09/07/2010 11:41AM

Liz Charalambous, Omar Moreno collect first career stakes victories

Michael Burns
Secret Wish, the first horse trainer Liz Charalambous has ever started in a stakes, wins Monday's Algoma at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Monday was a bad day to be a favorite in a yearling sales stakes here as all six, including three at odds-on, bit the dust.

It was a particularly good day to be trainer Liz Charalambous or apprentice rider Omar Moreno, however, as both recorded their first stakes victory.

The stakes were for horses who went through the ring at the local Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s yearling sale.

The success for Charalambous, who sent out Secret Wish in the $127,000 Algoma for fillies and mares, came with a kicker as the filly was her very first stakes entrant.

“I’m still in shock,” said Charalambous on Monday morning. “I was a little hesitant to run her."

Charalambous credits her husband, John Charalambous, for helping her make the decision to take the plunge with Secret Wish.

“I can’t say I was discouraged, but I hadn’t had a win with her,” said Charalambous, who took over as Secret Wish’s trainer last summer. “She has impeccable breeding, and she trains like a superstar. But, I couldn’t get what I wanted from her in a race.”

Charalambous trains Secret Wish for her cousin, Rob Cudney.

“I’m very happy for him,” she said. “He’ll keep her as a broodmare.”

Moreno, who is well on his way to a second straight Sovereign Award as outstanding apprentice, broke the stakes ice with Invitation Only in the $127,800 Simcoe for 2-year-old colts and geldings.

Invitation Only was the first stakes winner of the year for trainer Dave Cotey, who also owns the gelding in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith.

“He was coming into the race perfect,” said Cotey. “But he was coming into his last race perfect, too.”

Invitation Only had led by three lengths at the eighth pole in that six-furlong restricted maiden race but was beaten a half-length.

“The only thing that beat him last time was his greenness,” said Cotey. “He was literally galloping into the lane, but then he got to loafing.”

Invitation Only displayed that tendency again on Monday, as his lead dwindled in the final furlong.

“He’s a big, immature horse,” said Cotey. “He’s just coming into himself. Being a half-brother to Inish Glora, I think he’d stretch out.”
Inish Glora, based here with trainer Mac Benson, was Canada’s champion female turf runner in 2003 and 2004.

Tharrenos has both horses in photo finish

Trainer Bill Tharrenos, who had won his first stakes four weeks earlier when Tree Pose prevailed in the Nandi, watched that 2-year-old filly finish second as the 3-4 choice in the Muskoka.

The good news was that Tharrenos also trains Lucky Be Me, the first-place finisher, and owns her in partnership with Alan Alber.

“It was an exciting race,” said Tharrenos, who had watched his horses finish a nose apart and bring home a total of $100,000.

“They had an incredible work together last Sunday. They went head and head, and they came out of it incredibly well.

“I schooled them a couple of times coming into this race, too,” he added. “They were happy individuals. I’m just so pleased with both of them.”

Don’s Folly responds for Callaghan

Don’s Folly, who had won the Simcoe in 2007 when trained by Mike DePaulo, scored his first stakes win for Ian Black in Monday’s $125,800 Kenora.

Slade Callaghan, who had ridden Don’s Folly to his three earlier career victories, was reunited with the 5-year-old horse on Monday.

“Slade gave him a great ride,” said Black, who took over as Don’s Folly’s trainer in 2009.

Don’s Folly, who closed strongly to finish second in the five-furlong Debut here on opening day, had run on turf and gone long on Polytrack in the interim.

“We’d sort of went off course with him,” said Black. “I thought he’d maybe go two turns, and like turf. He’s a come-from-behind sprinter.”

Bunty Lawless could be next for Guipago

Guipago played the role of giant-killer in the $126,600 Halton, running down 1-2 favorite Society’s Chairman to thwart his bid for a third straight score in the one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Trained by Analisa Delmas, Guipago was coming off a closing sixth-place finish over the same distance and surface.

“I was hoping he’d improve off his last start,” said Delmas. “It looked like he was coming into his own.”

Guipago, a 4-year-old colt, had finished second here in last year’s Breeders’ over 1 1/2 miles of turf and then became a stakes winner on the same surface in the one-mile Vice Regent for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

“It’s looking like that might be his best distance,” said Delmas, who had watched Guipago disappoint in 1 1/8-mile and 1 1/2-mile turf races here earlier this year. He’s run some good races on the Polytrack, but I do think he prefers the turf.”

The $125,000 Bunty Lawless, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward on Oct. 23, could be a fall target.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this race,” said Delmas. “For now, we’ll just enjoy it.”

Blinkers make big difference for Mesa Cielo

Mesa Cielo also ambushed an odds-on choice in the 1 1/16 mile Elgin for 4-year-olds and upward with the 3-10 favorite Sand Cove winding up third in the field of just five.

Reade Baker, who trains Mesa Cielo for owner Dick Bonnycastle, had last sent out the gelding on July 14 and watched him romp to an 8 1/2- length victory in a $40,000 claiming race for nonwinners of two at the Elgin distance.

Baker’s decision to try blinkers on Mesa Cielo appears to be the key to his newfound status.

“He used to lug in all the time, and be fighting the jockey all the way,” said Baker. “I thought blinkers would make him speed-crazy; that’s why we didn’t put them on earlier. When I finally did, he ran his race, and got good numbers.”

Mesa Cielo had run a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 92 that day and Baker elected to give his horse some time off.

“I knew we’d have to do something real different or he’d bounce to the moon,” said Baker. “I didn’t know if he was eligible for the yearling sales stakes, but I looked it up and he was a buyback.”