05/30/2010 11:00PM

Grand Adventure sets sights on Woodbine Mile


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's Grade 3 Connaught Cup, the first turf stakes of the meeting, was shaping up as a hotly contested affair and did not disappoint. When the field of 10 crossed the finish line in the seven-furlong Connaught Cup, only 2 1/4 lengths separated the first- and sixth-place finishers, but the clear winner was Grand Adventure, who scored by a length under Patrick Husbands.

"He sat back pretty nicely, and he was drawing away at the end," said Mark Frostad, who trains the homebred Grand Adventure for Sam-Son Farm.

Frostad also noted that Grand Adventure's clocking of 1:19.83 wasn't far off the track record of 1:19.38 set by Soaring Free, the Sam-Son homebred who established that mark in the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes in 2004.

Soaring Free won the Woodbine Mile and went on to be Canada's Horse of the Year that season.

Frostad, while not about to make comparisons, can foresee a Woodbine Mile in Grand Adventure's future.

"He won at a mile as a 2-year-old, and I wouldn't see why he wouldn't handle it now, especially with the way he ran the other day," he said.

The Woodbine Mile will not be run until Sept. 19, however, and Frostad's immediate decision will be whether to bring back Grand Adventure in the $300,000 King Edward here June 27 or the $200,000 Highlander on July 4. Both the King Edward and the Highlander are Grade 2 turf races.

Field Commission impresses

Field Commission, last year's champion sprinter in Canada, was one of several horses who ran nobly in defeat in the $158,900 Connaught Cup.

With Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons for the first time, Field Commission took home second money, a neck before third-place finisher Jungle Wave.

"He didn't have the best of trips," said Danny Vella, who trains Field Commission and is a minority owner in partnership with Ed Seltzer. "Turning for home he was on the inside -- where else are you going to be after breaking from the 3-hole? They bunched up, he waited, and waited and waiting, and when he finally got out, he came flying the last part."

Vella also will be looking at either the King Edward or Highlander for Field Commission's next appearance.

Exhi pulls away in Marine victory

Exhi, shipping in from Churchill Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher, proved too much for the locals here in last Saturday's $159,300 Marine Stakes.

With Robby Albarado in the irons, Exhi tracked an unexpectedly slow pace set by Essence Hit Man and then took command through the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths.

Exhi, a Kentucky-bred colt, was recording his third consecutive win and maintaining a perfect record on three starts on synthetic surfaces while earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

The colt had become a stakes winner in the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway at Turfway Park and then captured the Grade 2 Lexington over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland.

Hotep, who rallied late to take the place away from Essence Hit Man, enhanced his credentials for the Queen's Plate.

A Sam-Son Farm homebred who is trained by Frostad and was ridden by Husbands, Hotep was coming into the Marine off a sharp score in the 1 1/16-mile Wando here May 8.

"I thought he ran a great race," Frostad said of Hotep's Marine effort. "He was sitting off a slow pace, which I think caught a lot of us by surprise, but Patrick got him to relax nicely.

"I thought he closed well. That will set us up for the Plate."

Giant's Tomb, another Sam-Son homebred trained by Frostad, also had been entered in the Marine but was scratched and will await the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 13.

"It was just the way it shaped up," Frostad said. "He's a nice, relaxed horse. With Hotep, running three weeks out for the Plate might have been a bit much for him."

The $1 million Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run on July 4.

Essence Hit Man undecided on Plate

Essence Hit Man, who had impressed in winning the six-furlong Woodstock and seven-furlong Queenston in his two starts this spring, was trying two turns for the first time in the Marine and fell just a neck shy of holding for second under jockey Chantal Sutherland.

"I thought if he hadn't been running his third race in just over a month the Sam-Son horse wouldn't have caught him," said Audre Cappuccitti, who is the co-owner and breeder of Essence Hit Man in partnership with her husband, Gord. "I was thrilled with the way Chantal rode him, and he galloped out real good."

Cappuccitti added that Essence Hit Man had lost a front shoe during the race and had nicked himself but was none the worse for the experience.

But now, after agonizing over whether to run Essence Hit Man in the Marine or confine his activities to sprinting, Cappuccitti is facing a decision over whether to proceed to the Queen's Plate.

Essence Hit Man currently is not eligible for the Plate and would have to be supplemented at a cost of $25,000 (which includes the regular entry fee of $12,500) when entries are taken July 1.

"I've already had all kinds of people telling me I should run him, or I shouldn't run him," Cappuccitti said.

Resentless impresses in Sunday drill

Resentless gave her Woodbine Oaks prospects a boost here Sunday when breezing five furlongs in 1:00.40 under exercise rider Matt Douglas. Trainer Ian Howard caught the filly galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 and pulling up seven furlongs in 1:27.

"It was better than I could have hoped for," said Howard, who was breezing Resentless for the first time since she came down with a virus and miss 2 1/2 weeks of training after winning the seven-furlong Fury on May 1. "After that, we definitely have a chance to make the Oaks."

The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8 mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, will be run June 13.