08/16/2006 11:00PM

Miss Concerto on the right track in Belle Mahone


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Miss Concerto was in fine fettle going into the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Matron, her last start, on July 28 at Woodbine.

But there was one question mark regarding Miss Concerto: The Ontario Matron was to be only her third start around two turns, and her earlier attempts, at Oaklawn Park in the winter of 2004, were unproductive.

"I really wasn't sure, but her owners said 'Let's give it a shot,' " said Sid Attard, who trains Miss Concerto for Lou and Carlo Tucci.

The shot hit the mark as Miss Concerto stalked the pace of Coastal Fortress and won by a head after a stretch-long duel.

"I really think she likes the inner track," said Attard, with reference to the seven-furlong oval being used by the Thoroughbreds while Polytrack is installed in place of the old one-mile dirt surface. "Some horses like it, and some don't."

On Saturday, Miss Concerto and Coastal Fortress could meet again in the 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone, a $100,000 overnight stakes which has attracted a field of just five fillies and mares.

Coastal Fortress, however, also has been entered in Sunday's $125,000 Victoriana, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares, and trainer Josie Carroll has until early Saturday afternoon to decide.

If Coastal Fortress opts for the Belle Mahone, she may have to deal with the speed of Roving Angel, who is coming off a fourth-place finish against males in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup here July 30.

"Overall, that's probably the best race she's run in her life," said Bobby Pion, who trains Roving Angel for Keith and Rachel McClelland and sent her out to become a stakes winner in the six-furlong Finger Lakes Juvenile Fillies as a 2-year-old.

"I'd figured she'd run all right, but not as big as she did," he said.

Roving Angel, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, finished second to Coastal Fortress in a third-level allowance at six furlongs here May 22, the first start of her campaign, then was a smart winner at 1 1/16 miles at the same classification on June 9.

But in her third start, which came on June 17 in the 1 1/16-mile Hill 'N' Dale, Roving Angel finished a distant last in a field of five.

"That was a mistake to run here there, eight days apart," said Pion. "I learned a lot from that; I'll never do that again. I had to give her some time off."

Pion's problem was that when Roving Angel was ready to resume racing he could not find her a spot.

"I kept putting her in conditioned races, and the races weren't going," said Pion. "Then, when the Seagram Cup came up, I had to do something with her or she wouldn't have had a race until the Belle Mahone."

Supplemented to the Seagram Cup at a cost of $3,000, which includes the regular $1,500 entry fee, Roving Angel was sent off at 37-1. She moved quickly to the front from her outside post in the field of nine and battled before finally giving way in the final furlong.

Roving Angel was beaten a total of 3 1/4 lengths by the winner, Gouldings Green, a shipper who was the odds-on favorite.

And Pion believes that Roving Angel may have fared even better had her workout schedule not been disrupted.

Roving Angel had worked three furlongs on July 25 in anticipation of a race that did not fill.

"If I would have had the proper work, a three-quarter-of-a-mile work instead of three-eighths, I'm not going to beat the [Seagram] winner, but I think we would have had a good shot at second money," Pion said.

Wilson rode Roving Angel in the Seagram Cup, but Justin Stein has the mount for the first time in the Belle Mahone.

Alesander B.N. gets Debutante shot

Pion also will be represented in the main event at Woodbine Saturday, saddling Alesander B.N. to face seven other 2-year-old fillies in the $125,000 Ontario Debutante.

The Ontario Debutante will be the third start for Alesander B.N., all three coming at five furlongs on the main track for owner Fred Bahr.

After finishing third in her opener, at the $40,000 claiming level on July 9, Alesander B.N. returned two weeks later for a front-running five-length score in the slop.

But a scheduled third appearance, in a $50,000 claiming race on Aug. 2, did not materialize when Alesander B.N. flipped in the paddock and was scratched.

That night was also the deadline for nominations to the Ontario Debutante.

"There was really nowhere else to go, so we decided to nominate," said Pion.

Two subsequent events fueled Pion's decision to proceed to the Ontario Debutante with Alesander B.N.

The first came on Aug. 6 when Black Tea, whom Alesander B.N. had trounced in her maiden score, came back and won a "B" maiden special after being claimed for $50,000.

Earlier, Black Tea raced competitively against the likes of Lottacosta and Coy Coyote, who will be among the choices in the Ontario Debutante.

Black Tea also has been supplemented to the Ontario Debutante for $2,500, including the $1,250 entry fee.

Then, on Aug. 13, Alesander B.N. drilled four furlongs in a fast 48.60.

"She worked super, and galloped out real strong," said Pion. "She was by herself, and did it very easily.

"So, why not take a shot?"