09/15/2010 12:57PM

Out-of-towners get a feel for Woodbine turf

Michael Burns
Southern California-based The Usual Q.T. gallops over the Polytrack at Woodbine in preparation for Sunday's Woodbine Mile.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – With the Californians checking in late Tuesday afternoon, the Europeans arriving shortly thereafter, and the main turf course open for training on Wednesday morning, the countdown has begun to this weekend’s quintet of graded turf stakes at Woodbine.

The action will begin Saturday with a pair of Grade 3 races for 2-year-olds, the Natalma Stakes and the Summer Stakes, both of which are in the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In series.

The Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile, also a part of the Win and You're In program, and the Grade 1, $750,000 Northern Dancer will be run on Sunday, along with the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian.

The Usual Q.T., Victor’s Cry, and Crowded House checked in from California for the Woodbine Mile, along with the 2-year-old Ronin Dax, who has been entered in Saturday’s Summer..

The Usual Q.T., who figures to go off as the favorite, and Victor’s Cry, who also will be well supported, both galloped over the E.P. Taylor turf course.

Victor Espinoza is scheduled to take his usual seat aboard The Usual Q.T., who is trained by Jim Cassidy.

Corey Nakatani, recent regular rider of Victor’s Cry, will get a leg up from trainer Eoin Harty.

Crowded House, who would have to be supplemented to the Woodbine Mile at a cost of $20,000, had a quiet morning and walked in the shed row.

Trained by Ben Cecil, Crowded House was ridden by Nakatani last time out but Joel Rosario has picked up the mount.

Famous Name, in from Ireland for the Woodbine Mile for trainer Dermot Weld, had an easy jog going clockwise on the turf course under Tom Daly.

Famous Name will be ridden by Pat Smullen, who is the brother of local trainer Sean Smullen.

His traveling companions were Redwood, here for the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer for 3-year-olds and upward, and Latin Love, whose target is the 1 1/8-mile Canadian for fillies and mares.

Latin Love trotted on the turf under exercise rider Craig Quinn while Redwood walked while familiarizing himself with his new surroundings.

The only Woodbine Mile horse to work was Riviera Cocktail, trained by Neil Drysdale, who breezed six furlongs in 1:18 over a firm turf course with the dogs well out.

John McInerney, who is trainer Neil Drysdale’s favored exercise rider here and is also competing in Quarter Horse races at nearby Ajax Downs, was aboard

Spice Route, one of the leading contenders for the Northern Dancer, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 under exercise rider Suzanne Lorimer while going in company with stablemate Perfect Shower.