05/19/2010 11:00PM

Porter's Gate looks primed for top spot


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - One could go many different ways in Friday's intriguing Woodbine feature, and Porter's Gate should have as good a chance as any in the third-level allowance/optional claimer that's scheduled for seven furlongs on the grass.

Porter's Gate fared well in two seven-furlong events on Polytrack here in the fall before spending the winter in New Orleans.

Following a layoff, Porter's Gate won back-to-back sprints over about 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass at the Fair Grounds. He earned a fat 98 Beyer Speed Figure most recently March 27, when he defeated Southern Region and the classy Atticus Kristy in a second-level allowance/optional claimer.

Porter's Gate has worked regularly leading up to this engagement for trainer Malcolm Pierce, who has been scoring at a 20-percent clip with horses exiting a turf win. Chantal Sutherland has the mount.

Strike Again ships in from Saratoga for trainer Bill Mott, who sent him out to take the $75,150 Tap the Admiral Stakes there last August. Strike Again is winless in four starts since then, and has been freshened since finishing second in a March 28 optional claimer at Gulfstream.

Trainer Don MacRae claimed Written in Stone from a runner-up placing May 1 for $60,000 from Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad. The 6-year-old has won on three different surfaces.

"He has some quirks to him, but he came to us in incredible order," said MacRae.

Alezzandro, the 2007 Prince of Wales Stakes winner, had a troubled beginning in an 11th-place finish in his only start this year on the grass at Gulfstream. His lone victory in eight starts last year came in an optional claimer here on the Polytrack.

Seaside Retreat has been idle since he wound up second in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes in October of 2008. His most important triumph came earlier that year in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes, which led to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Canadian International.

Monty's Best and It Happened Again are both trying the turf for the first time.

Monty's Best was a respectable fourth behind the unstoppable Hollywood Hit and champion sprinter Field Commission when he came off an eight-month layoff April 11 in the Jacques Cartier Stakes. He has very little grass breeding.

It Happened Again is by a good turf sire, Proud Citizen, and his dam has thrown two turf winners.