08/27/2006 11:00PM

Questuary gives new track a whirl


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Conventional wisdom is that closers do as well on Polytrack as front-runners and stalkers, and trainer Ian Howard is hoping that will be the case when he sends out stretch-runner Questuary in Wednesday's $125,000 Eternal Search, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

A new chapter in Canadian racing begins Wednesday as Woodbine unveils its Polytrack surface, which replaces the former main track.

"I think she has more of a chance on Polytrack than the way the track was," Howard said. "She has so little speed, and watching the Turfway races last winter [on Polytrack], it seemed like horses had a better chance coming from out of it."

Polytrack is thought to be much easier on horses than a regular dirt track, because of its consistency and its cushiony feel. There are very few horses at Woodbine with any racing experience over Polytrack, so horseman and handicappers are anxious to see how things will play out over the light brown surface.

In the spring, Questuary rallied for fourth in both the Grade 3 Selene Stakes and the Woodbine Oaks. Most recently when trying the turf for the first time, she trailed the field in an optional claimer.

"She never seemed to really get into her grass race," Howard said. "I thought she'd like it because she's a stayer, but grass just isn't her thing. She's trained well since then."

Executive Flight and London Snow are also in the nine-horse field.

Owned by William Sorokolit Jr., Executive Flight was third behind the victorious London Snow in the seven-furlong Lady Angela Stakes in May. She subsequently finished fifth in both the Oaks and the Ontario Damsel Stakes, and is coming off a runner-up placing in the Passing Mood Stakes on turf.

"We've had to do different things with her - things not to plan all the time," trainer Darwin Banach said. "We weren't really looking at the Oaks, but the boss wanted to [run there]. We didn't have much time in between races. We couldn't prepare her the way we wanted to but, hopefully, things will come together for this race for her.

"I think that she's going to take to the Polytrack. She doesn't like it deep - she likes a tight racetrack. She's not a very big horse, and she likes something firm."

London Snow was beaten about 23 lengths in the Oaks, which was her only attempt around two turns. She was a stalking fourth last time out in the Passing Mood.