09/20/2010 12:09PM

Local longshots Woodbourne, Fifty Proof outrun their odds


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – While shippers from south of the border and across the ocean won the two Grade 1 turf stakes here at Woodbine on Sunday, a pair of unheralded local entrants came up with the races of their lives in the Woodbine Mile and Northern Dancer.

Woodbourne, who was claimed by Bob Tiller for $50,000 two starts back for The Very Dry Stable, was prominent throughout the $1 million Woodbine Mile and picked up $110,000 after winning a show photo as a 52-1 outsider.

Fifty Proof, who had been scratched from a second-level allowance race the previous weekend, almost took them all the way in the $750,000 Northern Dancer and finished a half-length short as the runner-up at almost 30-1 for trainer Ian Black and owners David Willmot, John Fielding, and Ben Hutzel.

Woodbourne, an Ontario-bred 6-year-old gelding who was coming off a neck runner-up finish to 2008 Woodbine Mile winner Rahy’s Attorney in the restricted With Approval here Sept. 19, was the last horse entered in this year’s Woodbine Mile on Thursday morning.

“I was looking at the race, and didn’t really think he belonged,” said Tiller. “But I kept going back to the point that the horse was doing so good.”

Woodbourne, beaten a total of 2 1/2 lengths under jockey Chantal Sutherland, now has more than earned his way out in his three starts for his new barn.

“I’d say we’d more than earned our way out on this guy,” said Tiller. “He gave us a thrill, which is what you look for in horse racing.

“I’m excited for the Very Dry people, and the people in my barn. Everybody’s worked hard on this horse.”

Woodbourne could get one more crack at one mile on turf here this year in the $100,000 Labeeb, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and upward on Oct. 31.

Fifty Proof was making his eighth career start and stakes debut while facing some proven graded stakes competitors under his regular rider Justin Stein in the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer.

An Ontario-sired 4-year-old gelding, Fifty Proof was coming off back-to-back wins with the latest coming under first-level allowance terms in a 1 1/4-mile turf race.

“In that mile and a quarter race, I didn’t really know what was behind him,” said Black, who had scratched Fifty Proof from the allowance last weekend when it became evident that the race would be coming off the grass and that the owners were interested in trying the Northern Dancer.

“I honestly didn’t know how good he was.”

Now that Fifty Proof has provided an encouraging response to that question, he probably will look to confirm that form in the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International at the same 1 1/2-mile turf distance here Oct. 16.

“That would be the obvious thing to look at,” said Black. “We’ll see how much tougher it’s going to be.”

E.P. Taylor next for Miss Keller

Miss Keller, an Irish-bred 4-year-old, delivered a win for the home team as she prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths in Sunday’s Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Owned by Three Chimneys LLC but trained here by Roger Attfield, Miss Keller continued a successful partnership with jockey Javier - as she recorded the biggest win of her career in the Grade 2, $300,400 turf race.

“She’s been on an upward swing, for the last six months,” said Attfield. “She has really changed dramatically in her attitude, and well-being. I really like this filly a lot.”

Attfield now will aim Miss Keller for the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares which is the supporting feature on the Canadian International Day program.

“I think the mile and a quarter won’t be a problem,” said Attfield.