05/24/2007 11:00PM

Frostad sends two in Connaught Cup


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's Connaught Cup, the first turf stakes of the Woodbine meeting, did not come up particularly strong.

And that's just fine with trainer Mark Frostad, who will send out French Beret and Shoal Water in the Grade 3, $150,000 race for 4-year-olds and up.

Both French Beret, a 4-year-old gelding, and Shoal Water, a 7-year-old gelding, are Sam-Son Farm homebreds who will be making their second starts of the season in the 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup.

French Beret's opener came at Keeneland, where he finished sixth, beaten three lengths in a field of 11 in a second-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

"It was a funny pace, and that made it difficult to close," said Frostad. "But it was a good tightener, and he's been training well."

French Beret has won just 2 of 11 starts but has finished second or third on seven other occasions while banking $319,785.

"It's just the way it's worked out," said Frostad. "He's run in all those stakes races."

French Beret has started in seven stakes, and won the Toronto Cup over 1 1/8 miles last July. He also finished second in the Breeders' and Charlie Barley and third in the Cup and Saucer and Labeeb.

Shoal Water's seasonal debut was a third-place finish in the May 13 prep for the Connaught Cup, which was moved off the turf to a mile and 70 yards on the main track when the turf course was declared unfit.

"He ran on good race on the Poly," said Frostad. "He's a nice old horse."

Shoal Water will be seeking his first win since the Chinese Cultural Centre over 1 3/8 miles on turf here in July 2005.

He was off for almost two years after that race.

Sky Conqueror heading to Belmont

Sky Conqueror, who became a Grade 1 winner in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs last time out, had been nominated to the Connaught Cup but is scheduled to make his next appearance in Belmont's Grade 1 Manhattan on June 9 instead.

Darwin Banach, who trains Sky Conqueror for owner and breeder Bill Sorokolit, said Sky Conqueror also was nominated to the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen, a $2.4 million, 1o3/8-mile turf race at Japan's Hanshin Racecourse on June 24.

"We thought about it, but it just didn't make a lot of sense at this time of year," said Banach. "There are so many other nice races for him."

Meanwhile, Palace Pier, who finished eighth as the favorite in the 1o1/16-mile Selene here May 20, has not been ruled out of the June 10 Woodbine Oaks, Banach said.

"We came up with a little bit of a problem in that last race," he said. "I think we can still deal with it and make it to the Oaks.

"But it's going to be a day-to-day thing, and [we want to] make sure we're 100 percent going back in because we certainly don't want that kind of repeat performance."

The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks is a 1o1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Marchfield works; Plate Trial next

Marchfield breezed five furlongs in 1:00 under regular rider Patrick Husbands on the main track Friday and is scheduled to make his next start in next Sunday's 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial.

Mark Casse, who trains Marchfield, originally intended to skip the Plate Trial but was forced to reconsider when his plans fell through.

"I'd entered him in a two-other-than for Saturday, which would have given him four weeks until the Plate, but the race didn't go," said Casse.

Marchfield's work was in company with Porters Court, an unraced 3-year-old who was clocked in 1:00.60.

"Patrick said he worked tremendously," said Casse. "He broke off three or four lengths behind the other colt, caught him, and was up three-quarters in 1:13 and out seven-eighths in about 1:25."

Marchfield, runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity here last fall, won his maiden over 1 1/16 miles last time out and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

Husbands rode Markdale, a Queen's Plate contender trained by Eric Coatrieux, when that colt finished second in the seven-furlong Queenston here May 5, and had the tentative call on Markdale for the Plate Trial.

But with Marchfield redirected to the Plate Trial, Coatrieux was forced to hire a new rider and secured the services of Todd Kabel.

Brimo shows up and wins

Jockey Julia Brimo was late coming back to Woodbine this season but already has one winner from just two mounts. She is optimistic that business will begin picking up soon.

"It's coming," said Brimo, 31, who was the Sovereign Award winner as Canada's outstanding apprentice jockey after riding 75 winners in 2003. "I have some good-quality horses on the way."

Brimo spent the winter and spring with plenty of quality horses, as she galloped them for Casse in Ocala, Fla., until March, and then for Casse, Frostad, Roger Attfield, and Dallas Stewart at Turfway Park, Keeneland, and Churchill Downs.

"I learned a lot," said Brimo. "It was great."

Brimo was galloping Sealy Hill, a Woodbine Oaks candidate who is trained by Casse. Brimo stuck with Sealy Hill until the filly got to the Kentucky Oaks on May 4, then headed home and was back at Woodbine on May 8.

Brimo scored with her second mount, Feverish Dream ($31.50), here last Monday. Feverish Dream is trained by Malcolm Pierce. On Sunday she rides Bold Natasha, a contender in the fifth race, for trainer Audre Cappuccitti.