09/05/2006 11:00PM

La Trillium on Polytrack, finally

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Le Cinquieme Essai, winning the Play the King, is nominated to the Sept. 17 Woodbine Mile.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ever since the project was announced this spring, trainer Paul Nielsen has been looking forward to running La Trillium over the Polytrack surface here at Woodbine.

On Saturday, Nielsen will get his wish when he sends out La Trillium for the Grade 3, $150,000 Seaway, a 6 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares.

"I think it's a pretty tough spot, personally, but we'll see," said Nielsen. "I had her on the Polytrack at Keeneland this spring, and she trained very well. And when I worked her over it here she handled it nicely. Hopefully, it will help her a little bit."

La Trillium, a 6-year-old, recorded her first work over the local Polytrack last Saturday, breezing four furlongs in 48.60 seconds.

"I thought she breezed really, really well on it," said Nielsen. "She finished terrific."

La Trillium, who has won 4 of 14 races but still is looking for her first stakes score, has competed in the last two editions of the Seaway, finishing third last year and fourth in 2004.

Those Seaways were conducted at the race's traditional distance of seven furlongs, but the race has been shortened this year while construction of the seven-furlong chute on the new surface is completed.

This year, La Trillium is winless in five starts. She has finished second on three occasions, including her latest, when she rallied from just off the pace competing under fourth-level allowance terms over five furlongs of the inner track.

"She kind of missed the break last time and got shuffled a little bit, but that might have done her a favor," said Nielsen. "She relaxed, and made a nice run. She looks terrific. She looks like a million bucks."

Le Cinquieme Essai not committed to Mile

Meanwhile, Nielsen is taking a wait-and-see approach with Le Cinquieme Essai, who is nominated to the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17.

"We're going to sit chilly and see who's coming," said Nielsen. "We're looking at other options, but I'd rather not travel."

Nielsen cited Belmont's Grade 2, $250,000 Kelso over a mile on turf on Sept. 30 and the Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 7 as Le Cinquieme Essai's alternatives.

"This course hurts him," said Nielsen. "He has so much speed, and there are all these closers."

Le Cinquieme Essai finished third in last year's Woodbine Mile, beaten 8 3/4 lengths by winner Leroidesanimaux, but just a length shy of runner-up Mobil.

Sky Classic likely next for Jambalaya

Jambalaya, another talented local turf performer, has been nominated to the Woodbine Mile but is not certain to participate.

"Nominating him to the Mile was more of an act of sheer frustration with the boggy turf courses he's been running on," said Catherine Day Phillips, who trains Jambalaya. "We'll keep an eye on the race, but the Sky Classic is probably where we're heading."

The Grade 2, $300,000 Sky Classic will be run over 1 3/8 miles on turf here Sept. 24 and is the final local stakes prep for the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International at 1 1/2 miles on turf here Oct. 22.

Jambalaya has raced 1 1/2 miles on turf in his last three starts, winning the Singspiel over firm going, but then finishing third in both the Northern Dancer and Nijinsky over soft and yielding surfaces.

Border Run euthanized after workout injury

The Day Phillips barn suffered a blow here Monday when Border Run, a promising 2-year-old owned by The Usual Suspects Racing Stable, broke down while breezing on the Polytrack surface and was euthanized.

"He looked extremely happy, was right on the bridle and moving confidently on it," said Day. "I was just checking my stopwatch and when I looked up, he was down at the quarter pole."

Day said Border Run had fractured a left hind cannon bone.

Border Run is the second horse to have suffered a fatal injury on the Polytrack surface, which opened for training on Aug. 27 and for racing on Aug. 30.

* Bob Duncan, former starter for the New York Racing Association, will be available for consultation at the seven-furlong chute on the main track from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

On Monday, Duncan will be at the training track starting gate from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. He then will host an information session, beginning at 10 a.m., which all horsemen are welcome to attend.

* Steven Crist, the chairman and publisher of Daily Racing Form, will be in town for a pair of one-hour handicapping seminars this weekend. Topics to be discussed will include Polytrack handicapping and the Woodbine Mile.

On Friday, Crist will be at the Greenwood teletheatre from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Crist will be joined by Woodbine analyst Ron Gierkink from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the second floor of the grandstand.

Following the session here, Crist will be available for a one-hour signing of his new book, "Exotic Betting."

* On Sunday, the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association will be hosting a hat giveaway for the first 2,000 fans beginning at 11:30 a.m. on the third floor of the grandstand.