09/06/2008 11:00PM

Sealy Hill brings quirks to Canadian


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The quirky Sealy Hill, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, is one of several serious contenders in an outstanding field of fillies and mares in Sunday's $300,000 Canadian Stakes, a supporting feature on Woodbine Mile Day.

Among her opponents are the morning-line 2-1 favorite Forever Together, who is coming off a win in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga, and J'ray, a multiple Grade 3 stakes winner.

Sealy Hill finished a close second in the Grade 2 Canadian last year, which set her up nicely for her runner-up placing in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes.

She has been known to be erratic in some of her races, but is extremely talented. Her antics include bearing in on some occasions, and out on others. She may have won the E.P. Taylor last year but appeared to pull herself up after making the lead.

When she came off the sidelines last spring, Sealy Hill finished last in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland. After ending up third here in the Grade 2 Nassau, she switched to Cushion Track for the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood, and finished a fading fifth behind the undefeated Zenyatta.

Trainer Mark Casse said Sealy Hill gave up in the stretch of the July 5 Vanity, much to the dismay of jockey Patrick Husbands.

"It was a tough spot," said Casse. "Only twice has she had somebody really run by her - Rags to Riches in the Kentucky Oaks, and Zenyatta. Both times when that happened, she just stopped. Patrick said when that happened, he wasn't sure that he was going to get her to the wire. She can be like that."

Casse was content with Sealy Hill's recent victory in a classified allowance. "She didn't have things go her way," said Casse. "She ended up having to come between horses, and that's not her. I thought that was a big race for her."

The Canadian, a nine-furlong grass contest, has lured five American shippers, most notably Forever Together and J'ray.

Forever Together, a stretch-runner trained by Jonathan Sheppard, has evolved into a crack turf runner this year. After winning a minor stakes at Arlington in May, she finished third behind Woodbine Mile contender Ventura in the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont.

Forever Together won the Diana at Saratoga in her last race. Vacare and Wait a While both came out of that prestigious race to capture a Grade 2 stakes. Forever Together will carry high weight of 124 pounds and concede from three to 11 pounds to her rivals.

J'ray is trained by Todd Pletcher, who also entered outsider Danzon.

Callwood Dancer has reached full bloom this year, winning 3 of 4 outings for trainer Roger Attfield. She took the Grade 2 Nassau on the front end, and also got the job done in the allowance prep for the Canadian, scoring from off the pace over favored Quiet Jungle.

"She's really doing well," said Attfield. "I'm really happy with her."