09/12/2006 11:00PM

Obscure trainer could find spotlight


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Excepting some serious devotees of Southern California racing, it would be surprising if the name Melody Conlon rings a bell.

But Conlon, 53, will be looking to make some serious noise when she sends out Captain Kurt, a 4-year-old gelding owned by John Liviakis, in Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile.

Conlon, based at Hollywood Park with a string of 10 horses, will not only be looking for her first stakes win but also will be represented by her first stakes starter in the Woodbine Mile.

In fact, Conlon has registered a total of three lifetime wins from 131 starters since taking out her trainer's license in 1994.

"I was training for a breeder," said Conlon, who arrived here with Captain Kurt late Tuesday evening. "I never had that many opportunities to run - I'd get them ready to run, then they'd get sold."

But Captain Kurt, who was purchased privately in his homeland of New Zealand, is a different kind of horse for Conlon.

Captain Kurt joined Conlon in California on June 6 and has started once, in a $125,000 optional claiming event at Del Mar on Aug. 23.

Sent off as the favorite in a field of nine in the one-mile turf race, Captain Kurt rallied to finish second, just a head behind Grade 1 winner Unfurl the Flag.

"I thought he ran an amazing race," said Conlon. "He ran a winning race; he was just a little too far back and didn't have time to get there. The Del Mar stretch is really short."

Following that performance, Conlon began scouting for a spot for Captain Kurt and decided the Woodbine Mile was the place to be.

"This race came up with very good timing for him," said Conlon. "There are some good races coming up in California for him, a little later on."

Emma-Jayne Wilson, last year's Eclipse- and Sovereign-winning apprentice and leader in the Woodbine standings again this year, will have her first Woodbine Mile mount aboard Captain Kurt.

Summer Girlfriend takes class drop

Meanwhile, there is life before the Mile and trainer John Charalambous looks to make his presence felt when he sends out stable stars Summer Girlfriend and London Snow on the Friday and Saturday programs.

Summer Girlfriend, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly owned by the Equilease Racing Stable of Allen Abbott, will be taking on four older fillies and mares in Friday's $71,300 feature, a six-furlong fourth-level allowance with a $100,000 optional claiming clause.

"I had her in a three-other-than, but it didn't fill," said Charalambous, who sent out Summer Girlfriend to become a stakes winner in the six-furlong Star Shoot here April 30.

"Basically, I didn't have any choice but to run her here," he said. "It's a good race, but she ran a good race last time against some really tough horses. Hopefully, it didn't take a lot out of her."

Summer Girlfriend journeyed to Saratoga for her last start and finished sixth, beaten 6 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 3 Victory Ride, a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

The winner, Wildcat Bettie B, was coming off a victory in Belmont's Grade 1 Prioress, and the other also-rans included Original Spin and Misty Rosette, who had placed in Grade 1 stakes.

Summer Girlfriend's opposition here Friday consists of the consistent group Friendly Theresa, If Moma Aint Happy, Bosskiri, and Runaway Sunshine.

All five entrants have raced effectively on the front end, making the race difficult to decipher.

"There is a lot of speed," said Charalambous. "I don't know if she benefits or not. Some of those horses are one-dimensional, and she did rate a couple of starts ago."

Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that all five entrants will be making their first start on Polytrack.

"She seemed to handle it okay," said Charalambous, regarding Summer Girlfriend's training on the new surface. "But you really don't know until you're racing."

London Snow prefers firm turf

London Snow will be looking for her second stakes win of the season in Saturday's $125,000 La Prevoyante, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

Owned by Kirk Bradden Racing Stables Inc., London Snow won the seven-furlong Lady Angela, also for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, here May 27.

"She's doing well," said Charalambous. "She ran a huge race last time."

London Snow finished second behind Questuary last time out in the Eternal Search, a 1 1/16-mile race that was the first stakes contested over the Polytrack surface.

Prior to that, London Snow had finished fourth, beaten three lengths, in her turf debut in the seven-furlong Passing Mood, also for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

"I hope the turf is firm," said Charalambous. "I don't think she'd like any 'give' in it."

Landry guest at handicapping seminar

Jennifer Morrison, Woodbine's oddsmaker and a regular contributor to Daily Racing Form, will hold her next in a series of one-hour handicapping seminars here at 11 a.m. Saturday on the second floor of the grandstand.

Morrison's guests will include jockey Robert Landry, who will be riding in his seventh Woodbine Mile on Sunday.

Landry's mount is Shoal Water, owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad. The same connections teamed up to win the 1999 Woodbine Mile with Quiet Resolve, who was promoted to first place upon the disqualification of Hawksley Hill.

Quiet Resolve returned $90.10 as part of a Sam-Son entry.