miles here July 1.

In his two previous starts at the meeting, Stunning Stag won the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Eclipse and then finished a strong second in the stakes itself at the same distance.

The 6-year-old gelding would have to be supplemented to the Seagram at a cost of $3,000.

Other Seagram Cup candidates who breezed over the long weekend included Sand Cove, who went five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Sunday and Pool Play who covered the same distance in 1:01.40 on Saturday.

Field Commission, who could go in either the Seagram Cup or Friday’s 6 1/2-furlong turf allowance prep for the Play the King, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60.

The Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $200,000, will be run Aug. 29.

◗ Sharp Secretary, one of the leading contenders for Saturday’s $150,000 Duchess Stakes, breezed four furlongs in 48.60 seconds here Monday under exercise rider/jockey Carl Defreitas. Lorne Richards, who trains Sharp Secretary, has enlisted Eurico Rosa da Silva to ride Sharp Secretary in the Duchess, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.