09/29/2008 12:00AM

Sand Cove continues to show he's no slouch


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sand Cove spent the early part of the season in the shadow of a stablemate, Queen's Plate winner Not Bourbon.

But, Sand Cove has burst into the spotlight in recent weeks and recorded his second straight stakes victory here in Sunday's $162,800 Ontario Derby.

Sand Cove, owned by Barbados resident Ralph Johnson and trained by Roger Attfield, had become a stakes winner in the Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds here Aug. 31.

And, while the open 1 1/8-mile Ontario represented a tougher assignment, Sand Cove was equal to the occasion as he earned a hard-fought neck victory under Richard Dos Ramos.

"He's always been a nice horse; he's just getting better," said Roger Attfield. "He'd trained so well, he deserved a shot in this race. He's a tough, tough horse."

Since the Ontario Derby is the last race for 3-year-old males at the meeting, Sand Cove may be cutting back to a mile on the turf for the Bunty Lawless, a race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward here Oct. 12.

Attfield had penciled in the 5-year-old Society's Chairman for the Bunty Lawless but that horse could be redirected to Saturday's Grade 1 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland.

"If it looks like we're going to be competitive in there, we're going to go," said Attfield.

Society's Chairman, who had finished a close second behind Rahy's Attorney in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup over 1 1/16 miles of turf here May 25, became a stakes winner last time out in the Halton, a yearling sales stakes over one mile of grass.

Society's Chairman breezed five furlongs in a bullet 59.20 seconds on the main track here Sunday.

Rahy's Attorney, who went on the win the Woodbine Mile for trainer Ian Black, definitely is heading for the Shadwell Mile and breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 over the main turf course here Sunday.

Slade Callaghan, Rahy's Attorney's regular rider, was aboard for the drill and will travel to Keeneland for the race.

Sugar Bay earns career-best Beyer

Sugar Bay recorded her fourth straight win and third straight stakes score in last Saturday's $188,200 La Lorgnette, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

A homebred who races for George Strawbridge Jr. and is trained by Mac Benson, Sugar Bay prevailed over seven furlongs of Polytrack in the Duchess, won over one mile of turf in the Ontario Colleen, and was registering her first two-turn success in the La Lorgnette.

Chantal Sutherland was in the saddle on Saturday as Sugar Bay recorded a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 92.

"I don't know if that was her best race, but she showed up with her 'A' game," said Benson, who now has sent out Sugar Bay to win 5 of 8 starts and $471,660 this season.

"[Sutherland] never really asked her; she just let her. She did hit her once, to keep her mind on business."

Sugar Bay is nominated to the $150,000 Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies here Oct. 11, and Benson is not ruling out an appearance there.

"The La Lorgnette was still a race; it took something out of her," said Benson. "I don't want to make a lot of plans."

Ginger Brew won't make Carotene

Sugar Bay's recent success has thrust her into the Sovereign Award picture for her division with her key protagonist being Ginger Brew, who has made just two starts in Canada this season and needs one more to meet the eligibility requirement.

Ginger Brew, owned and bred by Stronach Stable and trained by Brian Lynch, won the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks and then finished second in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate to bring her seasonal earnings to $662,295.

Sent to the farm following the June 22 Queen's Plate, Ginger Brew returned to the racetrack a couple of weeks ago and breezed four furlongs in 47.40 seconds on Saturday.

Lynch, however, said Sunday that Ginger Brew will not be ready for the Carotene, which would have been her last stakes opportunity within her own age group at the meeting.

River Memories next for Saskawea

Saskawea, making just her third start of the season, upset Saturday's $109,100 Avowal, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares over seven furlongs of turf.

"We'll have to try to avoid the bounce now," said Steve Attard, who trains Saskawea. "She should be fine. She's a fresh horse right now."

Saskawea is slated to make her next start in the $100,000 River Memories, a one-mile overnight turf stakes for fillies and mares here Oct. 18.

"Hopefully we'll get a couple more races into her, and then I'll take her to Florida myself this winter," said Attard."

Saskawea, who had spent the off season away from her trainer, since has undergone throat surgery and experienced problems with a pus pocket.

But her luck has not been nearly as bad as that of her stablemate Sweet Breanna, who missed all of 2007 and made just one start this year before being retired to the breeding shed with a broken hip.

"It's been a disastrous year, with these two mares," said Attard. "Saturday was really sweet."

Bear Bullet Too excluded from Avowal

While sweet for Attard the Avowal was a sour experience for trainer Reade Baker, who had entered Bear Bullet Too but did not get to participate due to a series of unfortunate circumstances.

The problems began on entry day when 16 fillies were entered for the Avowal and two were placed on the also-eligible list.

The rankings were based on weights first and earnings second, and the first glitch occurred when Bedarra, a 3-year-old filly, was included in the main body of the race due to an erroneous reading of the scale of weights.

Bear Bullet Too, who had earned more money than Bedarra, had been the first also-eligible and appeared to have inherited a starting position when Bedarra was scratched the previous day.

But the plot thickened when the Woodbine racing department determined that the Avowal in fact should have been limited to 12 entrants, due to safety considerations associated with the lane in use on the turf course.

That meant that two more horses had to go.

Attfield, who had three entrants in the race, already had planned to scratch Sudsy Baby.

Early Saturday afternoon, Baker was informed that Bear Bullet Too was getting the boot.

"I am not happy," said Baker, who got the unwelcome news at Turfway Park, where he later sent out Fatal Bullet and Bear Now to win stakes and book their passages to the Breeders' Cup.