07/01/2009 11:00PM

Mobil Unit may relish more ground

Michael Burns
Marchfield may switch from Polytrack to turf for his next race.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mike Keogh, who will send out the favored Woodsmoke for Sunday's Ontario Damsel, will be looking to start the weekend at Woodbine on a high note with Mobil Unit in Saturday's $150,000 Clarendon for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

Mobil Unit, an Ontario-sired homebred who races for Gustav Schickedanz and Donald Howard, will be making his third start in the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon after finishing in a dead heat for fourth and then second in restricted 4 1/2-furlong maiden races.

"I think four and a half furlongs was a little too sharp for him," said Keogh. "He should appreciate the longer distance."

Mobil Unit was in South Carolina at the Schickedanz farm last winter with Keogh, who had his 2-year-olds active for the first time at the nearby Aiken training center.

"He was very forward in Aiken from the get-go," said Keogh.

Mobil Unit also is the only horse in the barn who was sired by Mobil, who won 12 races and almost $2 million and was Canada's champion older horse in 2004 under Keogh's tutelage.

"It's always extra-special to win with one when you trained the sire or the dam," said Keogh.

Mobil Unit will race with Lasix for the first time in the Clarendon and will have a new rider in Chantal Sutherland.

Jono Jones was aboard for the gelding's first two starts but will be at Churchill Downs on Saturday to ride Passager in the Grade 2 Firecracker for trainer Roger Attfield.

Several turf options on tap for Marchfield

Marchfield, Canada's champion older male in 2008, served notice that he's back in a big way with his emphatic 1 3/4-length score in Wednesday's Grade 3 Dominion Day.

Marchfield and regular rider Patrick Husbands bided their time while in heavy traffic down the backstretch. They loomed into contention in early stretch and then poured it in to finish the 1 1/4 miles of the $221,900 Dominion Day in a solid 2:03.63.

"I told Patrick this horse is really sharp, and doing good, and that I'd be surprised if he didn't run huge," said Mark Casse, who trains the homebred Marchfield for Eugene and Laura Melnyk.

An Ontario-bred 5-year-old, Marchfield had wound up his 2008 campaign with a victory here in the Grade 2 Autumn over 1 1/16 miles. Marchfield then went to Santa Anita as a member of Casse's first off-season division there, and finished on the fringes in a pair of Grade 2 stakes while shadowing the likes of Well Armed, Tiago, and Cowboy Cal.

Back at Woodbine and making his first start in almost four months, Marchfield rallied smartly to finish a neck back as the runner-up in the Grade 3 Eclipse over 1 1/16 miles.

"I thought his last race was very big," said Casse. "He's kind of a funny horse to train. No matter what you do, when he's off for a while he loses his racing edge. I'd planned to run him before that last stakes, but the races weren't going."

Casse should have a number of races to choose from now as Marchfield could return to grass. He won the Breeders' over 1 1/2 miles of turf here as a 3-year-old.

Upcoming local turf options would include the $300,000 Nijinsky at 1 1/4 miles here July 26; the $100,000 With Approval at 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 9; and the $250,000 Sky Classic at 1 3/8 miles here Aug. 23.

Further down the road are the $750,000 Northern Dancer on Sept. 20 and the $2 million Canadian International on Oct. 17, both at 1 1/2 miles on the grass.

"There's obviously big money here going long on the turf," said Casse.

Matron's timing may not suit Simply Splendid

Trainer Gail Cox was more than happy to get the money in Wednesday's supporting feature, as she sent out Simply Splendid to become a stakes winner in the $103,850 Sweet Briar Too for fillies and mares.

Simply Splendid, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old who is owned by Cox and John Menary, earned her third straight win in the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too after winning her first two allowance conditions at 6 1/2 furlongs and seven furlongs.

"She was doing very well, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try to get a bit of black type," said Cox, who watched Simply Splendid romp by 5 3/4 lengths in the Sweet Briar Too in a smart 1:22.25.

Simply Splendid, a $60,000 Keeneland yearling who finished fourth in her only start at 2, won her maiden in impressive fashion when making her seasonal bow over seven furlongs here in April 2008. In her next start, at 1 1/16 miles, Simply Splendid ended third and came out of the race with a fractured hind ankle. She did not return to action until this March when she finished 10th in a one-mile turf race at Gulfstream Park.

Since running third in her 5 1/2-furlong debut at this meet, Simply Splendid has gone onward and upward and Cox is hoping the party isn't over.

"She's a pretty nice filly, and there are certainly things we haven't tried with her yet," said Cox. "Her only two-turn race was the one she was injured in, and when she ran on the turf in Florida she'd shipped down from Payson Park and that wasn't a good idea at the time."

Simply Splendid has been nominated to the $150,000 Ontario Matron, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares here July 19.

"That would be back pretty quickly for her," said Cox. "John and I will discuss it, and see what our options are."

Landry reaches a milestone

Robert Landry, in the midst of his 29th campaign here in Ontario, recorded his 2,000th career winner on Wednesday when Firethexecutive captured the ninth race at 12-1.

Landry, 46, took home Sovereign Awards as Canada's outstanding rider in 1993 and 1994.

His 160 stakes scores include a Grade 1 Woodbine Mile with Quiet Resolve; a Queen's Plate with Niigon; and Woodbine Oaks with Too Late Now, Catch the Ring, and Capdiva.

Landry was the 2003 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Award for his lifetime contributions to the industry.

Fundraiser features golf, auction

Monday is the deadline day for entries to this year's Chaplaincy Golf Tournament, which will be held at Glen Eagle Golf Club on July 13.

The tab for golf, dinner, and a silent auction is $150. Dinner and auction only is $75 and all proceeds go the Race Track Chaplaincy of Canada's Ontario division.

Tickets can be reserved by calling chaplain Shawn Kennedy at 905 713-4783 or by e-mail at chaplainshawn@hotmail.com.