10/26/2008 11:00PM

Lauro takes advantage of pace, weight


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Saturday's Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes looked like a showdown between Spice Route and Seaside Retreat, the second- and fourth-place finishers in the Grade 1 Canadian International. But it was the little-known German runner Lauro who sprung a 9-1 upset in the 1 3/8-mile event, under an astute ride from Tyler Pizarro.

There was no confirmed front-runner in the five-horse field, and Lauro inherited the lead and never looked back, scoring by a half-length over Seaside Retreat, while carrying 116 pounds.

"He's got such a big heart," said Pizarro, who was winning his third Woodbine stakes this month. "He didn't want anybody to go by him."

Lauro finished seventh when returning from a 1 1/2-year layoff in the $2 million International on Oct. 4.

Crista German, an assistant to trainer Andreas Wohler, said she wasn't surprised to see Lauro out there setting soft fractions of 26.85 seconds, 52.86, and 1:18.43 over a course labeled yielding in the Sky Classic.

"He was carrying a very low weight, and we thought it was better to go out in front," German said. "He set a nice, steady pace, and got better and better in the straight."

Lauro's previous victory came way back in May 2006, in a listed stakes in France. He finished seventh of 15 in the 2006 German Derby.

Lauro was stabled at Keeneland last spring before developing some problems with his pelvis and was forced to miss a stakes engagement there.

"He went back to Germany to have a break, and then we sent him back to America," German said.

German said Lauro could make his next start Nov. 8 at Aqueduct, in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap over 1 3/8 miles.

Wohler, who won the 2001 Arlington Million with Silvano, has sent out the runner-up in the Canadian International twice, in 2001 with Paolini and in 2004 with Simonas.

Utterly Cool dominates Cup and Saucer

Utterly Cool rebounded from his only loss, which came in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes, by capturing the $252,800 Cup and Saucer Stakes with utter ease Sunday.

Utterly Cool faced 10 maidens among his 11 opponents in the 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds and won by 10 1/4 lengths in his first start under Patrick Husbands.

Trainer Sid Attard was at a loss to explain Utterly Cool's flat fourth-place finish as the favorite in the Oct. 4 Summer.

"We don't know what happened," Attard said. "We scoped him after the race and he was fine. We're not blaming anybody. It's just one of those things."

Attard was non-committal about the next outing for Utterly Cool, who has made each of his four starts on the grass.

"We don't know what he can do on the Polytrack," Attard said. "We'll see how he comes back and go from there."

Just Rushing capped a lucrative day for Attard by capturing the $111,200 Labeeb Stakes, a one-mile turf race for older runners.

Just Rushing pressed a slow early pace along the inside before dropping back on the turn, and then re-rallied gamely in the stretch to score by a neck over Ice Bear.

Just Rushing took the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes in August, which was a prelude to a strong showing in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, where he finished third behind Rahy's Attorney and Ventura while leaving Kip Deville in his wake.

Congor Bay remains unbeaten

Trainer Mark Casse won three consecutive races on Sunday's card, most notably a 6 1/2-furlong allowance with the promising 2-year-old Congor Bay.

Congor Bay is a son of champion sprinter Speightstown and the Grade 3 stakes winner Pico Teneriffe, who is the dam of 2007 Breeders' Stakes winner Marchfield. The Kentucky-bred Congor Bay won by two lengths on Sunday, and has won his two starts by a combined 8 3/4 lengths.

"He's improving dramatically," said Husbands, who rode Congor. "I just hope that everything goes well with him over the winter. He's a classic horse for next year."

Cool Hand Luke heads allowance feature

Trainer Bob Tiller heated up last Wednesday night when he found the winner's circle twice, and he appears to have the one to beat in this Wednesday's feature, Cool Hand Luke.

Cool Hand Luke graduated in June while going nine furlongs. That happens to be the distance of Wednesday's allowance race, which is restricted to Ontario-sired runners that have not won three races. Cool Hand Luke registered a career-high 77 Beyer Speed Figure most recently when finishing a close third behind Mamma's Knight, who subsequently ran second in an open allowance.

Apalachee Storm could shake loose on the lead in the feature. He also earned a 77 Beyer in his last start, which was a victory in nonwinners-of-two Ontario-sired allowance company.

Rounding out the field are El Gran Jake, Money Spitter, and Full of Wisdom.

* The pick-six carryover into Wednesday is $11,228.