06/12/2008 12:00AM

London Snow going good into Ballade


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - London Snow never got a chance to get into a groove in 2007.

But after opening up her current campaign with an impressive victory, she will be looking to get back to the stakes winner's circle in Saturday's six-furlong Ballade for Ontario-sired fillies and mares.

"This spring, she's been real healthy," said John Charalambous, who trains London Snow for Kirk Bradden Stables Inc. "She's holding her weight well."

Last spring London Snow finished a well-beaten fifth in her April 27 season bow. "She ran terrible," said Charalambous. "She wasn't right. We sent her to the farm, then brought her back in."

London Snow returned to action with a solid second-place finish in an open allowance race over one mile of turf on July 27. But soon after she was under the weather. "She got real sick; it was almost pneumonia," said Charalambous. "Fortunately, we caught in right away.

"Then I got her to a point where she was good again, and she tailed off on me."

After wintering in Ontario at Windhaven Farm, London Snow returned with a victory at 6 1/2 furlongs and under third-level allowance terms here May 17.

"With horses like that, you pretty well know where you're going to be running them," said Charalambous. "She had that condition left, we were watching for that race, and it came at a perfect time, with a month to this race."

While Charalambous has some concerns over the shorter distance of the Ballade, the presence of some serious speed and her outside draw in the field of eight are points in London Snow's favor.

"There are some fast horses, and hopefully she can get a trip like she did last time," said Charalambous. "She has a perfect post.

"And it's supposed to be a cool day, which would help her a lot."

Her rider, Steve Bahen, has been aboard for each of her 18 career starts.

No Queen's Plate for Giquere

Giquere, owned by Mario Forgione and trained by Mike DePaulo, is off the Queen's Plate trail. DePaulo wasn't happy with Giquere's six-furlong workout on Monday and tests were conducted.

"He's got a little bit of a blood issue right now, a high white cell count," said DePaulo.

Giquere, an impressive winner of his only start here at 2, wintered at Gulfstream with an eye toward the June 22 Queen's Plate and finished fourth in his only start there.

Back at Woodbine, Giquere finished second in the Wando and fourth in the Grade 3 Marine, both open stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Sealy Hill to Vanity at Hollywood Park?

Sealy Hill breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 here Thursday and could start next in Hollywood Park's Grade 1, $300,000 Vanity on July 5.

The Vanity would be Sealy Hill's first start on a synthetic surface since she won the 1 1/16-mile Bison City at Woodbine last July in a campaign that culminated with awards as Canada's Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old filly, and champion turf female.

"She's actually won just one of her five starts on turf but has won her last five starts on Polytrack," said Mark Casse, who trains Sealy Hill for owner and breeder Eugene Melnyk. "Her Ragozin numbers say she's a better horse on Polytrack."

Regular rider Patrick Husbands was aboard for Sealy Hill's work Wednesday. She worked in company with maiden stablemate Home in Two.

Marchfield readies for Singspiel

Casse also sent out Marchfield to breeze five furlongs in 1:02 under Husbands here Thursday in preparation for the $150,000 Singspiel, one of the supporting features on Queen's Plate Day.

The Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, will be run as a Grade 3 stakes for the first time.

Marchfield, winner of the Breeders' at 1 1/2 miles of turf here last August, returned with a fifth-place finish in a second-level allowance over 1o1/16 miles of turf at Keeneland on April 12. In his last start, on May 9, Marchfield won under similar terms at Churchill Downs.

Husbands was to begin serving a three-day suspension on Friday after dropping his appeal of an earlier ruling. The ban will continue Saturday and Wednesday, since Husbands was granted permission to ride in Sunday's Zadracarta Stakes.

Miner's Claim on the mend

Casse also had good news regarding Miner's Claim, who was scratched from the May 17 Marine after falling seriously ill with colic.

"He's just gone back to the farm," said Casse. "It didn't look like he was going to make it. He had two surgeries, but he battled back."

Miner's Claim faces a long period of recuperation. "He lost a lot of weight," said Casse. "Right now, we're just happy to have him back."

Stuck in Traffic wins turf debut

Stuck in Traffic ($4) won his turf debut under high weight of 126 pounds in Wednesday's $125,400 Bold Ruckus Stakes, a six-furlong event for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

Stuck in Traffic led throughout under David Clark. He opened up a clear lead in the stretch, then coasted home on top by 1 3/4 lengths over Ciano Nights, who came wide from last to beat Tacito for second.

New Jersey shipper D'Wild Affair faded to last in the six-horse field after pressing Stuck in Traffic for the first quarter.

It was the sixth stakes victory in 15 starts at the meeting for trainer Nick Gonzalez, who took Stuck in Traffic off the Queen's Plate trail after the colt finished second in the May 3 Queenston Stakes.

"We're so proud of this guy," said Gonzalez. "David said [Stuck in Traffic] didn't know where he was out there, and was lost the first quarter of a mile, which was probably good. It helped him to relax and slow it down. He said he was striding out really good. It looks like we've got a turf horse."

Stuck in Traffic covered the distance in 1:10.68. He earned $75,000 for MAD Racing Stable and Martha Gonzalez.

* The pick seven, which was hit for the first time at the meeting on Wednesday, returned $102,584. There were two winning tickets.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink