07/24/2008 11:00PM

Sealy Hill in a surprise appearance

Email

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The connections of the majority of the entrants in an allowance race here Sunday were unpleasantly surprised when Sealy Hill, Canada's Horse of the Year in 2007, made an unexpected appearance.

The open one-mile turf allowance is billed as a prep for the $125,000 Victoriana, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares here Aug. 17.

But, with the prep being open to all comers, trainer Mark Casse took advantage of the opportunity and put Sealy Hill's name in the entry box.

"We're just trying to get her on the winning track," said Casse, who has watched Sealy Hill finish no better than third in her three starts this year. "She's been a little unlucky, but she creates a lot of her bad luck. She has no one to blame but herself."

Sealy Hill shipped to California for her last start and finished fifth of seven in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track. The 1 1/8-mile race that was won by the undefeated Zenyatta.

"I wanted to see how we stacked up with the better fillies," said Casse, who trains Sealy Hill for owner/breeder Eugene Melnyk. "She got into a little bit of trouble, but if she'd been running faster she wouldn't have. Her race was a little better than it looked on paper, but not a lot better.

"Now, we're looking at coming back to the grass. If you're going to run in the bigger races in Canada, you've got to run on grass."

Last year Sealy Hill finished second in two of those "big" races, the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor and the Grade 2 Canadian, and also took home Sovereign Awards as the champion turf female and champion 3-year-old filly.

Sunday's race could serve as Sealy Hill's stepping-stone to this year's $300,000 Canadian, which will be run on Sept. 7.

Palmers headed to Breeders' Stakes

Casse plans to start Palmers in next Sunday's $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Palmers, a 3-year-old homebred colt who races for Melnyk Racing Stable, comes into the Breeders' off a close second-place finish in a 1 1/4-mile first-level allowance race that was taken off the turf. In his only try on grass, Palmers finished second in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance at Fair Grounds.

Grazette's Landing and Took the Time, also trained by Casse, are among the 17 nominees for the Breeders', but are aiming for upcoming allowance races.

Winners of first two legs to pass

The list of Breeders' nominees includes Not Bourbon and Harlem Rocker, respective winners of the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales, but neither is scheduled to participate.

Leading candidates for the Breeders' include East End Tap and Pronger, the 2-3 finishers in the Prince of Wales, but East End Tap has never raced on turf, and Pronger has shown little in two starts on the surface.

East End Tap also finished fourth in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate for trainer Reade Baker. Pronger's race in Fort Erie's 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales was by far the best effort of his career.

Pronger's trainer, Mike DePaulo, also plans to send out Deputiformer, who finished fourth in the Queen's Plate and was fifth in the Prince of Wales. Deputiformer's only win came in the Cup and Saucer at 1 1/16 miles on turf here last fall.

Others eyeing the Prince of Wales include Solitaire, Marlang, Cryptonite Kid, Sligovitz, and Mamma's Knight.

Solitaire, a maiden with just three starts, ran third last time out in the Queen's Plate after just missing in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial. Based at Saratoga with trainer Jim Bond, Solitaire finished a closing third in his debut over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Gulfstream this winter.

Marlang, trained by Debbie England, has made his last two starts here in turf stakes, winning the one-mile Charlie Barley but then finishing third behind a pair of American-breds as the favorite in the 1 1/8 mile Toronto Cup.

Cryptonite Kid, trained by Danny Vella, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Charlie Barley, which was just his second start of the season. Last year, Cryptonite Kid finished fourth here in the open Summer Stakes over one mile on turf and then was second, beaten a neck by Deputiformer, in the Cup and Saucer.

Sligovitz, trained by Brian Lynch, defeated Palmers by head in a 1 1/4-mile allowance race here July 12. In his only race on turf, which came in his one-mile debut here last fall, Sligovitz ended a closing fourth.

Mamma's Knight, trained by Sam DiPasquale, finished seventh in the Queen's Plate and then ended third in a second-level Ontario-sired allowance race over 1 1/16 miles here July 9. The Breeders' would be Mamma's Knight's turf debut.

Summer Doldrums hits town

Summer Doldrums, who checked in Friday from New York, should be a serious player here in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Seagram Cup at 1 1/16 miles.

A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old colt trained by Rick Violette, Summer Doldrums is coming off impressive back-to-back scores over the Tapeta track at Presque Isle Downs in his first two tries over an artificial surface.

The most recent victory came in the $174,125 Presque Isle Downs Mile on July 4 and earned Summer Doldrums a Beyer Speed Figure of 94, matching his number in a classified allowance/optional $40,000 claimer over the same distance four weeks earlier.

to serve three-day ban

Jockey Jono Jones will be sitting out this Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday after withdrawing his appeal of a three-day suspension.

There is no racing on Thursday, because of the upcoming long weekend.

The suspension stems from an incident in the third race here July 1 in which the stewards ruled that Jones had come in with his mount, Natural Mystic, and interfered with Box Office Launch during the stretch run.

Natural Mystic finished second but was disqualified and placed last in the field of eight.