05/13/2008 11:00PM

Marine has dual appeal


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $150,000 Marine, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds that will be renewed here Saturday, serves a dual purpose in the grand scheme of things here at Woodbine.

For American-breds, the Marine presents a rare local opportunity to run in a Grade 3 stakes here.

For Canadian-breds, the Marine can serve as an important stepping-stone to the $1 million Queen's Plate, a restricted 1 1/4-mile race here June 22.

Trainer Norm DeSouza be among those taking advantage of the Marine's open status when he sends out Mighty Vow.

Bred in Maryland, Mighty Vow finished fourth in his first start of the season here, the April 25 Wando, an overnight stakes at 1 1/16 miles that was added to the schedule this year.

"I was happy," said DeSouza, 52, who trains Mighty Vow for Camilla Farm. "The horses that finished ahead of him already had run.

"I'm looking forward to him doing better this time. He got a lot out of the race."

Mighty Vow started seven times as a 2-year-old, winning twice and finishing third on four occasions while experiencing more than his share of trouble.

"He was a little unfortunate," said DeSouza. "He didn't get the best of trips a few times."

Mighty Vow's misfortunes included the Grey, a 1 1/16-mile race in which he broke poorly and then lacked a clear path in the stretch run, and the 1 1/16-mile Display, in which he rallied six wide off a slow pace and was beaten just a head as the third-place finisher.

After the Display, Mighty Vow was sent to Florida and returned to DeSouza in February.

"I was looking to run him before the Wando, but there wasn't anything for him," said DeSouza, whose last stakes successes were with Heyahohowdy, winner of the La Prevoyante and Passing Mood here in 2002.

About to get started on grass

Bring on the turf.

The turf training track was open for the first time this season on Wednesday and the first turf race of the season is scheduled, to be run here Saturday.

Weather permitting, of course.

"We're about a week later than usual getting started," said Steve Lym, racing secretary and a director of racing here at Woodbine.

"It was a hard winter."

Lym hopes to implement the full turf schedule early next month, consisting of a pair of races Wednesdays and Fridays, one on Thursdays when that day is added beginning June 5, and three on Saturdays and Sundays.

He also is hoping to add some new elements to the turf program this year.

"We'll try to race some different-type allowance races, like maybe for horses that have never won on the turf," said Lym.

"And we'll look at starting a starter allowance endurance series, sometime in the summer, hopefully culminating in a 1 3/4-mile turf race."

Woodbine has never run a turf race beyond 1 1/2 miles, the course's circumference.

Attfield mixes it up

Meanwhile, 22 horses trained on the turf here Wednesday, and one of the first customers was trainer Roger Attfield.

One surprise in the Attfield lot was Not Bourbon, a Queen's Plate candidate who breezed five furlongs in 1:03 under regular rider Jono Jones in just the second turf workout of his career.

"I just wanted to give him a change of scenery," said Attfield, who trains Not Bourbon for owner/breeder Charles Fipke.

Not Bourbon, winner of the seven-furlong Queenston in his last start May 3, was a candidate for the Marine but will await the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial here June 1.

"I think it's too much for him to do the Queenston, the Marine, the Trial, and the Plate," said Attfield. "It's a pretty tight schedule to do that, but I might have tried it if he'd had a race around two turns last year."

Another interesting Attfield worker was Russian Rosie, an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly whom he trains for Three Chimneys LLC.

Jockey Emile Ramsammy was aboard Russian Rosie, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 and could make her local seasonal bow in the Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau on May 31.

Russian Rosie raced in England at ages 2 and 3 and finished fifth in her first start for Attfield and her first on Polytrack here in last fall's 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf.

After wintering at Payson Park, Russian Rosie stopped in at Keeneland on her way north and won a first-level allowance over one mile of turf on April 23.

"The way she'd trained, I figured it was a good spot for her," said Attfield.

Nicki Knew possible for Oaks

Nicki Knew, a promising 3-year-old filly trained by Kevin Attard who won her seasonal bow here last Saturday, could make her next start in the June 8 Woodbine Oaks.

Nicki Knew also is nominated to the Lady Angela, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies here May 24.

"We'd run in the Lady Angela if we're not going to look at the Oaks," said Attard. "Three races in six weeks would be a little too demanding, especially coming off a layoff. It could knock her off her game altogether.

"I'd rather try to prep her for the Oaks, and head straight in."

Pimlico Special-Preakness double available

Pimlico's Grade 1 double on Friday's Pimlico Special and Saturday's Preakness will be available at Woodbine.

There will be no advance wagering on the Preakness program, but wagering on Saturday's Pimlico card will be available on Woodbine's HorsePlayer Interactive telephone and Internet service beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Ontrack and teletheatre wagering will begin with Pimlico's fourth race at approximately 1:10 p.m.

* Patrick Husbands has appealed a three-day suspension handed down by the stewards for his ride aboard Gotaghostofachance here last Saturday. Gotaghostofachance had finished first but was demoted to fourth after the stewards ruled he had interfered with Marco Be Good in deep stretch.

* Handicapping author Jim Mazur will be here Saturday for a one-hour seminar on the Preakness program beginning at 11 a.m. on the second floor of the grandstand. Attendees will receive a free copy of Mazur's 2008 "Preakness Zone."