09/14/2012 1:17PM

Klein: There are reasons to like Kapitale at Woodbine in the Canadian

Four-Footed Fotos
Kapitale should be capable of staying within easy striking distance of the leaders in the Canadian.

Woodbine has a strong and competitive 11-race card on Sunday, including the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian, the Grade 3, $150,000 Ontario Derby, the Grade 1, $500,000 Northern Dancer, and the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile.

The recent track bias trends may have an influence on the outcome of these races.

A check of the four race cards run from Sept. 7 through Sept. 12 shows that only one route race on Polytrack was won by the first-call leader. Two of the 10 winners were third at that point, two were fourth, two were fifth, one was sixth, and two were seventh.

There were only two turf route races run during that time. One was won by the first-call leader, and the other was taken by the horse who was second at that point. That’s a very small sample, but deep closers are usually a bad idea in turf route races at most tracks, so I’ll continue to avoid them.

The fifth race is the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up, a 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Kapitale is a German filly who returned from a 10-month layoff while making her first U.S. start in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park. She broke alertly, was in contention on the rail during the early going, then was allowed to drop back to ninth in that 10-horse field. She was seventh in midstretch, then gained three positions and four lengths during the last furlong to finish fourth, beaten by 2 1/2 lengths. She had shown early and tactical speed in most of her six races in Germany and Italy, so she should be capable of enjoying a better trip while staying within easy striking distance of the leaders if she is asked to do so in this race. Factor in the likelihood of improvement in the second race of her form cycle, and the class drop, and she deserves the call. I’ll bet her to win, and I’ll key her on top in the exacta over Laughing, All Star Heart, Stars to Shine, and Barefoot Lady.

The 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3, $150,000 Ontario Derby is the seventh race.

Stealcase closed from sixth to finish a nonthreatening third behind Paynter two races ago in the Grade 1 Haskell. He showed more early speed last time in the Grade 1 Travers, then wilted and finished seventh. He should be more effective if he returns to the off-the-pace tactics he has used in most of his races. The class drop should make him very tough.

If an upset is in the cards, Gung Ho is an interesting possibility. He finished a solid third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, then regressed when he finished seventh of 13 as the favorite on turf in the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill. He took nearly three months off, then ran a dull race when he finished last of seven as the favorite in an ungraded turf stakes at Canterbury. The move to the grass doesn’t explain those subpar performances because he won a stakes race on turf in his second race on that surface.

Gung Ho has been on the sidelines for more than seven weeks since the Canterbury race, and if trainer Michael Maker has solved whatever issue Gung Ho might have been dealing with, Gung Ho will have a chance to either win or participate in the exotics at overlaid odds.

I’ll key Stealcase on top in the exacta over Gung Ho, Prospective (if he starts), Any Given Royal, and River Rush. I’ll also bet on my value play Gung Ho to win.

They return to turf one race later in the 1 1/2-mile, Grade 1, $500,000 Northern Dancer, for 3-year-olds and up.

Wigmore Hall won this race last year. He was too far back last time when he was last of 11 most of the way in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. He made a nice late gain from 10th in mid-stretch to finish seventh, 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner, but he was lucky to be able to rally along the inside in that race. He will be a serious threat, but I would rather go with a contender who can stay within a reasonable distance of the leaders during the early part of this race.

Musketier has the talent to be a factor against this type, but the last time he was in the front half of his field at the first call the fractions were very slow.

Al Khali finished third in the Grade 1 United Nations, and second in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. He figures to have better early position than the two contenders listed above, and his ability to make the first run at the leaders should be enough of an advantage to give him a good chance to beat them. I’ll bet Al Khali to win, and I’ll key him on top of Wigmore Hall, and Musketier.

The 10th race is the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile.

Wise Dan has never raced on grass at Woodbine, but he has been impressive while winning 2 of 3 starts on turf, and 4 of his last 5 races on all surfaces. His typical recent form would probably make him a comfortable winner in this spot.

Cityscape finished second as a 25-1 longshot in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, and would be a good candidate to complete this exacta if he runs as well in this race.

Worthadd finished fifth last year in the Group 1 Qatar Prix de la Foret, nearly 10 lengths behind Goldikova, who lost by a head.

Big Band Sound won the Grade 2 Play the King at Woodbine in his return from a two-month break, and earned a respectable 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

Hunters Bay fits here if you look past his seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Whitney.

I’ll bet Wise Dan to win, and I’ll key him on top of Cityscape, Worthadd, Big Band Sound, and Hunters Bay.