05/03/2009 11:00PM

Keogh's pair appears on path to the Oaks

Michael Burns
Woodsmoke wins Sunday's Fury by 2 1/4 lengths in her stakes debut.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodsmoke and her stablemate Politelyprecocious were traveling well under the radar when they finished first and third as an entry in a seven-furlong maiden race here April 19.

Now, both have emerged as candidates for the June 7 Woodbine Oaks after Woodsmoke upset Sunday's seven-furlong Fury, one day after Politelyprecocious graduated smartly at the same distance for trainer Mike Keogh.

Both Woodsmoke and Politelyprecocious are homebreds who race for Gustav Schickedanz. They could use the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette, an open race for 3-year-old fillies here May 17, as their final stepping-stones to the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks.

Woodsmoke, a daughter of Langfuhr, had made just the one start prior to the Fury but led throughout her stakes debut to score by 2 1/4 lengths under jockey Tyler Pizarro.

"We've always liked her, but you never know, stepping up into stakes company," Keogh said.

"She did win her maiden impressively, though."

Although Woodsmoke wintered well in South Carolina, her lack of experience remains a concern for Keogh, with the Woodbine Oaks less than five weeks away.

"She was in at the track last year," Keogh said. "I worked her a few times, but she kept coming up with shins.

"Now, she needs to run two turns before she runs in the Oaks. I wouldn't even have run her in the Fury, but she's on a crash course."

Politelyprecocious made three starts at 2, including a third-place finish in a mile and 70-yard maiden race and a fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth.

Keogh, however, was not thrilled with her training in Aiken during the off-season.

"Her works weren't very good; I thought maybe she hadn't trained on," Keogh said. "But once she got back here, she started training very well again."

Politelyprecocious, beaten two lengths by Woodsmoke in her seasonal bow, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 81 for her maiden win under jockey Constant Montpellier, 1 point better than Woodsmoke's for the Fury.

D. Flutie remains a mystery

D. Flutie, a 4-year-old gelding who is a full brother to Woodsmoke, remains eligible for the first allowance condition after finishing second over six furlongs here last Saturday.

Keogh and D. Flutie's regular rider, Emile Ramsammy, continue to be awed by the horse's training but perplexed by his afternoon performances.

"I still think he's a very good horse; he just works too good not to be," Keogh said. "I just have to get it out of him.

"One of these days, I might put him on a van and run him on the dirt in New York. I think he'd like Belmont."

In the meantime, D. Flutie could take a shot in the Grade 3 Vigil, a seven-furlong race for 4-year-olds and up here May 18.

El Brujo remains local Plate favorite

El Brujo solidified his status as the top locally based prospect for the June 21 Queen's Plate with a 1 1/4-length victory under jockey Patrick Husbands in Saturday's seven-furlong Queenston.

"Patrick had to use the horse a little earlier," trainer Malcolm Pierce said, noting that Husbands had to keep close tabs on front-runner Shut It Down after a very slow opening quarter of 23.81 seconds.

"He got a lot more out of it than his first race. He was tired after."

El Brujo opened his campaign with an 8 3/4-length romp after pressing a quick pace in the six-furlong Achievement here April 11.

"I was happy to see him relaxed on Saturday," Pierce said. "He's pretty headstrong out of the gate but he should rate. He's going to have to if he's going to go two turns."

El Brujo, who finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity last fall in his first attempt going long, is scheduled to return to that distance in the Plate Trial here Mayo31.

All remaining well, his next stop will be the $1 million, 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate.

"As long as we can stay on a high note - if we don't get sick, if we don't miss any training," Pierce said.

"It's a long seven weeks, but it's a good problem to have."

Shut It Down looks good in return

Shut It Down, racing for the first time in five months, ran well in defeat while ending 2 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Active Duty in the Queenston.

"I didn't do a whole lot to get him to that spot," said trainer Lorne Richards, who had Shut It Down in Ocala this winter but didn't start up until the second week of February.

"He did it pretty much on his own; I didn't work him too fast. I figured if he could run a good race off what I'd done with him, he'd still have a lot of upside to him. He's still got lots left in the tank."

Shut It Down, who is Ontario-sired, was an impressive winner of the restricted Frost King over seven furlongs here last November but then disappointed when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in the Kingarvie.

"I'd like to get him a nonwinners-of-three Ontario-sired allowance, going long," Richards said.

"It's not do or die for the Queen's Plate, by any means."

Southdale impresses in maiden win

Southdale, a Queen's Plate hopeful trained by Ian Black, lived up to his advance billing with a 5 1/4-length win under Emma-Jayne Wilson in a seven-furlong maiden race here Sunday.

"I was very happy and very impressed," Black said.

"We've got seven weeks to the Plate and four weeks to the Plate Trial. We'll have to decide over the next while what to do next.

"We'll see how he trains over the next while. We don't want to overrace him; the horse is extremely fit."

Southdale's Beyer Speed Figure was 88, while El Brujo, who had been given an 88 for the Achievement, dipped to 81 in the Queenston.

McAleney secures 2,000th victory

Jim McAleney notched his 2,000th career win in dramatic fashion here Sunday as he rallied Whiskeyontherocks to a last-jump dead heat with Tempesta di Neve in the afternoon's finale.

McAleney, 39, began his career at Edmonton's Northlands Park in 1986 before moving east and earning back-to-back Sovereign Awards as Canada's outstanding apprentice in 1987 and 1988.

Through Sunday, McAleney had ridden 14,538 mounts, with his win total supplemented by 1,908 second-place finishes and 1,793 thirds for total earnings of $67,826,185.

McAleney's 119 career stakes wins include the 2005 Woodbine Oaks with Gold Strike, and the 2001 Breeders' with Sweetest Thing.

* Wednesday night will mark the first live Woodbine telecast of the meeting on The Score, from 7 to 10 p.m. Coverage of the second through sixth races will be featured on the show hosted by Jim Bannon and Jeff Bratt, who will be joined by commentators Renee Kierans and Sandy Hawley.