05/20/2009 11:00PM

Pierce trio tackling turf stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Malcolm Pierce's barn seldom seems to be lacking in quality turf runners, and this year is no exception.

Pierce nominated Sterwins, Equitable, and Get Rich Quick to Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Connaught Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward that is scheduled to be the first turf stakes of the meeting.

While Sterwins is the only one of the trio entered for the Connaught Cup, Pierce plans to field both Points of Grace and Remarkable Remy for the following Saturday's Nassau over the same distance and surface.

Sterwins, a homebred 6-year-old gelding owned by Melnyk Racing Stable, has been effective on dirt, turf, and Polytrack during his 20-start career.

After his 2008 campaign was cut short by an injury following a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Eclipse over 1 1/16 miles here last June, Sterwins resurfaced at the Fair Grounds and was a strong second in a classified allowance at 1 1/16 miles on grass on Feb. 20.

In his only subsequent outing, Sterwins was a well-beaten fifth over 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack in Keeneland's April 19 Ben Ali, a Grade 3 race that he had won last year.

"I was a little disappointed," said Pierce. "I guess he needed another prep, in between the two months from Fair Grounds to Keeneland. Hopefully, the Ben Ali will put him on the right track to the Connaught Cup."

Equitable and Get Rich Quick both are Kentucky-bred 5-year-old horses who race for owner/breeder Pin Oak Stable.

Equitable finished third in last summer's Grade 1 United Nations over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Monmouth Park and has made all of his 12 career starts on the grass.

"I picked him up at Keeneland in mid-April," said Pierce. "I like him - he's a good-looking, big horse who's never run on Polytrack. I want to try that with him."

Get Rich Quick finished a close second in the Allen LaCombe Memorial over one mile on turf at the Fair Grounds this March, but then was last of six in a classified allowance race at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

"His last race wasn't too good," said Pierce, who had sent out Get Rich Quick to win his second and third allowance conditions in New Orleans before his good stakes effort there.

"I'd like to get him back on a winning note."

Points of Grace looks stakes-ready

In the Nassau, a race for fillies and mares that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $300,000, Points of Grace would be making her stakes debut and Remarkable Remy her debut for Pierce.

Points of Grace, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old owned by Live Oak Plantation, has been a gem of consistency to date, with 4 wins and a pair of seconds from 6 outings.

After opening up her career here last fall with a smart score over six furlongs on Polytrack, Points of Grace started four times on the turf at Fair Grounds and won her first two allowance conditions over 1 1/8 miles and 1 1/16 miles.

Back at Woodbine in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer/third-level allowance on the main track April 26, Points of Grace rallied for a one-length score under confident handling by rider Patrick Husbands.

"She got through her conditions very nicely," said Pierce. "She deserves a shot in the Nassau."

Remarkable Remy, a New York-bred 4-year-old owned by Live Oak, finished fifth here in her second career start, the 2007 Natalma, a Grade 3 race over one mile on turf.

Racing for trainer John Kimmel, Remarkable Remy has since won three overnight stakes in New York while performing exclusively on the grass.

"I just picked her up at the end of the Keeneland meeting," said Pierce. "She's also a filly that's out of conditions.

"We'll try her in the Nassau, and see how she fits."

Lofty main-track goals

Pierce also has some important Polytrack dates on his agenda, with El Brujo on target for the June 21 Queen's Plate and Double Malt aiming for the June 7 Woodbine Oaks.

The $1 million Queen's Plate, at 1 1/4 miles, is for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, at 1 1/8 miles, is for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

El Brujo, who has won the six-furlong Achievement and seven-furlong Queenston in his two starts here this year, was scheduled to work this weekend in preparation for next Sunday's $150,000 Plate Trial at 1 1/8 miles.

Double Malt has raced three times this season and was beaten five lengths when he ran fifth in last Sunday's 1 1/16 mile La Lorgnette, her first try around two turns since winning the restricted South Ocean here last fall.

"I thought she ran a pretty good race," said Pierce of the La Lorgnette effort. "She didn't get beat all that far, and was closing up a bit of ground.

"Right now, she's still Oaks-bound."

Costalivin on the rise

Costalivin took another step toward the Queen's Plate here Wednesday with a 2 1/2-length score in a first-level allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

The victory was the second in as many tries at 1 1/16 miles for Costalivin, who is trained by John Ross for the Jam Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds.

Costalivin had wound up his first campaign with a 1 1/16-mile score in a restricted maiden race here last November and returned to finish second in a first-level restricted allowance at seven furlongs in his 2009 debut.

Patrick Husbands has ridden Costalivin in his two outings this year.

"It was what we wanted to see," said Ross, the morning after Costalivin's Wednesday-evening success. "The way the horse did it was really nice - he was able to rate.

"Patrick didn't have to press him too much. He was very willing, picked it up down the lane, and galloped out strong."

Costalivin is nominated to the Plate Trial, but Ross is loathe to run him back on such short notice.

"I want to run him once more before the Plate," said Ross, who is hoping a suitable allowance opportunity will present itself.

If an allowance race is not forthcoming, then Ross would consider the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park, an open race for 3-year-olds here June 7.

Sutherland has three-win night

Chantal Sutherland was the riding star here on Wednesday with three winners on the eight-race card.

Sutherland won the second race with Cat Loves This ($8.60) for trainer Paul Buttigieg, the fourth with Mia d'Cougar ($12.90) for Tino Attard, and the seventh with Carolus Magnus ($6.10) for Bob Tiller.

Her victory aboard Carolus Magnus was particularly notable, as it was her first ride aboard the 5-year-old gelding, who had won just 1 of 31 previous starts while finishing second 9 times and third 6 times.