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Not Bourbon answers questions in prep
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's Plate Trial was a true trial for Not Bourbon, whose ability to handle the 1 1/8-mile distance was the subject of much speculation.
"The Trial had to tell me something," said Roger Attfield, who trains Not Bourbon and had elected to bypass the 1 1/16-mile Marine here May 17 after Not Bourbon romped in the seven-furlong Queenston two weeks earlier. "He'd never been two turns and a big effort in the Marine, plus a big effort in the Trial, would have been too much to get to the Plate."
And after Not Bourbon passed his test with flying colors, he will head to the June 22 Queen's Plate with a solid chance of giving Attfield a record-tying eighth score in the 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.
"He's run 1 1/8 miles, and he's carried the weight - those are very important factors," said Attfield, noting that Plate Trial participants all are burdened with the 126 pounds that they will carry on Plate Day. "Now, all I've got to do is keep him happy and ticking over."
Attfield, who himself had been unsure of Not Bourbon's prospects around two turns, was alarmed when Not Bourbon worked a mile in a slow 1:45 here May 21.
But it turned out that Not Bourbon had displaced his palate and Attfield was reassured when the colt came back to breeze four furlongs in 46.20 seconds here last Wednesday.
"I'm delighted now," said Attfield, the morning after watching Not Bourbon come from just off the pace to win the Plate Trial by a neck under regular rider Jono Jones.
"The race worked out exactly how we hoped it was going to. He won it very well and galloped out very well."
Added distance may suit Solitaire
Solitaire and Pewter, who had shipped in from Saratoga to contest the Plate Trial for trainer Jim Bond, were back at their home base Monday morning after mixed results here.
Solitaire closed strongly to finish second, but Pewter, who had set a moderate pace, was virtually eased as the last-place finisher in the field of seven.
A maiden who had finished a closing third over 1 1/8 miles of turf in his only previous start at Gulfstream Park on April 14, Solitaire acquitted himself admirably under totally new circumstances.
"I thought he'd run good, and he did," Bond said. "He's just a very, very talented colt. He's got the pedigree, and I've always liked him.
"He just took a little longer to get ready. I took my time, and if you take care of them, they'll take care of you."
"Maybe a little more distance of ground, and the experience factor, will put him in the right spot there in a few weeks."
Pewter, who was trying two turns and Polytrack for the first time after winning his maiden over seven furlongs at Gulfstream in his last start April 12, will not be returning for the Queen's Plate.
"Unfortunately, I just don't think Pewter handled the Poly, or maybe he's just a one-turn horse," Bond said.
Sebastian's Song shows improvement
Sebastian's Song also will be heading on to the Queen's Plate after rebounding from a disappointing effort here four weeks earlier to finish third in the Plate Trial.
"I think we have to be pretty satisfied," trainer Alec Fehr said.
"He stepped it up from his previous race and showed he could run a bit of a distance.
"Perhaps he moved a little prematurely and tired in the last bit of the race."
Sebastian's Song, with David Clark in the irons for the first time, was beaten 3 3/4 lengths after moving to the lead into the far turn.
"David was concerned that he was very strong on the bit and was just going to let him run a notch," Fehr said.
"He thought he was just going to ease himself up to the leaders, but instead the horse just had a turn of foot that he was surprised with.
"Once he started running, he just let him continue on. It wouldn't have been the time to take him out of the race."
Callwood Dancer wins first stakes
Attfield also was in the spotlight here Saturday after Callwood Dancer, an Irish-bred 4-year-old he trains for Dick Bonnycastle, captured the Nassau by a nose under a front-running ride by Eurico Rosa da Silva.
Callwood Dancer became a stakes winner in the Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares.
In her only other start this year, Callwood Dancer had won an open allowance race here over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack.
"She's a different filly this year," said Attfield, who sent out Callwood Dancer to win her maiden and her first two allowance conditions under Da Silva and over the turf course here in 2007. "The way this race looked on paper, I thought we might end up on the lead. It's a long way to go on the lead on that turf course, but she's a real tryer. When they came to her, she didn't lay down."
The Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly, at 1 1/8 miles here July 12, is the next turf race for the division but Attfield is keeping his options open.
"I always thought she'd go longer, and so does Eurico," Attfield said. "She's quite versatile; she obviously handles the Poly, too. She's going to be quite an interesting filly this year.
"Like Not Bourbon, she's just a very genuine horse. They give it their best, and if they get beaten it's because they're beaten by a better horse."
Cool Gator likely finished for season
Cool Gator, who would have been the second choice behind the disappointing fourth-place finisher Harlem Rocker in the Plate Trial, is definitely off the Queen's Plate trail.
"He's gone to the farm," said Danny Vella, who trains Cool Gator. "He's probably done for the year. We're still not sure exactly what's wrong; we're waiting for the results of some X-rays."
Cool Gator had shown signs of lameness last Tuesday after breezing for the Plate Trial here the previous morning.
Jockey Olguin out for four weeks
Jockey Gerry Olguin's hard-luck season continues as he now will be out for at least four weeks with a cracked heel.
The 35-year-old Olguin had returned to action here May 23 after missing four weeks with a broken shoulder blade, which he suffered when hit by a car in one of the parking lots here.
His latest setback occurred when Brimming, his mount in last Wednesday's sixth race, fell after crossing the wire.