08/13/2010 2:06PM

Sam-Son loaded for final leg of Canadian Triple Crown

Michael Burns
Cognashene gallops Friday at Woodbine in preparation for Sunday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Sam-Son Farm has won the Breeders’ Stakes five times, but not since Portcullis got the job done in 2002. The drought could end Sunday at Woodbine, when the powerful stable runs Cognashene, Born to Act, and Empire Rising in the $500,000 third and longest leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, over 1 1/2 miles on the grass.

The first two Triple Crown race winners, Big Red Mike and Golden Moka, have both bypassed the Breeders’. Big Red Mike captured the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate on Polytrack here July 4, and Golden Moka took the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales Stakes on the dirt at Fort Erie on July 25.

Cognashene, a late bloomer trained by Malcolm Pierce, is exiting a 4 1/2-length maiden win going 1 1/4 miles on turf. His quick final clocking of 2:03.17 translated into an 82 Beyer Speed Figure.

After some bad luck, Pierce said, things went smoothly for Cognashene in his maiden victory.

“He got the distance that he likes, and he finally got a clean trip,” Pierce said. “He had some trouble in his two races before he broke his maiden. I thought he should have won his second-last race. He’s a bit of a plodder. He’s one-paced, but he’ll keep going. You just can’t get him stopped and get him going again. He breaks well, but then he just falls back and takes his time.”

Pierce said the lengthy Breeders’ distance should suit Cognashene, who is by Dynaformer and out of Canadian Oaks winner Catch the Ring.

“My least concern is the distance of the race,” Pierce said. “I’m very happy with the ways the horse is doing. He’s going into the race in good order, and he’s fresh, too. He hasn’t run in six weeks. We could have run him in the Toronto Cup, but we decided to go in here with a fresh horse, because it’s a grueling race.”

Born to Act and Empire Rising are both trained by Mark Frostad.

Born to Act is coming off a third-place finish in the Toronto Cup Stakes in just his third start.

“I think he’s a mile-and-a-half-type horse,” Frostad said. “He’s getting better. He’s improving all the time.”

Born to Act is closely related to the Grade 2-winning turf expert Strut the Stage, but Frostad said the colt looks more like another Sam-Son great, 1996 Breeders’ winner Chief Bearhart.

“He’s built more like Chief Bearhart, who’s in his third dam,” Frostad explained. “He’s a longer, light horse, whereas Strut the Stage is close-coupled and quite chunky.”

Empire Rising captured a 1 1/16-mile maiden special on the Polytrack in his last race. Frostad said Empire Rising was too keen in his only turf try, an eighth last fall in the Cup and Saucer Stakes.

“He had blinkers on that day and was a little rank while up on the pace,” Frostad said. “Hopefully, we can throw it out.”
Trainer Ian Black sends out the speedy Stormy Lord and the laid-back D’s Wando.

Stormy Lord should be well-backed off his determined score in the nine-furlong Toronto Cup. He was previously second in the one-mile Charlie Barley Stakes.

Stormy Lord must avoid a speed duel with the quick filly Silent Wisper if he’s to be successful.

D’s Wando trailed the 13-horse field in the first Triple Crown race, the Queen’s Plate, and is exiting a fourth in the Toronto Cup.

Silent Wisper, like D’s Wando, is by 2003 Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando. She established a substantial early lead last time in a 1 1/4-mile maiden special on the grass before holding on for a three-length victory.

Fillies have won four of the past 20 runnings of the Breeders’, but none has won since Sweetest Thing in 2001.
Dynamic Royal ran evenly to end up fourth in the July 3 Charlie Barley, which came on the heels of his maiden win on Polytrack.

Smart Sky finished seventh in the Queen’s Plate, and seventh in his only grass outing, which came in a nine-furlong maiden special at Gulfstream.

Smart Sky is one of five supplements in the 13-horse field, along with Miami Deco, Alphabet Kid, Vicar Street, and Silent Wisper.