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Initforreal will be rolling late in Oaks
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Midway through her first campaign, Initforreal made three starts in the $32,000 to $40,000 claiming range.
On Sunday, Initforreal is in with a chance in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, the year's premier event for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.
"She's coming to the race in great order," said Arthur Silvera, who trains Initforreal for David Rowbotham and partners. "I always did like this filly. I was let down after her first few races."
Silvera blames himself for Initforreal's early struggles.
"I think I kind of messed up a little bit by sprinting her and asking her for speed," said Silvera. "I realized I was on the wrong path after her third race. The minute I started having the rider just leave her alone, and let her fall out and get into stride, her performance seemed to improve."
After finishing a closing fourth for $32,000, Initforrreal broke through with a 7 1/2-length win under regular rider Constant Montpellier in a $32,000 maiden claimer at seven furlongs.
Then, after finishing a close second when trying two turns for the first time in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles, Initforreal wound up her first campaign with a sixth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie.
Heading into the new year, Silvera had not seriously considered the 1o1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks as the focus of Initforreal's 3-year-old campaign.
His thoughts took a turn in that direction while Initforreal was spending her offseason in Florida.
"There was a very big change in her over the winter," said Silvera. "We gave her a couple of months off and she really blossomed; she put on some size. When we brought her in, she looked like a different horse.
"She really trained well in Ocala. I started thinking Oaks then; I told the owners to keep her nominated."
Silvera and Rowbotham mapped out a two-race schedule to get Initforreal to the Woodbine Oaks, and the filly tuned up with a fifth-place finish in the seven-furlong Fury here April 27.
Three weeks later, Initforreal stretched out to face open company in the Grade 3 Selene at 1 1/16 miles and closed strongly to finish a length back in third behind a pair of American-breds.
"She was in a position at the three-eighths pole where I thought she was going to be right there when I saw her start to rev up," said Silvera, who took the blinkers off Initforreal for the occasion.
"This filly always indicates to me that she doesn't get tired. Going a mile and an eighth, it's a good weapon to have in your holster."
Silvera sees the potential race shape of the Woodbine Oaks as being in Initforreal's favor.
"There's a good little mix of first-flight horses, mid-closers, and deep closers," said Silvera, who expects Inittforreal to be coming from well off the pace. "I'm hoping the first-flight horses go to war, and there's a collapse."
All systems go for Discreet Commander
Silvera and Montpellier also have a leading candidate for Sunday's $150,000 Victoria Park Stakes in Discreet Commander, a Kentucky-bred gelding who also runs for Rowbotham.
Discreet Commander, who registered a major upset when leading virtually throughout the 1 1/16-mile Display here last November, will be making his third start of this season in the Victoria Park, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.
After wintering in Florida, Discreet Commander was seventh when making his seasonal debut in the 1 1/16-mile Wando here April 25.
"He came back to the barn a sick horse," said Silvera. "He had a temperature for five days after that, and was congested badly. I put a line right through that race."
Discreet Commander rebounded with a more characteristic effort in the Grade 3 Marine at 1 1/16 miles here May 17, setting the pace before weakening slightly to finish third.
"He got a lot more out of that race," said Silvera. "He's doing wonderfully, and the mile and an eighth is going to hit him right between the eyes."
The six-horse Victoria Park includes another speed-oriented pair in Secret Getaway and Catch Air, which makes Silvera particularly pleased with his outside post.
"This horse is pretty quick leaving the gate, but I don't want to go knocking heads if I don't have to," said Silvera. "He can take a spot and relax; that's no problem."
Anne's Purse headed to Damsel
Owner Jim De Angelis elected to take the high road with Anne's Purse, who had been under consideration for the Woodbine Oaks after running her record to 2 for 2 in the seven-furlong Lady Angela here Mayo24.
"I love the animals," said De Angelis, as he watched Anne's Purse breeze on the turf training track for the first time here Friday morning. "I don't want to mistreat her."
With regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons, Anne's Purse was clocked in 50.20 seconds.
Trainer Earl Barnett, who also believes skipping the Woodbine Oaks will be in Anne's Purse's best long-term interests, tried the Ontario-sired filly on the turf with an eye toward the $150,000 Ontario Damsel here July 6.
"I just wanted to get her around there, make her feel the grass and keep her happy," said Barnett.
The Ontario Damsel is a 6 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.
Mamma's Knight earns Plate start
Mamma's Knight, an impressive winner of an Ontario-sired first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here Wednesday night, is slated to make his next start in the $1 million Queen's Plate on June 22.
Sam DiPasquale, who trains Mamma's Knight for Mike Kowalski, had entered the horse in last Sunday's Plate Trial but scratched in favor of Wednesday's spot.
"I wanted a nice little confidence builder," said DiPasquale. "I was quite happy with the way he finished, and the way he galloped out.
"It was a learning experience for him, and he handled it perfectly."
Mamma's Knight started five times here at 2, winning his maiden at a mile and 70 yards in his third outing.
"Last November we decided to point him for the Plate, because of his size and the stamina he showed us," said DiPasquale, who kept Mamma's Knight in Ontario over the winter and legged him up at nearby Pine Valley Training Centre.
Danceroftherealm may face males
Danceroftherealm, winner of her last four starts, including three stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, could make her first appearance of this meeting in the Grade 3, $200,000 Highlander on June 22.
A 5-year-old homebred who is owned by Richard Lister and trained by Malcolm Pierce, Danceroftherealm would be facing males for the first time in the six-furlong Highlander.
"I don't really want to run her against the boys, but it might be what we have to do," said Pierce, who sent out Danceroftherealm to breeze four furlongs on 49.60 on the main track here Friday.
Danceroftherealm's long-term target here is the Grade 3, $150,000 Royal North, a six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares on Aug. 2.
Lawson named to board of directors
Jim Lawson, who is on the board of stewards of the Jockey Club of Canada, has been appointed to the Woodbine Entertainment Group's board of directors, the company announced Friday.
Jim Lawson is the son of Mel Lawson, a longtime participant in Ontario racing and breeding under the nom du course Jim Dandy Stable.