08/26/2010 9:41AM

A new and improved Hunter’s Tiger Paw eyes Colleen

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – When Hunter’s Tiger Paw last was seen locally she was winning a mile and 70-yard first-level allowance that had been taken off the turf on June 3. But when Hunter’s Tiger Paw returns to action here in Saturday’s $150,000 Ontario Colleen, she will be doing so as a winner of back-to-back stakes at Minnesota’s Canterbury Park and as a horse to be reckoned with in the open one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Hunter’s Tiger Paw also is being reunited with trainer Ian Black, who had the Minnesota-bred here for her first four starts before Canterbury-based trainer Corey Jensen took over for her successful stint in Minnesota.

Owned and bred Joel Zamzow and his wife, Kris, Hunter’s Tiger Paw wound up here with Black partly because the owners had sent him their Ontario-sired Eskimo Kiss back in 2007. Mack’s Blackhawk, another of the Zamzow’s Minnesota homebreds, also made three starts for Black here last year and another this spring.

Hunter’s Tiger Paw, however, already has been by far the most successful of the Minnesota exports.

After racing once as a 2-year-old, finishing fifth over six furlongs for a $62,500 claiming price on Nov. 29, Hunter’s Tiger Paw wintered at nearby Kinghaven Farm. Making her 3-year-old bow for $50,000 here April 30, Hunter’s Tiger Paw rushed out to a long early lead but tired to finish last of seven at six furlongs under jockey Gerry Olguin.

“She was running with blinkers,” said Black. “She was really goofy on post parade; she dropped Gerry. I took the blinkers off, and dropped her in for $32,000.”

Hunter’s Tiger Paw evidently saw the light, as she rolled to a 2 1/4-length win while also racing with Lasix for the first time and has never looked back.

Following her allowance success here, Hunter’s Tiger Paw won Canterbury’s open Northbound Pride over one mile of turf on July 4 and then captured the restricted Minnesota Oaks over a mile and 70 yards on the main track there July 31.

As Jeff Bowen, Black’s assistant and son-in-law points out, that triple makes Hunter’s Tiger Paw one of the rare beasts who has won on a synthetic track, turf, and dirt – let alone in succession.

Jockey Justin Stein, who was aboard Hunter’s Tiger Paw for her two local wins, also guided the filly through a 59.20 breeze over the training track turf course here Aug. 15. She also breezed four furlongs in 48.80 on the main track here last Sunday when turf workouts were canceled following heavy rainfall.

“Justin thinks she prefers turf,” said Black.

Play the King hits Southdale just right

The Black barn also will be represented in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King, with Southdale slated for seven-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

A 4-year-old homebred colt who races for Rod Ferguson, Southdale returned to action here this May following an absence of almost a year, and was an impressive winner of a first-level allowance at six furlongs.

Southdale since has competed under a variety of conditions as he won the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse, finished third in the 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day, and then finished third over 1 1/8 miles of yielding going when making his turf debut in the Nijinsky.

“The Dominion Day was probably a little farther than he wanted to go,” said Black. “And, while the turf was soft the day he ran on it in the Nijinsky, it seemed like he might be better suited to going a little bit shorter.

“He won going a mile and a sixteenth but, when all is said and done, seven furlongs or a mile has got to be the ideal distance for him.”

Southdale has worked very well since the July 24 Nijinsky, with three five-furlong breezes including a sharp move in 58.60 over the turf training course here Aug. 15.

With his regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson recuperating from an injury, Southdale will be ridden by Jim McAleney for the first time in the Play the King.

Jenny’s So Great sharp for Colleen

Although Jenny’s So Great captured the Ontario Colleen prep, she figures to go off at a healthy price in the stakes itself here Saturday.

Jenny’s So Great, an Ontario-bred, was second in a pair of stakes races here last year but had been disappointing this season before dropping in for a $40,000 claiming price on July 11. After winning that six-furlong Polytrack race as the odds-on favorite, Jenny’s So Great moved to the turf for the seven-furlong Ontario Colleen prep and was a two-length winner.

“I thought her last race was pretty strong,” said Greg De Gannes, who trains Jenny’s So Great for Vicki and Bill Poston. “She seems to have discovered a new love, in turf.”

De Gannes attributes Jenny’s So Great’s recent successes to the fact that Garrret Gomez, who piloted her in the claiming race, and Chantal Sutherland, aboard for the prep, both delivered flawless rides.

“She needs to be ridden in a certain way – covered up, and don’t show her daylight until the last possible moment,” said DeGannes.

With Gomez occupied elsewhere and Sutherland moving to leading Ontario Colleen candidate No Explaining, Jenny’s So Great will have a new rider in import Jose Ferrer.

Normally based at Philadelphia Park, which has been on hiatus for most of August, Ferrer has been competing at Monmouth and will be making his Canadian debut in the Ontario Colleen.

Moreno eyes second Sovereign

Apprentice jockey Omar Moreno was the riding star on Wednesday evening’s eight-race program, guiding home three winners for three different trainers.

Moreno clicked with Regal Bet (($10.20) for Darwin Banach in the first race; Old Bud ($10.60) for Scott Fairlie in the fourth; and Trelawny for Laurie Silvera in the eighth.

Winner of the Sovereign Award as outstanding apprentice last year, Moreno is odds-on to repeat in that category after riding 67 winners at the meeting heading into Thursday’s program plus another 14 at Fort Erie.