04/21/2010 11:00PM

Pierce reloads after a harsh winter


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Malcolm Pierce usually enjoys his winters in New Orleans, but he won't have fond memories of the recent Fair Grounds meeting.

"Cold, wet, off the turf," he said. "I think we are going to come back with some horses who are going to benefit from winter training. But obviously, we didn't get a whole lot accomplished that we wanted to."

Pierce had 60 starts at the Fair Grounds meeting, which ended March 28. Many of the starts came under less than ideal circumstances, and he finished 5-5-9 for earnings of $272,320. At the 2008-2009 Fair Grounds meeting, he finished 12-9-12 from 72 starters for $485,250.

"We take a lot of turf horses down there," Pierce said. "It's frustrating when you get horses to peak, ready to run, and then have to scratch them. And a lot of our better horses had run hard all last year and were on vacation."

Pierce recently sent out a couple of nice winners. Elision won a third-level allowance at Keeneland, and First With Class won her maiden in her debut here.

Elision, a 4-year-old who was bred in Kentucky by her owner, Pin Oak Stable, scored over 1 1/16 miles on turf after missing by a nose under similar terms in New Orleans two months earlier.

"She runs good fresh," Pierce said. "We might be looking at the Nassau as her next start."

The Nassau, which will be first turf stakes of the Woodbine meeting, will be run over one mile here June 5 and offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $300,000.

Pierce also has Nassau candidates in Much Obliged, a 5-year-old Pin Oak homebred, and Points of Grace, a 5-year-old who races for Live Oak Plantation. Points of Grace was Canada's champion turf female last season, and Much Obliged was second in the balloting.

Both Kentucky-breds were with Pierce at Fair Grounds and Keeneland, but only Much Obliged raced, winning the $60,000 Blushing K. D. last November and finishing fourth in the $60,000 Furl Sail two months later. Both stakes were run at 1 1/16 miles.

"She got hurt in her last race at Fair Grounds," Pierce said. "I had to give her 30 easy days."

In her most recent outing, Much Obliged finished a troubled fourth in an open allowance race over one mile on turf April 11 at Keeneland.

"That was a very salty allowance race," Pierce said.

Points of Grace has not started since winning the River Memories, an overnight stakes run over one mile on soft turf here last Oct. 31.

In July, Points of Grace won the Grade 2 Dance Smartly here over 1 1/8 miles on turf after finishing fourth in the Nassau at its previous 1 1/16-mile distance.

"She had her second half-mile work the other day," Pierce said. "She's a little ways away. She'll be ready late May, early June."

Carem Crescent and Mullins Beach, a pair of Melnyk Racing Stable fillies who won two stakes apiece here in their 3-year-old campaigns, wintered on Eugene Melnyk's Winding Oaks Farm in Florida and arrived at Woodbine early this month.

"They had quite a bit of time off," Pierce said. "They're coming along, but they're a couple of five-furlong works away."

Carem Crescent and Mullins Beach turned in solid four-furlong breezes here Thursday. Carem Crescent went in 47.60 under exercise rider Mark Ramsammy, and Mullins Beach went in 48 seconds under jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva.

Pierce also is pondering his next move with El Brujo, winner of four sprint stakes last year and a finalist in the Sovereign Award categories for both 3-year-old male and male sprinter.

El Brujo was with Pierce in New Orleans and Lexington, but his season debut was a third-place finish in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier here April 11.

"He lost a shoe an eighth of a mile out of the gate," said Pierce, who noted El Brujo was carrying top weight of 124 pounds and conceding eight pounds to the winner.

El Brujo could come back in the Grade 3, $150,000 Vigil, a seven-furlong race for 4-year-olds and up here May 9.

Roan Inish works for season debut in Fury

Roan Inish, prepping for next Saturday's Fury Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 under apprentice jockey Ryan Pacheco here Thursday.

Stablemate Bru Boru, with trainer Carolyn Costigan in the irons, worked outside Roan Inish and finished in 1:02.60.

"I sat off her flank the whole way," Costigan said. "Then I yelled at Ryan to give her a couple of smacks to wake her up."

Roan Inish will be making her season debut in the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares. She is being targeted for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred fillies and mares June 13.

Irish jockey David Moran, who rode Roan Inish to victory in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth in her North American debut here last October, is slated to ride Roan Inish through the Oaks.

Bru Boru, a 4-year-old gelding who is a half-brother to Roan Inish, showed speed but tired to finish 10th last Saturday in his second career start and local debut.

"I think he does need to try the turf," Costigan said. "He's looking for more distance, and he's not keen on Polytrack."