07/16/2010 12:00AM

Roxy Gap back after romp in debut


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Roxy Gap didn't attract much notice before her debut, in which she romped by 6 1/2 lengths under rider Corey Fraser here July 3.

On Sunday, Roxy Gap will be all the rage when she takes on 11 rivals in the $150,000 Shady Well, a 5 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies.

Roxy Gap, a homebred who races for the high-profile connections of owner Eugene Melnyk and trainer Mark Casse, was sent off at almost 13-1 in an open maiden race at five furlongs here July 3.

"I didn't understand that," said Casse. "She had trained extremely well, and we'd never really let her go. She did everything on her own, and did it nice."

Roxy Gap's Beyer Speed Figure for her maiden win came back at 84, a number that eclipsed that of any of her opponents in the Shady Well.

"That was extremely good," said Casse. "And, she must have galloped out 15 or 20 lengths in front. I was quite impressed by her.

Roxy Gap's biggest challenge in the Shady Well might be provided by her post position, as she drew the 12 hole.

There are four other winners in the race, with I'm No Toy and Miss Layla having scored for high claiming prices and Lucky Be Me and Tree Pose having captured Ontario-sired dashes.

The most formidable member of that quartet could be I'm No Toy, who stalked the pace and was up by a nose in a $62,500 claimer at five furlongs.

"We liked him, but the only thing I thought might hinder him in there was the distance," said Martha Gonzalez, wife and assistant to I'm No Toy's trainer, Nick Gonzalez.

"She just got up, and the 5 1/2 furlongs this time should help her. She's a very professional filly. She always did everything right."

Emma-Jayne Wilson retains the mount on I'm No Toy, who will begin from post 4.

Major tune-up for Big Red Mike

Martha Gonzalez was trackside here Friday morning as Big Red Mike, winner of the July 4 Queen's Plate for the Gonzalez outfit, had his major tune-up for next Sunday's Prince of Wales Stakes.

Working over the dirt training track here under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, Big Red Mike was clocked in 58.40 seconds, going in company with 4-year-old stablemate My Bad.

Head clocker Alison Read caught Big Red Mike going his first three furlongs in 34.60 seconds and galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.80.

Big Red Mike broke off a couple of lengths behind My Bad, and the pair finished on virtually even terms.

"It was his first breeze on the training track, and I think he was caught off guard a little bit," said Gonzalez.

"He just broke into a gallop, but as soon as Eurico chirped to him the horse jumped on the bridle."

Nick Gonzalez, who trains Big Red Mike and is based at Fort Erie, originally had considered bringing down Big Red Mike well in advance of the Prince of Wales but has reconsidered, and the gelding probably will leave here the day before the race.

"Nick didn't want to disrupt his schedule," said Martha Gonzalez. "Fort Erie's a kind racetrack. I don't think you need a race over it, and he trained there most of last year."

The $500,000 Prince of Wales, which follows the Queen's Plate as the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, attracted 11 nominees and also is the target of Mobthewarrior, who would have to be supplemented when entries are taken Wednesday.

Artic Fern still sidelined

Artic Fern would have been one of the favorites for the Queen's Plate but was forced to miss the race after coming out of his final breeze in less-than-perfect order.

"We did a scintigraphy, and he lit up on a pastern," said Mike Keogh, who trains the homebred Artic Fern for owner Gustav Schickedanz. "It could be bruises, or it could be a fracture. But we've X-rayed him three times, and still haven't found anything, which is a good sign."

While Artic Fern will be confined to his stall until further notice, his stablemate Mobil Unit should be heading down the road for the Prince of Wales.

Mobil Unit would be heading into the Prince of Wales off a sharp win in a restricted first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here June 24.

"We started thinking about the Prince of Wales just before the Plate," said Keogh. "He'd trained so well on the dirt when he was with me down in Aiken this winter, and I always train him on the training track here."

Mobil Unit breezed five furlongs on the training track in 59.60 seconds on July 8 and is scheduled to have his final Prince of Wales tune-up her this weekend.

David Clark who was Artic Fern's regular rider, is slated to pilot Mobil Unit for the first time in the Prince of Wales.

First Circle shooting for upset

In the meantime, Keogh and Schickedanz will be looking for the upset here Sunday with First Circle in the Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly.

Keogh admits that the Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, had not been his first choice for First Circle.

"I'd been entering her in a two other than but it kept getting carried over," said Keogh. "I didn't think they'd carry it over again, and I worked her five furlongs on Sunday.

"Then, they decided to use it Thursday, and I couldn't go in after I'd just worked her."

First Circle has raced twice this season, with both starts coming on turf in her second-level allowance condition and yielding third-place finishes at 6 1/2 furlongs and then 1 1/8 miles.

"She's run well in stakes company, and the distance is easily in her range," said Keogh, who had sent out First Circle to record close second-place finishes in last year's 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where and 1 1/8-mile Carotene on the turf course here.

Jim McAleney will ride First Circle for the first time.