06/17/2009 11:00PM

Shadowless out to emerge on turf in Highlander

Email

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Queen's Plate, with its pomp and circumstance, will attract a following beyond the usual racing sphere on the occasion of its 150th running here Sunday.

But while this Queen's Plate comes with plenty of allure, the Highlander, a Grade 3, $200,000 turf sprint for 3-year-olds and upward, actually is looming as the race of the day from a handicapping and wagering standpoint.

Mr. Nightlinger, Heros Reward, Smart Enough, and True to Tradition are among the best turf sprinters in North America and will be holding a summit meeting here in the six-furlong Highlander.

Heros Reward, Smart Enough, and True to Tradition all are graded sprint stakes winners over the course, while Mr. Nightlinger will be making his local debut.

Yankee Injunuity, while not as well known as that quartet, is coming off a strong second-place finish behind the crack turf sprinter Chamberlain Bridge at Indiana Downs.

All of this leaves Shadowless, who is based here with trainer David Bell, somewhat in the shadows despite his victory in the Highlander prep here June 3.

"I was very happy with his race there," said Bell, who saw Shadowless leave the favored True to Tradition 1 1/4 lengths back in third in winning the six-furlong turf allowance. "He did it all right, and won with his ears pricked."

Shadowless, owned and bred by Heather Takahashi, ran in the Queen's Plate last year, finishing 11th of 14.

"He didn't want to go a mile and a quarter," said Bell. "I was kind of happy he was able to rebound from the grind. Sometimes, it takes a lot out of them."

Shadowless had returned to first-level allowance sprints following the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, finishing third and then fourth before trying the grass for the first time and winning out his first two conditions at 6 1/2 furlongs and seven furlongs.

"I'd always wanted to try the grass with him, but I wasn't going to do it when I was going to the Plate," said Bell.

Those first turf efforts seemed part of a general upswing in the fortunes of Shadowless, however, as the gelding went on to place in overnight stakes on Polytrack and turf before winding up his campaign with an upset score in the Grade 3 Kennedy Road at six furlongs on the main track.

"That was a good race," said Bell. "It wasn't an easy spot. But, I still thought he was better on turf."

With the 2009 grass racing season not beginning until late May, Shadowless raced three times on Polytrack, with his best effort a near-miss in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier two races before his sharp closing score in the Highlander prep.

Justin Stein, who has been his regular rider since the Kennedy Road, will be back aboard Shadowless in the Highlander.

Field Commission looking sharp

Field Commission will be trying the turf for the first time, but is another local who could make some noise in the Highlander.

A 4-year-old colt owned by Ed Seltzer in partnership with trainer Danny Vella, Field Commission became a stakes winner last time out at 27-1 in the Grade 3 Vigil, leaving Shadowless three lengths back in sixth.

"His action on it says he could like the turf," said Vella, who sent out Field Commission to breeze on grass for the first time and clock four furlongs in 47.80 on the training track turf course here June 7. "He seems to be in tip-top shape. My biggest concern is if the turf's going to come up soft."

Coastalvin has blood disorder

Costalivin, who had been heading for the Queen's Plate, was not entered on Thursday morning after tests revealed a blood disorder.

"He came up with a bad blood profile," said John Ross, who conditions Costalivin for the Jam-Jar Racing Stable of Bud and Jackie Reynolds. "His hemoglobin count was way down.

"It's disappointing. We came a long way to get this far, but you've got to go to these races 100 percent, and you've got to do what's best for the horse. It will probably take 10 days to get his blood back up."

Costalivin had finished seventh, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial after finding himself on an unaccustomed early lead through a slow pace.

The Ontario-bred colt had won his only other two attempts around two turns, both in restricted company at 1 1/16 miles.

Parabola will settle for turf mile

Trainer Barbara Minshall had hoped to make the Queen's Plate with Parabola but has had to settle for the Charlie Barley, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds over one mile on turf here Saturday.

Owned and bred by Janet Jeanpierre, Parabola had concluded his first campaign with a win in the restricted Kingarvie at 1 1/16 miles but has disappointed badly in his two starts this year.

After ending last of seven in the seven-furlong Queenston, Parabola emerged from his last-of-six finish in the 1 1/16 mile Marine here May 16 with an infection which basically ended his Queen's Plate quest.

"I don't feel comfortable running him in the Plate, off such a long layoff," said Minshall, "But, he's definitely fit enough to run a mile. He's never been on the grass, except for grazing on it, but he has a fair amount of turf pedigree."

* Advance wagering on the full Queen's Plate card will be available at 3 p.m. on Saturday at all Woodbine Entertainment Group locations. Pick three, pick four, and pick six betting will not open until the live Woodbine program has concluded, at approximately 6 p.m.

* The Queen's Plate returned to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's fold last year, and Sunday's telecast will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The race will be presented in high definition and also will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca. Ron MacLean will host the Queen's Plate show and will be joined by Diana Swain and Woodbine's television regulars Jim Bannon, Renee Kierans and Sandy Hawley. Woodbine's announcer, Dan Loiselle, will call the race for the 23rd consecutive year.