10/14/2009 11:00PM

Just as Well will try to show he's for real

Michael Burns
Just as Well escaped trouble when he was put up by DQ in the Northern Dancer.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Just as Well recorded the biggest win of his career when he was promoted to the top spot upon the disqualification of Marsh Side in the here Sept. 20.

And while the official outcome will remain in doubt and the purse in limbo until an appeal by Marsh Side's connections is heard, Just as Well be looking to prove his point when he returns in Saturday's Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International.

While Just as Well was not involved in the major skirmishing in the Northern Dancer, which took place toward the inside with about a furlong to run, the horse did not have an ideal trip when he was beaten a half-length under rider Julien Leparoux.

"Had everyone kept a straight course, who knows what would have happened?" said Jonathan Sheppard, owner and trainer of Just as Well. "In our case, Leparoux had sensed what was happening up ahead, and was blocked behind horses. He basically had to alter course, swung out slightly, and lost his momentum.

"When you have to do that late in a race, it's costly. It said something for the horse, that he was able to do that and finish like he did."

Just as Well, who had been based at Presque Isle Downs as part of a small group of Sheppard horses before his first trip here, returned to the Erie, Pa., track and was there for about a week before moving on to Sheppard's West Grove, Pa., farm.

During his two weeks there, Sheppard sent out Just as Well to work twice over his farm's figure-eight 1 3/4-mile turf course.

Although timing the workouts there is difficult because of the absence of poles, Sheppard has devised an unofficial method and caught Just as Well going five furlongs in about a minute there on Wednesday.

Eight days earlier, Sheppard timed Just as Well going five furlongs in 1:03.

Strawbridge has double shot

Just as Well, a 6-year-old horse, was given to Sheppard by his breeder and original owner, George Strawbridge Jr., three years ago when it appeared his future as a racehorse was not bright.

On Saturday, Just as Well will be looking to pull off a very lucrative double for his breeder.

Rainbow View, a homebred 3-year-old filly who is a half-sister to Just as Well, is the morning-line favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor, the 1 1/4-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares which will be run about 40 minutes before the Canadian International.

Trained in England by John Gosden, Rainbow View will be looking to use the E.P. Taylor as a springboard to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Princes Haya eyes next level

Earlier on the Northern Dancer Day program, the Sheppard-trained reigning female turf champion Forever Together was beaten a nose as the runner-up in the Grade 2 Canadian over 1 1/8 miles of turf.

Her conqueror there was Princess Haya, who traveled north from her Fair Hill, Md., base to register a 13-1 upset with jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard for the first time.

On Saturday, Princess Haya will be looking to take her game to an even higher level in the E.P. Taylor.

"She did well after her race," said Michael Matz, who trains Princess Haya for owner Eileen Hartis. "She's certainly improved in her last couple of races."

Princess Haya was making her graded stakes debut in the Canadian and has finished no worse than second in her seven starts this season.

And, the fact that the Taylor will be Princess Haya's first try beyond 1 1/8 miles is not a pressing concern for Matz.

"At this point, I don't think so," said Matz. "I spoke with Rafael Bejarano, and he didn't think it would be a problem."

Matz was not at Woodbine for the Canadian, sending his assistant Gillian Barnes, and is following that blueprint for the E.P. Taylor.

"I'm not going to change anything, and I'm hoping the outcome is the same," said Matz.

Bogue Chitto aimed high

Bogue Chitto, already a rags-to-riches story, will be looking to add his most sensational chapter yet when he starts in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic, a six-furlong turf race that will earn the winner a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

A 5-year-old gelding who is owned by Luis de Hechavarria and trained by Neil Howard, Bogue Chitto raced for claiming prices ranging from $30,000 to $40,000 in his first five career starts.

Then, after winning a first-level allowance in his first start outside the claiming ranks, Bogue Chitto rolled through his next two conditions.

Although his streak ended with a second-place finish behind the sensational Hollywood Hit here in the Sept. 30 King Corrie, Bogue Chitto certainly didn't lose any luster in the process.

"He really has trained really well since his last race," said Howard, who before the King Corrie had sent out Bogue Chitto for a successful turf debut at six furlongs under third-level allowance terms.

Gerry Olguin, who has ridden Bogue Chitto in each of his nine starts, will be in the irons for the Nearctic.

Two-hour telecast

The ESPN2 sports television network will be at Woodbine on Saturday to cover the Canadian International, E.P. Taylor and Nearctic.

The ESPN2 telecast will go from 4 to 6 p.m. and the live feed will be carried by TSN for Canadian viewers.

Host Joe Tessitore will be joined by analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey, reporters Jeannine Edwards and Jay Privman, and handicapper Hank Goldberg.

* Jennifer Morrison, Woodbine's oddsmaker and a contributor to Daily Racing Form, will host a Canadian International Day handicapping seminar beginning at 11 a.m. on the third floor of the grandstand.