08/08/2006 11:00PM

Lynch gets 'Royal' treatment

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Royal Challenger wins the Breeders' in his first race on the grass.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - With Malakoff on the sidelines, his stablemate Royal Challenger picked up the baton and carried it to victory for Stronach Stable and trainer Brian Lynch in last Sunday's $500,000 Breeders' Stakes here at Woodbine.

The Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile turf race that was the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, was Royal Challenger's first stakes win and the biggest win to date for Lynch, who took over as Stronach Stable's main man here this spring after running the show for absentee trainer of record Bobby Frankel last year.

Lynch briefly thought he had recorded his first $500,000 win in Fort Erie's Prince of Wales Stakes, on July 16. But Malakoff, who had finished first there, was disqualified and placed fifth, a decision that has been appealed to the Ontario Racing Commission.

Royal Challenger had finished fourth but was moved up to third making his stakes debut in the Prince of Wales, and he was trying turf for the first time in the Breeders'.

"I wasn't overly surprised he ran so well on the turf," said Lynch, who had been pleased with Royal Challenger's breeze on the main turf course here a week before the Breeders'. "And, I wasn't surprised he got the distance the way he did."

Royal Challenger, unplaced in Florida in his first two career starts this past winter, came to hand at Woodbine this spring while putting together back-to-back wins in a seven-furlong maiden special and a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles.

While he had raced on the pace in those victories, Royal Challenger altered his running style under new rider Patrick Husbands with closing efforts in the Prince of Wales and the Breeders'.

"He seems comfortable with that now," said Lynch, adding that Royal Challenger will get a brief freshening while his future course is plotted.

"He'll go up to the farm, and we'll give him about 10 days off, let him get a little sun and some green grass," said Lynch. "Then, we'll bring him in and think about what we're going to do next with him."

One possibility for Royal Challenger is the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac, a 1 3/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds at Saratoga on Sept. 3.

Jambalaya, trained by Catherine Day Phillips, followed up his Breeders' victory last year with a score in the Saranac.

Pleasant surprise from Hide and Chic

Hide and Chic not only was trying the grass for the first time but also was making her first start in more than eight months when she captured Monday's Grade 3, $165,400 Royal North for trainer Malcolm Pierce.

A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly owned by Live Oak Plantation, Hide and Chic had finished second in Saratoga's Grade 1 Test last summer but remained eligible for a third-level allowance when she was sent here to Pierce in mid-June.

"It was a bit of a surprise," said Pierce, after watching Hide and Chic score at 48-1 under rider David Clark in the six-furlong Royal North. "But, the filly had run second in the Test Stakes, which I believe is one of the toughest races going, and she worked very, very well on the turf here one morning."

Still, the Royal North had not been part of the long-term plan for Hide and Chic.

"I didn't want to run her on the temporary track, and I thought it was a good time to try the turf," said Pierce.

"A few weeks ago, there was a three-other-than on the grass that I was going to try, and the race didn't fill. So, we ended up saying let's give it a try here, and we look like geniuses. We would have looked just as stupid if she'd have run around and been 10th. She had a perfect trip."

With no filly-mare turf sprint stakes left on the Woodbine schedule, Pierce is uncertain as to the next move with Hide and Chic.

"Maybe we'll try her on the Polytrack in the Seaway," said Pierce. "That gives us four weeks, and keeps her here."

The Grade 3, $150,000 Seaway, a seven-furlong race, will be run Sept. 9 on the Polytrack synthetic surface that is replacing the main dirt track here.

Tiller barn thriving on inner track

Trainer Bob Tiller took care of the rest of the weekend stakes here, sending out Dave the Knave to win Sunday's $125,400 Shepperton after watching Midnight Shadow capture Saturday's $125,000 Nandi.

Tiller now has won five stakes races over the inner track, which opened July 8, and added another with Top Ten List in Fort Erie's Rainbow Connection on July 23.

Spread the News, who gave Tiller his first stakes win of the season in the five-furlong Clarendon on July 8, will be looking to keep the ball rolling in the five-furlong Vandal on Sunday.

Midnight Shadow, who became a stakes winner in the five-furlong Shady Well here July 16, is nominated to the five-furlong Ontario Debutante on Aug. 19.

Both Spread the News and Midnight Shadow are candidates for one of the six $125,000 yearling sales stakes here Sept. 4, with Spread the News eligible for the seven-furlong Simcoe for 2-year-old colts and geldings and Midnight Shadow for the seven-furlong Muskoka for 2-year-old fillies.

Dave the Knave, also a local yearling sales purchase, could run in either the Kenora, a six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds and upward, or the Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for colts and geldings 3 and up.

Dave the Knave's Shepperton win came at 7 1/2 furlongs.

"I was worried about him, being such a big horse, with the turns," said Tiller. "Once he got around the first turn, I knew he was okay. I'm very happy with him right now."

Are You Serious, Tiller's other inner-track stakes winner, took the 7 1/2-furlong Bold Venture on July 22 and also is a candidate for either the Kenora or the Elgin.