Updated on 09/18/2011 1:27AM

Inner track opens with clockings faster than par

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Spread the News wins his stakes debut in Saturday's feature, the $150,400 Clarendon at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Saturday marked the first day of Thoroughbred racing over Woodbine's inner-dirt track, a surface normally used for harness racing.

Apprentice Emma-Jayne Wilson, Woodbine's leading rider, won the first race aboard Driving Ms Chelsea.

"She handled [the track] pretty good," Wilson said. "It took her about five or six strides before she got a handle on the [first] turn. It's just a matter of adapting."

Driving Ms Chelsea ran the 1 1/16-mile race for $10,000 claimer in a rapid 1:43.52, and the clockings on the seven-furlong inner track were generally faster than they would have been on the main track.

"It's a little quick in comparison to what everyone's used to, but I'm sure the guys at Woodbine will get that sorted out," Wilson said. The surface switch, she added, "is a big endeavor, and I'm sure there's going to be a little bit of fine-tuning involved."

The main track is currently being converted to a synthetic Polytrack surface. The construction is scheduled to be completed by late August or early September. Until then, Thoroughbred racing will be conducted over the inner track, which was used as an inner turf course prior to 1994. It is the same oval on which Secretariat made his final career start, when he won the 1973 Canadian International.

Spread the News wins Clarendon

Spread the News ($6.30) won his stakes debut in Saturday's feature, the $150,400 Clarendon, a five-furlong dash for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

With David Clark riding for trainer Bob Tiller, Spread the News dueled with Dafoe through splits of 22.10 and 44.97 seconds.

Mutakinmove made a strong bid along the rail in the stretch, but came up a neck short of the winner. Dafoe faded to third, and favored Seaside Links was a non-threatening fourth in the six-horse field.

"The old pro David Clark really changed this horse," said Tiller. "He broke right on the money, and that was the game plan.

Tiller said it will be important to be forwardly placed in five-furlong races over the inner track.

"You have to be in the top-three [early], or you're going to be in a little trouble."

Spread the News was timed in 57.25 seconds and earned $90,000 for the partnership of Tiller and Frank DiGiulio Jr.