09/18/2009 12:00AM

Jambalaya returns at Woodbine


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Jambalaya will start for the first time since his memorable victory in the 2007 Arlington Million on Friday at Woodbine in the second race, a classified allowance/optional claimer which is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Jambalaya, a 7-year-old trained by Catherine Day Phillips, captured the Breeders' Stakes and the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes at Saratoga as a 3-year-old in 2005. Jambalaya began to really blossom early in 2007 at Gulfstream, when he won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf over Honey Ryder and Einstein, and the Grade 3 Pan American Handicap. Jambalaya ran another corker that summer in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, defeating The Tin Man and the brilliant European runner Doctor Dino.

Day Phillips said several different physical problems kept Jambalaya away from the races.

"He had a deep bone bruise in his right front after the Arlington Million that curtailed us in the fall of 2007," Day Phillips recalled. "When we brought him back in 2008, he pulled his gluteal muscle in behind, and that knocked us out for a good chunk of the summer. We were pretty close to running him at Gulfstream this winter, but he went unsound on the opposite side of his original injury. We sent him to the farm, and things have gone relatively smoothly since he's been back in training."

Jambalaya has been working quickly on the dirt over the training track this summer. Day Phillips said she is unsure whether the gelding will need a race before getting back into the swing of things.

"I've never brought a horse back off a two-year layoff before," said Day Phillips. "From training in the morning, he's probably as fit as he can be. He looks really well physically. He's dappled and healthy, and he's carrying good weight. I think he should give a good account of himself. Hopefully, we'll get a good race into him, and built on it from there."

Rounding out the field are Royal Oath, Fifteen Love, Dark Islander, and Catch the Luck.

Royal Oath was a distant sixth in his first start off a 13-month layoff in an Aug. 1 optional claimer. He took the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes here in June of 2008 in his first North American race.

Fifteen Love is stretching out off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes.