10/29/2010 2:39PM

Labeeb distance a better fit for Woodbourne


ETOBICOKE, Ontario − Woodbourne will take another shot at becoming a stakes winner when he returns in Sunday’s $100,000 Labeeb at a mile on turf at Woodbine.

Since being claimed for $50,000 in July, Woodbourne has started in three stakes races, placing twice, including a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. He also was second to Rahy’s Attorney in the With Approval at 1 1/8 miles.

But Woodbourne flopped last time out in the Grade 1 Nearctic on Oct. 16, finishing 11th of 12, beaten 10 3/4 lengths, after stalking the pace over six furlongs of “good” turf.

“They were too fast and too good for him there,” trainer Bob Tiller said. “Plain and simple, sprinting is not his game. He should adjust very well to the mile coming off that race. But this sure isn’t an easy spot. There’s lots of talent in there.”

The Labeeb, an overnight turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up, attracted a competitive field of 13, including three shippers from south of the border.

Among the top invaders are Amazing Results and Tybalt, who finished 1-2 last time out in the Grade 3 Carey Memorial at a mile on turf at Hawthorne, and Nicanor, a full brother to Barbaro who has won four of his seven starts on the grass.

So Elite, one of two 3-year-olds in the field, also should be well backed off his victory in the Charlie Barley over one mile on turf here this summer. In his most recent start, he finished second to Stately Victor, the Blue Grass Stakes winner, here in the 1 1/8-mile Ontario Derby.

Mark Casse trains So Elite and also will send out Safety Zone, a 6-year-old gelding he reclaimed for $40,000 last time out.

Jimmy Simms will make just his second start since winning last year’s Labeeb, and in his last start he finished last in the Grade 2 King Edward on June 27.

“There’s just been nowhere to run him,” trainer Roger Attfield. “He has no conditions, and I didn’t want to run him again on soft turf. But, he’s doing great.”

Attfield said Jimmy Simms has not missed a beat in his training since the King Edward.

Moonlit Beauty back from layoff

Moonlit Beauty was on a roll this spring before her campaign was interrupted in June. On Sunday, she will be looking to pick up where she left off when she faces nine other fillies and mares in the $150,000 Ontario Fashion at six furlongs.

“The layoff during the summer has done her well,” said John LeBlanc, who trains Moonlit Beauty for her owner and breeder Bill Gierkink, father of Daily Racing Form reporter Ron Gierkink.

Moonlit Beauty’s absence, however, was not by choice. A 4-year-old, she had started her campaign in the restricted second-level allowance ranks and cleared that category when she stretched out to seven furlongs for her third start.

Moving to turf, Moonlit Beauty wired her next two races, winning by two lengths in an open second-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs and by 3 1/4 lengths in the seven-furlong Zadracarta for Ontario-foals on June 19. But a problem was detected a week after the Zadracarta.

“She had a minor strain, and we were forced to give her some time,” LeBlanc said. “It was good that we caught it very early so she could come back in the fall.”

Moonlit Beauty was on the shelf for six weeks before she resumed training and has been training solidly in preparation for her return.

“There have been no blips at all,” LeBlanc said. “I’m very pleased with her weight, and I’m very pleased with her breezes. I would have run her earlier, but the prep for this race didn’t go.”

LeBlanc said he isn’t concerned about Sunday’s return to the main track or the cutback in distance.

“Her form shows her better on turf, but I think she’s really been coming into herself,” he said. “In her earlier races this year on Polytrack, she was still growing. She had always been a finicky eater, but that has completely turned around.

“She’s put on a couple of hundred pounds this year between growing and putting weight on her frame,” he said. “I think she’s going to come out sharp. She’s turning back a little bit, and she has some speed, but she doesn’t have to be in front.”

Top sprinters in Kennedy Road prep*

Sunday’s card also includes the $91,100 allowance prep for the Kennedy Road, which will be run over the same six-furlong distance as that Grade 3, $150,000 stakes here Nov. 20.

The race has attracted most of the top sprinters on the grounds and is headed by Smokey Fire.

Local stakes winners Field Commission, Signature Red, and Bogue Chitto also are in the lineup, along with up-and-comer General Brock and invader Sneaking Uponyou.

The freshest horse in the field is Bogue Chitto, who will be making his fourth start of the season for trainer Ian Howard.

Bogue Chitto is coming off a disappointing effort in the Nearctic, in which he finished eighth in the field of 12; he was second to Field Commission in last year’s Nearctic.

In his race prior to the Nearctic, Bogue Chitto had shipped to Philadelphia and finished a close fifth in the five-furlong Turf Monster.

“His race in Philadelphia was good,” said Howard, who conditions the Florida-bred Bogue Chitto for owner/breeder Luis de Hechavarria.

“If he honestly didn’t like the ‘soft’ turf last time, which I think he didn’t, there’s no reason he can’t run well here.

“Physically, I think he’s as good as he was at this time last year. But as they get older, they can get a little cagey on you.

“And, this has been a consistently tough division. There’s nowhere to hide any more.”