09/29/2006 12:00AM

Seaside Retreat going from turf to Polytrack


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The last time Seaside Retreat raced on a surface other than turf was the Kentucky Derby.

On Sunday, Seaside Retreat will be returning to a main track and a derby of a different sort in the Ontario Derby, which will be run over 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack here at Woodbine.

Seaside Retreat, a Kentucky-bred owned by Bill Farish Jr. and trained by Mark Casse, has started three times on turf since finishing 10th of 20 in the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

On June 25, again facing fellow 3-year-olds, Seaside Retreat was a comfortable winner of the one-mile Charlie Barley here at his Woodbine base.

On July 15, Seaside Retreat traveled to Colonial Downs and finished second in the Grade 2, $1 million Virginia Derby at 1 1/4 miles.

In his last start, meeting older rivals over 1 1/2 miles of yielding going in the Nijinsky here Aug. 27, Seaside Retreat ended fifth of eight, was beaten 5 1/4 lengths while ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson.

"He came out of that last race really, really body-sore," said Casse. "That race was very tough on him. I don't think he handled the soft turf. He doesn't handle a deep racetrack, of any sort.

Casse notes that Seaside Retreat has just one recorded workout since the Nijinsky, having prepped five furlongs from the gate under regular rider Patrick Husbands on Polytrack here Sept. 17.

"Patrick said he was very happy with him," said Casse, who was at the Keeneland sales at the time.

"But, more importantly, I watched him train on Wednesday, and I haven't seen him train so good since the Derby. He was just magnificent.

Seaside Retreat also ran well on Turfway Park's Polytrack surface this spring, finishing second in the Grade 2 Lanes End over 1 1/8 miles.

"It's two different Polytracks, just like two different turf courses," said Casse.

"But, he seems to like it quite well here. For the most part, horses seem to really enjoy it."

Disappointment in La Lorgnette

Top Notch Lady, winner of the Grade 3 Bourbonette at Turfway Park this March, did not translate that Polytrack performance into a particularly successful result here in last Saturday's La Lorgnette.

Casse believes, however, that there were extenuating circumstances when Top Notch Lady finished sixth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, under Husbands in the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette.

"She's a big horse - she doesn't have a real quick turn of foot, and she kind of gets her momentum going,"said Casse.

"She got stopped for about a sixteenth of a mile, when she was making her run"

Looking south with Kimchi

Kimchi, a stablemate of Top Notch Lady's who is the leader of the local Canadian-bred 3-year-old filly division, also was entered in the La Lorgnette but was scratched.

"She was a little under the weather last week," said Casse. "She's fine now."

With no appropriate spots remaining for Kimchi on her division's stakes calendar here, Casse will be looking at 3-year-old filly stakes south of the border.

More stakes runners

Casse also has plans to have starters in two stakes here next week, with Dashingalltheway set for the $125,000 Victorian Queen on Wednesday and Skip Code headed for the $250,000 Grey on the Monday, Oct. 9, holiday program.

The Victorian Queen is a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies, while the Grey is a Grade 3, 1o1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.

Saturday's feature will be the $150,000 Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

Essential Edge, a leading candidate for the Carotene, shipped in from her Chiefswood Farm base Friday to work five furlongs in 1:00, the fastest of 54 works at the distance.

Trained by Eric Coatrieux, Essential Edge is heading into the Carotene off an impressive four-length score in the Ontario Colleen over one mile on yielding turf here Sept. 2.

The $75,000 Mt. Sassafras, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds and upward, will be offered on Sunday, but it is an overnight stakes and will require a minimum of five separate wagering interests to be carded.

In addition to the Grey, Monday's Thanksgiving Day program will include the $125,000 Classy N' Smart, a 1 1/16 mile race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares.

Financingavailabe, who looms as the one to beat in the Classy n' Smart, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 here Friday.

Bill Stewart dead at 77

Bill Stewart, an owner and trainer on the Ontario circuit for more than 50 years, died at age 77 in Mississauga's Trillium Health Centre on Wednesday. He had been suffering from heart problems.

Visitation was scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Turner and Porter Chapel at 2180 Hurontario Street .

Stewart's most celebrated runner was Mr. Hot Shot, who was claimed for $32,000 in the fall of 1987 and went on to win six stakes and be Canada's champion sprinter of 1989.

His sister and longtime assistant, Myhill Stewart, is the mother of jockey Stewart Elliot.