04/12/2007 11:00PM

Lynch assembles formidable stable


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Brian Lynch is back and appears to be loaded for bear in his second season as a trainer of record for Stronach Stable here at Woodbine.

Lynch, who was based at Palm Meadows over the winter and tuned up several of his charges at Gulfstream Park, arrived Wednesday in concert with the first load of six horses from the Florida training center.

Another 20 horses checked in Friday from Florida, and 20 2-year-olds from Adena Springs South will arrive in Ontario next week.

Once the pecking order has been established, the aim is for Lynch to have 40 horses here, evenly split between 2-year-olds and older runners.

"Hopefully, we can get some 2-year-olds going a little earlier this year," Lynch said.

In the meantime, Lynch's first starter at the meeting will be Spanish Lullaby, a 4-year-old who will be making her local bow in Sunday's Whimsical Stakes.

The Whimsical, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $125,000.

Spanish Lullaby formerly was trained by Justin Nixon, another Team Stronach conditioner.

Spanish Melody has not started since Sept. 9, when she won the $60,000 T.J. Malley, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint at Monmouth Park.

"Her form certainly doesn't look too bad," Lynch said. "She's been with me in Florida; we gave her the winter off. She's doing really well."

The second wave of Lynch's Florida shippers included High Act and Mountain Wolf, who both have the look of serious contenders for this year's $1 million Queen's Plate on June 24.

After running second in his debut at six furlongs here last November, High Act went south and graduated over seven furlongs at Calder.

High Act has started twice this year, both in 1 1/8-mile entry-level allowance races at Keeneland, finishing a close fourth on each occasion.

Chelokee, For You Reppo, and Sightseeing, the first three finishers from High Act's last start on March 3, all came back to perform creditably in Kentucky Derby preps.

"The plan is to run him here in another a-other-than, and then in the Marine," Lynch said.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Marine, a 1 1/16-mile race here May 19, was won last year by Malakoff, who went on to finish third in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate for Lynch and Stronach Stable.

Mountain Wolf ended fifth when debuting over seven furlongs at Gulfstream this January and returned almost six weeks later for another fifth-place finish over 1 1/8 miles of turf.

In his last start, which came in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special at Gulfstream on March 31, Mountain Wolf finished first but was disqualified and placed third for causing interference in the stretch run.

"He'll run in a maiden, and then in the Plate Trial," Lynch said.

The $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run June 3.

Lynch also has high hopes for Ghetto Superstar and Song Shan, who both are unraced Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Ghetto Superstar is slated to make his first start here in a seven-furlong maiden race and remains Queen's Plate eligible.

"I don't know if I can make the Plate with him," Lynch said.

Song Shan, out of Primal Force, is a half-brother to the likes of Awesome Again and Macho Uno.

"He's ready to run," Lynch said.

Lynch tabs Silk Candy, who is by Langfuhr out of Astrapi, as his top 3-year-old filly prospect.

"She hasn't run yet either," said Lynch, noting that Silk Candy is nominated to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies on June 10. "She's a half-sister to Sugar Swirl."

The 4-year-old Sugar Swirl captured the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth Stakes here at 2 and won a third-level allowance at Gulfstream this winter.

Lynch's older division includes Royal Challenger, an Ontario-bred 4-year-old colt who won the $500,000 Breeders' over 1 1/2 miles of turf here last year, and Powerful Touch, a Kentucky-bred 7-year-old gelding who has won 7 of 16 career starts.

Royal Challenger's first major target is the Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward here May 21.

"We gave him some time off," said Lynch, who last saddled Royal Challenger for a second-place finish behind subsequent Canadian 3-year-old champion Shillelagh Slew in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby over 1 1/8 miles here last Oct. 1.

Powerful Touch is ready to run and could also wind up in the Eclipse, with an appearance in either the Eclipse prep or the Vigil among interim possibilities.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Vigil, a seven-furlong race for 4-year-olds and upward, will be run here April 28. The 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Vigil is scheduled for April 27.

Farther down the road, Lynch can look forward to the return of Malakoff, who finished first but was disqualified and placed fifth when last seen in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie last July.

An appeal into that result was heard by the Ontario Racing Commission this spring and their decision should be announced soon.

"He's just about to start back under tack," said Lynch, noting that Malakoff was sidelined by injury shortly after the Prince of Wales.

Woodbine staff promotions

Irwin Driedger has been promoted to director of racing surfaces and Mike McQuade has been promoted to supervisor of racing surfaces.

Driedger, a former rider and later secretary manager of the Jockey's Benefit Association of Canada, joined the Woodbine racing department as manager of Thoroughbred racing surfaces last year. He replaces Brian Jabelmann, who was fired by Woodbine during the off season.

Jabelmann recently accepted a position as track superintendent at Louisiana Downs, where the meeting begins May 4.