09/20/2009 11:00PM

Locals deserve a long look

Email
Michael Burns
Rahy's Attorney seeks to become the first two-time Woodbine Mile winner.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - American runners have been dominant in the $1 million Woodbine Mile, finishing first in nine of the 12 runnings of the major prep for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile.

The New York-based Bribon will likely be favored in Sunday's running of the Grade 1 Mile, but the way shippers from south of the border have performed in stakes here this year, perhaps the home field advantage that the locals possess is reason enough to give them serious consideration on Sunday.

Only two American-based runners have won a stakes here this year on the grass. Rutherienne captured the Grade 2 Nassau in May, and Smart Enough led throughout the Grade 3 Highlander in June.

The racing has gotten tougher here in recent years, thanks mainly to the slots-fueled purses, which are among the highest on the continent, and shippers have found the waters to be a little deeper than in the past.

Rahy's Attorney registered a 12-1 upset in last year's Woodbine Mile, under an enterprising ride from Slade Callaghan, whose mount made an early inside move for the lead en route to a daylight score over the then California-based filly Ventura. Kip Deville, the 1-2 favorite from New York, was a surprisingly flat fifth in the eight-horse field.

Rahy's Attorney had never competed away from the cozy confines of Woodbine prior to the 2008 Mile, which he went into off a flat effort in a longer graded stakes. He will try to duplicate the pattern on Sunday following a fading sixth-place finish over 1 3/8 miles of good ground in the Sky Classic Stakes.

Trainer Ian Black said Rahy's Attorney simply didn't bring his "A" game to the Grade 2 Sky Classic, and is pleased with the gelding's current condition.

"He came out of the race fine," said Black. "He breezed as good as he's breezed all year the other day. He's in good order."

No horse has won the Mile twice, although Soaring Free prevailed in 2004, and finished a close second in 2003.

Jungle Wave and Field Commission ran one-two in the local prep for the Woodbine Mile, the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes.

Jungle Wave dueled through slow fractions in the seven-furlong Play the King en route to a three-quarter-length victory, in a time of 1:23.06 over the yielding ground. He earned a 99 Beyer Figure, and is now 3 for 4 since being claimed for $62,500 in the spring by trainer Sid Attard.

Field Commission was sandwiched between rivals early in the stretch in Play the King, while in the midst of his rally, and was arguably best in the race.

Field Commission's last 11 races all came under Tyler Pizarro, and they included four wins and a runner-up placing in the Grade 3 Highlander Stakes on turf. Pizarro has been replaced by the patient Julien Leparoux, but the colt might be at his best under a rider who knows him intimately.

Sterwins has been in solid form since his season opener, while competing at a variety of distances. A versatile closer, Sterwins could be handcuffed by the distance, which is shorter than his optimum.

Sand Cove has been competing almost exclusively in restricted stakes, and is being tested for class. He blew away a weak field earlier this month in the Elgin Stakes, for graduates of local yearling sales, and both of his turf tallies came in stakes for Ontario-sired stock.

Grand Adventure, the lone 3-year-old in the field, had been idle for 10 months when he polished off a mediocre field of optional claimers in a turf sprint Aug. 26.