07/28/2005 11:00PM

Royal Regalia skips the trip, wins at home


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Royal Regalia had been entered in Saturday's Sussex, at Delaware Park, and trainer Justin Nixon had been ready to hit the road for the gelding's first start of the season.

But in the meantime Nixon had entered Royal Regalia in a money allowance here Thursday, and when that 1 1/16-mile turf race filled, the trip became unnecessary.

"I was glad to be able to race him here, and not have a 12-hour ship," said Nixon, who trains the 7-year-old gelding for Stronach Stable.

Royal Regalia enhanced Nixon's happiness when he controlled the pace in the Thursday allowance feature and led throughout for a 1 1/2-length tally under Jono Jones. His Beyer Speed Figure of 99 wasn't far off his career best of 104.

But, more importantly, Thursday's race gets Royal Regalia rolling toward his serious targets, the Sept. 18 Atto Mile here and the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont.

"It was a good way to start off the year," said Nixon. "It wasn't a real pressing race. If someone had gone with him early, it might have been a little bit harder on him. He came out of it in good order; he's excellent."

Nixon hopes to get one more start into Royal Regalia before the Atto Mile, and mentioned the Grade 2, $200,000 Fourstardave, a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Saratoga on Aug. 27, as a serious possibility.

Royal Regalia ran third in last year's Fourstardave, which was his second start of that campaign, and went on to finish a bang-up third in the Atto Mile.

Although he was entered in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star, Royal Regalia did not make the starting lineup and had to settle for a victory in the Texas Turf on Breeders' Cup Day.

Autumn Snow is in, Ablo out

The $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, the 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, will be featured here next Sunday.

Wild Desert, winner of the Queen's Plate but third in the Prince of Wales, is nominated to the Breeders', but his status is uncertain now that the injury to Afleet Alex has scrambled the 3-year-old picture south of the border.

Ablo and Autumn Snow, the one-two finishers in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, also are on the Breeders' list and worked five furlongs on the turf training track here Friday morning with mixed results.

Roger Attfield, who trains Ablo, was disappointed with the colt's exercise and has ruled out starting in the Breeders'.

"I wasn't that happy with his performance this morning," said Attfield, after watching Ablo breeze in 1:02.20 under regular rider Gerry Olguin. "It puts that out of my mind, of looking for a turf race for him."

Mac Benson, who conditions Autumn Snow, pronounced the gelding on target for the Breeders' after he prepped in 1:00.80.

"I'll probably blow him out two days before the race," said Benson. "That's what I did last time, and he ran so well."

Francine Villeneuve, based at Fort Erie, picked up the mount on Autumn Snow for the Prince of Wales and will be back aboard for the Breeders'.

"She rode him very well," said Benson. "She wants to come up, and there's no reason why she can't."

Victorious Ami needs a boost in turf form

My Vintage Port finished third in the Woodbine Oaks and Bison City last year before capturing the Wonder Where, the 1 1/4-mile turf race that is the final leg of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Looking to follow that blueprint here in Sunday's renewal of the Wonder Where will be Victorious Ami, who was well adrift of the top two finishers in this year's Oaks and Bison City.

My Vintage Port had to turn the tables on Oaks winner Eye of the Sphynx and Bison City winner Touchnow in the Wonder Where. Victorious Ami will not have either Oaks winner Gold Strike or Bison City winner Ready and Alluring to contend with here Sunday, although Bison City runner-up Skippingall Theway is among her opponents.

Company aside, Victorious Ami has yet to prove herself on turf, having finished a distant 11th in her only try on the course here last fall. One start later, she became a stakes winner in the Princess Elizabeth at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

"She trains real well on turf, but obviously didn't run very well her first start on it," said David Bell. "She's got some turf pedigree, so we'll give it another try.

"I don't think the distance will bother her at all. She just keeps one-pacing it, and is improving all the time."

Noble Stella preps for start at Monmouth

Noble Stella, upset winner of the Grade 3 Dance Smartly in her last start here, also worked on the turf for Attfield here Friday morning, going five furlongs in 1:02.20 under assistant trainer Rachel Halden.

"She went beautifully," said Attfield, who trains Noble Stella for Gary Tanaka.

Noble Stella is slated to ship to Monmouth for next Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Matchmaker. The Matchmaker, like the Dance Smartly, is a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Emile Ramsammy, who rode Noble Stella for the first time in the Dance Smartly, retains the mount.

* Woodbine will offer simulcast wagering on Monday's $100,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby from Assiniboia Downs. Post time for the Manitoba Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, is approximately 5:45 p.m. Eastern.