07/12/2009 11:00PM

Points of Grace leads all the way


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Points of Grace finished fourth in the Grade 2 Nassau here Mayo30 after jockey Patrick Husbands took her back to avoid running head-to-head on the lead with stablemate Remarkable Remy.

"She probably should have been second," said Malcolm Pierce, who trains both Points of Grace and Remarkable Remy for Live Oak Plantation.

The circumstances were different here in last Saturday's Grade 2, $312,700 Dance Smartly. Points of Grace was Pierce's only representative in the 1 1/8-mile turf race, and with Husbands having opted to ride shipper Mushka, Luis Contreras put Points of Grace on the lead and they kicked away to score by 2 1/2 lengths.

"I didn't think there was much speed," Pierce said. "I told Luis to just try to nurse her along and see how far she'd go."

It was the first Canadian stakes victory for Contreras, who relocated to Woodbine this spring with the primary purpose of being the stable rider for the Steve Asmussen outfit. He can ride only for American owners due to his immigration status.

"Luis has helped me out," Pierce said. "He's breezed horses for me, and I hadn't thought at the time that they were owned by Canadians and he couldn't ride them. He got paid back on Saturday."

Much Obliged passes on Modesty

Pierce had nominated Points of Grace and Much Obliged to both the Dance Smartly and the Modesty at Arlington Park last Saturday and originally had planned to enter one in each spot. In the end, however, Much Obliged breezed four furlongs in a sharp 47.60 seconds here Saturday morning with an eye toward a future appearance.

"Much Obliged only had the one race this year, at seven furlongs, and with Pure Clan in the Modesty it looked like a pretty tough spot," said Pierce, who trains the Kentucky-bred 4-year-old for owner/breeder Pin Oak Stable. "That would be a long way to go to get second money. We'll find her a little easier spot for her second start of the year. But after the way she worked Saturday, I thought maybe I was running the wrong filly in the Dance Smartly."

Arlington Park still may be on the agenda for Points of Grace as Pierce already has been contacted about running the Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly in the Grade 1 Beverly D., a 1 3/16-mile turf race Aug. 8.

"We'll put that in the back of our minds," said Pierce, who will be shopping for a spot as Points of Grace is out of conditions and the next turf stakes for a the division here is the 1 1/8-mile Canadian on Sept. 20.

Pierce also could elect to return Points of Grace to Polytrack as she is perfect in two starts on the surface.

"I think she's a little better on the turf," Pierce said. "But she handles Polytrack well."

Crown Isle impresses in turf debut

Three-year-olds were in the spotlight in another 1 1/8-mile turf stakes at Woodbine last Saturday, the $153,150 Toronto Cup, and Crown Isle was the horse of the hour.

Making his stakes and turf debut under regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson, Crown Isle was prominent throughout and drew off to a 3 1/2-length victory in the open Toronto Cup.

"There was a lot of speed in there, and I said to Emma 'You can just put him wherever you want,' " trainer John Charalambous said.

Crown Isle wound up being on the early lead and then forced the pace until the field of five turned for home.

"Emma waited till they straightened out, then asked him," Charalambous said. "He finished strong; he'll run all day."

With no open stakes for the division here until the Sept. 27 Ontario Derby, Charalambous will be weighing his options.

"He still has allowance conditions," Charalambous said. "Or there's the possibility of going out of town. I think he's more genuine on the grass than he is on Poly. He'll run on and draw away from horses."

Maritime Passion stays perfect

Maritime Passion, an $80,000 weanling at the Keeneland sale in November of 2007, boosted her earnings to $131,400 by recording her second win in as many starts here in Sunday's $150,000 Shady Well.

The filly's value had improved before she even made the races as Retraceable, her half-sister, won the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth here last fall.

"It was nice to watch that happen when she was a yearling," trainer Michael DePaulo said.

And more nice things have been in store since Maritime Passion joined DePaulo here this April after wintering in Ocala with Jim Kirk.

"We knew she could run from her first work," DePaulo said.

Despite the buzz around her own barn, Maritime Passion was 11-1 when she debuted with a two-length win under jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva in a five-furlong maiden race here June 20.

"It looked like everybody liked their horse in that race," DePaulo said. "I certainly liked mine."

With Da Silva at Fort Erie on Sunday, Chantal Sutherland picked up the mount on Maritime Passion for the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well and guided her to an emphatic 3 3/4-length victory as the 8-5 second choice.

That win came over Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies, and Maritime Passion could swing back in the $150,000 Ontario Debutante, an open six-furlong race for the same set here Aug. 15.

"The Ontario Debutante is a possibility," DePaulo said. "There have been whispers of Saratoga, and there have been some offers on her. A lot of things could happen."