08/04/2010 11:48AM

Howard building momentum at Woodbine

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Ian Howard went through a quiet period after winning with three of his first six starters at the meeting.

But Howard’s fortunes appear to be taking a turn for a better after he sent out Mitasunke to win first crack out at 60-1 here Monday, had a couple of live horses set to go Thursday, and had Bogue Chitto slated to make his seasonal bow in Friday’s $91,100 Play the King prep.

Bogue Chitto was a very pleasant surprise for the Howard stable in his last campaign, which started when he won his maiden with a $30,000 claiming price in May 2009.

After later marching through his first three allowance conditions, Bogue Chitto finished second in both the King Corrie over six furlongs of Polytrack and the Grade 2 Nearctic over six furlongs of turf.

As a retroactive bonus, Bogue Chitto became a stakes winner this spring after Hollywood Hit, who had finished first in the King Corrie but came back with a positive test, was disqualified following a hearing on March 27.

On Friday, Bogue Chitto will be racing over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf in the allowance prep for the Play the King, which will be run Aug. 29 over seven furlongs on the same surface and offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $200,000.

“If he runs his best race, he’ll have a shot,” said Howard, who did not get Bogue Chitto back at Woodbine until June after the gelding pulled a suspensory in a training mishap in Florida this winter.

Bogue Chitto has breezed five times, with his latest a bullet four furlongs in 47 seconds here last Friday.

“He breezed great the other day,” Howard said. “I wish he had another work; he may get a little bit tired on end.

“But, I don’t really have any other options, and he prefers the turf.”

Mitasunke, a Florida-bred 2-year-old filly who races for her breeders Phil and Karen Matthews, was completely overlooked by the wagering public when making his debut in a seven-furlong maiden race on the turf.

“I can’t say that I expected her to win, but I thought she’d run well and that she had a good chance to hit the board,” Howard said.

“She was training really well. She breezed well on Polytrack and grass. And every day we breezed her, she always finished strongly.

“We’d had some problems with her at the gate and schooled her a lot.”

The Grade 3, $200,000 Natalma, a one-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies here Sept. 18, is on Howard’s wish list for Mitasunke.

“As a 2-yer-old, she’s ready to go as far as you can get them to go,” Howard said.

Resentless nears return to races

Resentless, who has been off since finishing up the track in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks on June 13, is on the brink of returning to training for Howard and owner Donald Ross.

Bred in Ontario, Resentless had won the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie here last fall and returned with an impressive victory in the seven-furlong Fury on May 1.

But after falling ill with a stubborn virus, Resentless missed significant training time and came up short in the Woodbine Oaks.

“After the Oaks, she was sore all over, and we sent her for scintigraphy,” Howard said. “There was nothing dramatic, but she was bruised all over.

“She looks great – she put all the weight back on that she lost when she got sick. I think we can make it back for the fall.”

Isabella Bay, a 2-year-old filly who is a half-sister to Resentless, was pointing to Sunday’s Nandi Stakes but will not be participating because of an inflamed ligament.

“She’s a nice horse,” Howard said. “I think she wants to go long.”

Isabella Bay has seen action just once, finishing third in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies here May 30.

Manx Miss ships in from Ireland

Manx Miss checked in from Ireland early Wednesday morning, along with groom Gary Grogan, and has been entered in Saturday’s $150,000, seven-furlong Duchess for 3-year-old fillies.

A Kentucky-bred who is trained by Tommy Stack, Manx Miss has raced twice in England and once in Ireland, with all of her outings coming on turf. She has a second-place finish to show for her efforts.

Stack’s only previous starter here was Fearless Flyer, who won the Natalma in 2004.

Local trainer Michael Doyle will saddle Manx Miss for the Duchess, and jockey Emile Ramsammy, who rode Fearless Flyer in the Natalma, has the mount.

The field of eight for the Duchess also could include up to five shippers from south of the border, with the leading candidates being Red Hot Buddha, who is based at Churchill Downs with trainer Tom Amoss, and Chantilly Nayla, who is trained by Wayne Catalano at Arlington Park.

Red Hot Buddha is coming off back-to-back scores over the synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs, while Chantilly Nayla finished second in the Grade 2 Beaumont over about seven furlongs at Keeneland this spring.

Amoss has been successful with his last two Woodbine shippers, winning the 2003 Duchess with Finally Here and the 2006 Nijinsky with Rush Bay.

Patrick Husbands, who rode Finally Here, will do the honors aboard Red Hot Buddha.

Catalano captured the 2006 Summer Stakes with Dreaming of Anna, his second and most recent starter here.

Emma-Jayne Wilson has picked up the mount on Chantilly Naya.

Derwin’s Star, based at Fair Hills with trainer Steve Klesaris, and Kitty On A Tizzy, who is at Saratoga with Jim Bond, both shipped here to their win first-level allowance condition earlier at the meeting.

Simply Spiteful, who currently is at Saratoga with trainer Michael Trombetta, also has been entered there in Friday’s $70,000 Loudonville, an overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies.