Updated on 09/16/2011 9:47AM

Rhodesian Storm can stay the trip


ETOBICOKE Ontario - Rhodesian Storm and Parose could have the most staying power in Sunday's 1 3/4-mile Valedictory Handicap, the $145,750 closing-day feature of the Woodbine meet.

The 13-race card also includes the Kingarvie Stakes, a $134,750 race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.

Rhodesian Storm proved he was more than a just turf specialist when he captured the 1 1/2-mile allowance prep for the Valedictory by three-quarters of a length over A Fleets Dancer, winner of the 2000 Valedictory.

Trainer Ernie Celsie said Rhodesian Storm exceeded his expectations when he won the Nov. 9 prep, which came just nine days after his previous start.

"We thought he'd run well," Celsie said, "but we were a little surprised to see him win the way he did, because it was a little tougher caliber than what he'd been facing. I think he's doing a little better now than he was before that race, when he came back on short rest. He seems to be a little better when he gets three or four weeks between races."

Celsie, who claimed Rhodesian Storm, a 4-year-old, for just $25,000 in the fall of 2000, feels the gelding excels over extended distances, and is impartial to the surface over which he is running.

"I've always been of the opinion that he's as good on dirt as he is on the turf," Celsie said. "He's run a mile and a half twice, and he's won both times, so I think the distance is really the key with him."

Parose, a venerable 8-year-old, has won two stakes races this year, including the 1 1/16-mile Woodbine Slots Cup on Nov. 9. He finished third in the 2000 Valedictory, and is a Sovereign Award finalist for this year's champion older horse.

Trainer Sandy McPherson said he isn't keen on running Parose at 1 3/4 miles.

"[The Valedictory] is a race I've never been crazy about," McPherson said. "I think it's a total crapshoot. But [Parose] is fresh. He fits with these horses, and the money is good, so why not? If he relaxes, he'll probably get the distance."

Among the contenders in the large field are Queensgate, Steady Ruckus, and Malmaison.

Queensgate finished second in the 2000 Valedictory, and he upset A Fleets Dancer in winning last year's running. Trained by Tino Attard, Queensgate is coming off a poor effort on soft turf in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Handicap.

Steady Ruckus, an accomplished miler, figures to be the pacemaker, while Malmaison could be an effective stalking presence off his recent allowance score over Barbeau Ruckus.


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