05/31/2010 11:00PM

Points of Grace ready for her return


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Points of Grace, Canada's champion female turf horse in 2009, is slated to make her first start since last Oct. 31 in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau Stakes.

The Nassau, a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares, will be one of two stakes contested here Saturday along with the Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse for 4-year-olds and upwards at 1 1/16 miles.

Points of Grace, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old who races for Live Oak Plantation and is trained by Malcolm Pierce, was making her fifth start of the season when she finished fourth in last year's Nassau at its former distance of 1 1/16 miles.

A victory in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly at 1 1/8 miles on the grass followed, and Points of Grace closed out her nine-race campaign with a win here in the River Memories over one mile on soft turf.

"She had a full year, and hadn't been to the farm for a long time, so she went home for a break," said Pierce.

Points of Grace joined Pierce at the Fair Grounds this winter and accompanied him on his annual stopover at Keeneland.

"I was hoping to get a start into her at Keeneland, but she had missed some time in New Orleans, due to the weather and everything, so she wasn't ready until now," said the trainer.

Points of Grace is coming into the Nassau off a series of sharp five-furlong breezes and Pierce is anticipating a good showing.

"She's been training very well," said Pierce, who will be giving Points of Grace's regular rider, Luis Contreras, a leg up for the Nassau.

Much Obliged has setback

Pierce had a second Nassau nominee in Much Obliged but that 5-year-old will be staying in the barn on Saturday.

"She cast herself or something in her stall, and missed a bit of time," said Pierce.

Much Obliged, who finished second behind Points of Grace in the Sovereign Award balloting for their division last year, has started twice this season, with both races coming in one-mile turf allowances.

After beginning her current campaign with a fourth-place finish in an allowance race at Keeneland, Much Obliged ran third in the Nassau prep.

Pierce also is looking forward to the return of Mullins Beach, a 4-year-old filly who won sprint stakes here last season on both Polytrack and turf.

"She's been ready to run for a while, but there just hasn't been anywhere to run her," said Pierce.

The $100,000 Zadracarta, an overnight stakes over six furlongs of turf here June 19, could be Mullins Beach's first opportunity.

D's Wando works for Trial

D's Wando, who is headed for the June 13 Plate Trial, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 here Tuesday morning.

Regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson, who had to book off her mounts last weekend because of a stomach ailment, was aboard for the drill.

"I was happy with him, and so was Emma," said trainer Ian Black, who had watched D's Wando outwork two stablemates.

D's Wando is scheduled to make his third start of the season in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial after closing to finish second in the six-furlong Woodstock and third in the seven-furlong Queenston.

The $1 million Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run here July 4.

Black plans to be represented in Saturday's Eclipse by Southdale, who would be making his first stakes appearance since finishing a close second in last year's Plate Trial.

"It's a big step up, but we might as well find out now," said Black, who conditions Southdale for owner-breeder Rod Ferguson.

Sidelined by a shoulder injury following the Plate Trial, Southdale did not return to action until this May 8 and was an impressive winner of a first-level allowance at six furlongs.

Doyle's appeal denied

An appeal by trainer Mike Doyle into the disqualification of Sans Sousi here last September has been disallowed by the Ontario Racing Commission.

Sans Sousi, ridden by Chantal Sutherland, had won a six-furlong allowance race by a neck on Sept. 2.

But, shortly after the result had been made official, it was discovered that Sutherland had been carrying an unapproved whip. The Wednesday evening card was the first here on which newly-mandated whip rules were fully in place.

Two days later, the stewards disqualified Sans Sousi and placed her last in the field of nine.

Sutherland acknowledged her error, paying a fine of $200, but Doyle appealed the stewards' ruling.

Peter Howard, appearing as counsel for Doyle at the racing commission's appeal hearing on May 18, had argued unsuccessfully that Sans Sousi's owners, Eaton Hall Farm and M.J. Doyle Racing Stable Ltd., were not responsible for the jockey's actions and should not have to default the $40,080 winner's share.

The racing commission panel rejected that argument and stated that the incident could have been avoided if Sutherland or Woodbine's outrider or starting gate personnel who were aware of the situation had immediately contacted the stewards.

Nixon named to racing commission

Dan Nixon has been appointed as a member of the Ontario Racing Commission for a two-year term effective May 29, commission chair Rod Seiling announced on Monday.

Nixon, who has a professional background in finance and banking, has been an owner of both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses for more than 10 years.

Nixon replaces Dr. Bernard F. Brennan, who has served on the commission's board since 2002.

Seiling also announced that David Gorman had been reappointed for a one-year term, effective April 29.