09/15/2009 11:00PM

Marsh Side takes another shot

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Marsh Side, winner of Woodbine's Grade 1 Canadian International last October, breezed five furlongs in 1:03.60 on the main turf course here Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's Northern Dancer.

The Grade 1, $750,000 Northern Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward, will be one of three major turf stakes on Sunday's card along with the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile for 3-year-olds and upward and the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. Entries for Sunday's program were to be taken on Thursday.

Marsh Side, trained by Neil Drysdale, finished a close fourth in last year's Northern Dancer prior to scoring at almost 30-1 over the same distance and surface in the $2 million Canadian International. Drysdale, taking a brief time out from the Keeneland sale, was on hand to give locally based jockey jockey Luis Contreras a leg up for the work.

"He did exactly what he was supposed to do," said Drysdale, adding that Marsh Side galloped out strongly. The work came on a course rated firm with the dogs well out.

Marsh Side, a 6-year-old horse owned by Robert Evans, has traveled many miles since his appearance in the Canadian International.

"He went to Japan last fall, but he got sick and couldn't run," said Drysdale. "Then he went to Dubai this winter, where he had a bit of a rough trip."

Marsh Side finished fifth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths in the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28.

In two subsequent outings, both in Grade 1 stakes at Belmont over 1 1/4 miles of turf, Marsh Side ended a solid second to the formidable Gio Ponti over a yielding course in the June 6 Manhattan and a tiring sixth over firm going in the July 11 Man o' War.

"He hit hard ground last time," said Drysdale, who is hoping for a more giving course on Sunday.

Javier Castellano rode Marsh Side for the first time in the Canadian International and has been aboard for three of his four starts this year, and he has the call for the Northern Dancer.

Musketier also prepped for the Northern Dancer here Wednesday morning, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.60 under jockey Jono Jones.

Trained by Roger Attfield, Musketier won the Grade 3 Singspiel here over 1 1/2 miles of turf and then finished a strong second in the Man o' War. But in his last start, which came in Saratoga's Grade 1 Sword Dancer over 1 1/2 miles of turf, Musketier got caught up in a quick pace and faltered to finish ninth.

Rafael Bejarano will take over aboard Musketier for the Northern Dancer.

Meanwhile, Saturday's card will feature the Grade 3, $300,000 Summer and its filly counterpart, the Grade 3, $150,000 Natama.

Both the Summer and Natalma are Breeders' Cup Win and You're In races for 2-year-olds at one mile on the turf. The Woodbine Mile also is part of the Breeders' Cup challenge series.