10/20/2010 1:54PM

Rider switch offers boost for Lemon Twirl


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – First-time Luis Contreras has been a profitable angle of late, and Lemon Twirl will have the talented rider on her back for the first time in a race in Friday’s sixth, a third-level optional claimer that is scheduled for seven furlongs on the grass.

Contreras was only allowed to ride for American connections at Woodbine until recently, when he got the paperwork completed that permits him to ride for everybody. This will be his first mount for John Mattine, who trains Lemon Twirl for owner George Robertson.

Lemon Twirl took a while to clear the second allowance condition, which she did in her season opener in June, after mounting a wide rally in a seven-furlong turf sprint. Following a seven-week break in August, she finished third behind stakes winner Sugar Bay and the upwardly mobile Missit in a seven-furlong optional claimer.

Lemon Twirl was overmatched last time in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes, but she didn’t disgrace herself by finishing fifth in a quality field. Victorious Miss Keller returned to run second in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, and Jenny’s So Great, who finished sixth and last, subsequently captured the restricted Carotene Stakes.

No Use Denying wound up a neck behind Lemon Twirl in fourth in her next-to-last race Aug. 13, after she opened up a substantial lead on the backstretch, before tiring.

Most recently in an $80,000 optional claimer, No Use Denying was a fading fifth behind a triumphant Missit, who was third next time out in the Grade 3 Athenia at Belmont.

Keeneland-based War Tigress has gone winless in eight starts since she captured the one-mile Caressing Handicap in November 2008 at Churchill.

War Tigress has run hot and cold this year. She checked in third behind the classy Never Retreat on July 24 in the one-mile Lady Canterbury Stakes, for which she got a career-high 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

War Tigress was bet down to 5-2 most recently in the Summer Finale Stakes at Mountaineer. After bobbling at the break, she went five wide on the first turn in a stalking position and ultimately finished fifth after wilting in the stretch.

First Circle was in poor form before her third-place finish in the Oct. 2 Belle Geste Stakes for Ontario-breds.