07/11/2007 11:00PM

Sam-Son has grip on Toronto Cup


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A Toronto Cup just wouldn't seem to be a Toronto Cup without the participation of Sam-Son Farm, Mark Frostad, and Todd Kabel.

And Saturday's running of the Toronto Cup will not disappoint on that count as Kabel and Windward Islands, who is trained by Frostad, will fly the Sam-Son colors in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

Since the year 2000, Sam-Son and Frostad have won each of the five Toronto Cups in which they participated. Think Red began the streak in 2000 and was followed by Strut the Stage (2001), Portcullis (2002), Silver Ticket (2004), and French Beret (2006).

Kabel was aboard all of the Sam-Son winners except Portcullis, who had Slade Callaghan in the irons. Kabel also won the Toronto Cup in the non-Sam-Son years, with Mobil in 2003 and T.D. Vance in 2005.

Windward Islands is coming into the Toronto Cup off a nose defeat in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf here June 22.

"He's only had the one start this year, but it was a pretty decent start," said Frostad. "I think he's competitive here. Hopefully, he's tight enough."

Windward Islands won his maiden in an off-the-turf race at a mile and 70 yards and finished second in an open allowance race at 1 1/16 miles during a four-start 2-year-old campaign that ended Nov. 25.

Frostad had been looking forward to starting Windward Islands on the grass, noting that the gelding was sired by Cozzene and that his full sister Deveron finished third in a Group 1 stakes in France.

Also, Windward Islands will race with blinkers for the first time in the Toronto Cup.

"It's just to straighten him out a bit, get him a little more focused," said Frostad.

Husbands books another chopper

Last year jockey Patrick Husbands finished fifth aboard the 18-1 Cassia Heights here in the Shady Well and then hopped aboard a helicopter for a 40-minute ride Fort Erie, where he rode Royal Challenger in the Prince of Wales.

Sunday's renewal of the Shady Well, like last year's, will go as the fourth race, and Husbands and his agent, Gary Kemplen, have made similar travel arrangements.

This time, however, Husbands will be piloting the odds-on Alvena in the $125,000 Shady Well, a 5 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies.

Husbands's partner for the $500,000 Prince of Wales will be Marchfield, who finished sixth in the Queen's Plate and is 8-1 on the morning line for the six-horse Prince of Wales.

Royal Challenger to wait a bit longer

Royal Challenger was 34-1 in last year's Prince of Wales and finished a closing fourth before being moved up to third upon the disqualification of his stablemate Malakoff from first to fifth place.

This year, Royal Challenger has finished sixth in the Grade 3 Eclipse at 1 1/16 miles and a close second in the Singspiel, an open overnight stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

While Royal Challenger is nominated to the Grade 2, $700,000 Northern Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward here July 22, his trainer, Brian Lynch, is inclined to await an easier spot.

"He's doing really well, but it would only be his third race back," said Lynch, who trains Royal Challenger for Stronach Stable. "I don't want to get too creative with him."

Lynch is looking at the $75,000 With Approval, a 1 1/8-mile overnight turf stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds and upward here Aug. 12, for Royal Challenger's next appearance.

Meanwhile, Malakoff has not raced since last year's Prince of Wales after undergoing surgery to have a chip removed from his sesamoid.

"He's in full training up at the farm right now," said Lynch at trackside here Thursday morning. "We'd decided pretty much from the word go to give him a year before we brought him back in."

Hartack to speak next Thursday

Bill Hartack, who rode Northern Dancer to victory in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Queen's Plate in his championship 1964 campaign, will be the special guest speaker here Thursday when the field is drawn for the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup.

The loaded July 22 card also will feature the Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8 mile turf race for fillies and mares; the $125,000 Ontario Matron, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares; and the Bold Venture, a 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Hartack, a steward in Louisiana, also will be available for a one-hour autograph session beginning at 12 p.m. here July 22 on the second floor of the grandstand.

One hour earlier, Jennifer Morrison will be joining Daily Racing Form handicapper Dan Illman for a one-hour handicapping seminar focusing on the Northern Dancer Day card.

Morrison, who is Woodbine's oddsmaker and a regular DRF contributor, also will host a one-hour backstretch tour beginning at 11 a.m. July 21.

This backstretch tour, limited to 75 people, is fully booked, but spots for the next tour on Aug. 18 can be reserved by calling (416) 675-3993, ext. 2513.

* Jockeys Chantal Sutherland and Na Somsanith will serve suspensions this coming week after their appeals of earlier rulings were denied. Sutherland will sit out Wednesday through Friday, while Somsanith's days run Wednesday through Sunday.