Updated on 09/17/2011 10:10AM

McCulloch back in saddle for Chambers


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Scotty McCulloch is a survivor.

McCulloch won a battle with cancer a couple of years ago and was galloping horses at Fort Erie last fall despite being hindered severely by a bad hip. So it is no surprise that McCulloch is back on full throttle here as the private trainer for owner Herbert Chambers.

McCulloch actually is in his second incarnation as private trainer for Chambers, for whom he handled stakes winners Mips and Flashy Dr. Don and stakes-placed Sararegal and Deputy Herculean before owner and trainer parted company in June 2000.

"I was very ill at the time," said the 47-year-old McCulloch, who was suffering from liver and testicular cancer. "They said I wasn't going to make it. I can't blame [Chambers]. He had to make a move."

Although McCulloch defied the odds and was sidelined only briefly, his training career was at a serious ebb here in September 2001.

"I had one horse of my own," McCulloch said. "I was ill. I was just trying to get my health back. Then David Sepiachvili asked me to come and work for him."

McCulloch accepted a position as a private trainer for Sepiachvili, who races as Goldmart Farm. That arrangement lasted until last fall, when McCulloch again found himself at loose ends.

"I went to Fort Erie," McCulloch said. "I was freelancing there, getting beat up. I just couldn't do it any more.

"Then Mr. Chambers came down himself to ask me if I'd come back to work for him. I always had a good rapport with him. We did good together."

McCulloch started work this winter as manager of the Chambers's Classic View Farm, an 87-acre spread near Orangeville, Ontario.

"I have 29 horses in training up there now, and 14 here," said McCulloch, who is finding life a little more comfortable after undergoing hip replacement surgery on Jan. 9.

"I went in the hospital Thursday, was out Monday, and was getting on horses Friday," McCulloch said.

Deputy Cures Blues has options

The apple of McCulloch's eye right now is Deputy Cures Blues, a 3-year-old filly who was purchased for $10,000 by Chambers at the local select yearling sale and was a multiple stakes-placed winner of $146,145 when she was trained by Tino Attard here last year.

"She's a doll," said McCulloch, who watched Deputy Cures Blues work five furlongs in 1:00.40 on the fast main track Thursday.

Deputy Cures Blues is eligible for the Star Shoot Stakes, an open six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies here next Saturday.

"I nominated her there to see who showed up," said McCulloch. "If it came up light, I might take it under consideration."

The trainer, however, may be more inclined to have Deputy Cures Blues make her seasonal bow in the April 20 Lady Angela, a seven-furlong race restricted to Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

The ultimate target would be the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred fillies here June 8. The final local prep for the Oaks is the Grade 1, $250,000 Selene, an open race over 1 1/16 miles, also for Canadian-bred fillies, here May 19.

"If she happens to win the Lady Angela she might go to the Selene, then the Oaks," McCulloch said. "It would be a three-race deal."

"I don't want to beat her up too much. She's too nice."

General Ascot primed for year's bow

McCulloch also is looking forward to the campaign of General Ascot, a 3-year-old son of Ascot Knight who is nominated to the Queen's Plate.

"He's still a maiden, but he's got a nice little pedigree," McCulloch said.

General Ascot started three times last year, with his best effort a closing third-place finish at 6 1/2 furlongs when he was entered for $50,000 in his second outing.

McCulloch said General Ascot is training well and should be making his seasonal bow in two weeks.

Wild Whiskey to go in Cartier

Wild Whiskey, who wintered at Classic Mile Farm in Florida with trainer John Ross, arrived back at Woodbine on Wednesday and is slated to make his seasonal bow in next Sunday's $125,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes.

A 4-year-old colt owned by Gary Wellwood and Larry Titchner, Wild Whiskey would be seeking his fourth career win in the Jacques Cartier, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward that would be just his sixth start.

Wild Whiskey finished second here in the Achievement Handicap in his 2002 bow and then was a very impressive winner of the Woodstock, also at six furlongs.

A breeze for Boston Common

Boston Common, who also is among the Jacques Cartier nominees, had his first local breeze Thursday, getting three furlongs in 36 seconds under jockey Chantal Sutherland.

A 4-year-old owned by Richard Englander, Boston Common arrived at Woodbine a couple of weeks ago. His trainer here is Mike Wright Jr., who said Thursday he was undecided as to whether the colt would run in the Cartier.

Last year, Boston Common won Monmouth's Grade 3 Jersey Shore at six furlongs and Belmont's Grade 2 Jerome at one mile for trainer Michael Pino.

He made his last two appearances in Grade 1 races, finishing 13th of 14 making his turf debut in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington and then running sixth of eight, beaten by 5 1/4 lengths, in the six-furlong De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel.

Wando heads Achievement

Wando, winner of the six-furlong Vandal and 1 1/16-mile Grey here last year, heads a field of six for the 2003 edition of the Achievement here Sunday.

Owned and bred by Gustav Schickedanz and trained by Mike Keogh, Wando will carry high weight of 122 pounds and break from post 4 under Todd Kabel.