09/05/2006 11:00PM

Royal Challenger moves to Polytrack


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Breeders' Stakes winner Royal Challenger switches from turf to Woodbine's Polytrack in Friday's headliner, an allowance prep for the Oct. 1 Ontario Derby.

Royal Challenger has come a long way since he got drilled in an $80,000 maiden claimer at Gulfstream in February. Following a three-month absence, he graduated with little fanfare here in a minor seven-furlong maiden race.

Royal Challenger also won his next outing, a 1 1/16-mile allowance on June 2 that contained several Queen's Plate prospects. Royal Challenger was ineligible for the June 25 Plate, so his connections - Stronach Stable and trainer Brian Lynch - decided to point him for the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie.

Royal Challenger finished a closing fourth in the July 16 Wales, after being hard-ridden by jockey Patrick Husbands. He tried the grass for the first time in the third Triple Crown event, the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Stakes, in which he came from nearly eight lengths back to post a neck victory ovr French Beret.

Lynch said things worked out perfectly for Royal Challenger in the Aug. 6 Breeders'.

"As the race unfolded, I was glad to see that he got shuffled back a bit early and had a ground-saving trip along the rail," Lynch said. "His path opened up when he needed it to, and he never got stopped anywhere. I always thought a mile and a half wouldn't be a big question for him."

Lynch said he believes Royal Challenger can handle any surface.

"I think he's one of those hardy horses who would run on broken glass," he said.

Royal Challenger drilled a half-mile Sept. 1 on Polytrack in 48.20 seconds, the ninth-fastest of 50 works at the distance.

Rounding out the field for Friday's 1 1/16-mile sixth race are Ports N Porsches, Italiano, Thinking Out Loud, Ok Nothanksforaskn, and Storm Caller.

Ok Nothanksforaskn is winless in five starts this year, but managed to end up second behind Malakoff in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes in May. He set the pace before fading in his first turf attempt in the July 15 Toronto Cup Stakes, and was recently third in a tough optional claimer on the inner dirt track.

Emma Wilson picks up the mount on Ok Nothanksforaskn for trainer Lorne Richards, who captured two yearling sales stakes on Monday.

Storm Caller has won three of five races under a variety of conditions, including a recent optional claimer over a sloppy inner track.