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Sid Attard completes Play the King triple
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Sid Attard had saddled the last two winners of the Play the King Stakes, with Jungle Wave prevailing last year after Just Rushing turned the trick in 2008. On Sunday, Attard completed a Play the King triple with Smokey Fire, who outfinished Jungle Wave to score by a neck under new rider Jono Jones in the Grade 2, seven-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and up.
Smokey Fire, a homebred 5-year-old gelding, races for the Jim Dandy Stable of 87-year-old Mel Lawson, who was on hand here Sunday after being inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 19.
“I always liked this horse,” said Attard, who was sending out Smokey Fire for his third stakes victory but his first on turf in the $224,800 Play the King.
“Last year, in his first races, all he wanted to do was go – boom, boom, boom. Now, he’s relaxing.”
Smokey Fire had not made it to the races until last May, when he won his first two starts in front-running fashion.
By year’s end Smokey Fire had come from just off the pace to win the Grade 3 Kennedy Road at six furlongs. He began his current campaign by upsetting the favored Hollywood Hit and Fatal Bullet in the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture.
Smokey Fire came into the Play the King off the first truly disappointing effort of his career, however, as he finished a distant last of seven in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap over six furlongs at Saratoga.
“He didn’t handle the dirt at all,” Attard said. “I worked him last week, and he came back and worked in a minute. He’s a good horse; I think we’ll give him a shot at the Woodbine Mile.”
Nominations will close Wednesday for the Woodbine Mile, a Grade 1, $1 million turf race here Sept. 19.
Both Jungle Wave and Just Rushing followed up their Play the King scores with creditable efforts in the Woodbine Mile, with Jungle Wave ending fourth and Just Rushing third.
Jungle Wave, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old gelding, was game in defeat under jockey Patrick Husbands in the Play the King and probably earned himself another crack at the Woodbine Mile for owners Carlos and Lou Tucci.
“Right now, he’s a hard-luck horse,” said Attard, who watched Jungle Wave run well on the turf when third in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup, second in the Grade 2 Highlander, and second to since sidelined stablemate Utterly Cool in the Play the King prep.
“He tries all the time. I’d love to see him win a race.”
Barracks Road takes Ontario Colleen
Barracks Road and Exclusive Love, both trained by Mark Casse, went off at respective odds of 9-1 and 5-1 here in last Saturday’s $193,900 Ontario Colleen Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. At the end of the one-mile Ontario Colleeen on turf, it was the front-running Barracks Road, under Corey Fraser, in front by 1 3/4 lengths, with Exclusive Love beaten a total of four lengths as the seventh-place finisher under jockey Jim McAleney.
“I was actually surprised how big a price both horses were,” Casse said. “They were both coming out of very good races at Saratoga.”
Barracks Road’s last start came Aug. 7 in the Hattie Moseley, a one-mile overnight turf stakes in which she led to deep stretch before being beaten by a neck as the third-place finisher.
Exclusive Love had run second, beaten by just three-quarters of a length, in the Grade 2 Lake George over 1 1/16 miles of turf July 28 and had returned there for the Aug. 22 Lake Placid but was scratched when that stakes came off the grass.
“I thought both of them had a shot on Saturday,” Casse said. “I don’t know that I preferred one over the other.”
Barracks Road, owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, picked up $120,000 for her Ontario Colleen score and now has banked $278,160.
“I didn’t really think she was getting tired, but late in the stretch she had her ears pricked and I was concerned that she was going to prop or something,” Casse said.
“I think she won a little easier than she was given credit for. When they came to her galloping out, she took off again.”
Barracks Road, a daughter of Elusive Quality, started four times as a 2-year-old, with her best efforts a pair of third-place finishes.
“I’d told Eugene before I ever ran her that she was a really good filly,” Casse said. “She just couldn’t get her act together.”
“But she’s big and strong now. She’s ready for anything you want to throw at her.”
While Casse will confer with Melnyk and the owner’s Winding Oaks farm manager Phil Hronec before finalizing his next step with Barrack’s Road, he believes the filly is not necessarily strictly a turf horse.
“As well as she runs on grass, she trains that well on Polytrack,” Casse said. “I think she can go farther, too.”
Casse has pair for sales stakes
Casse, who was sending out his seventh stakes winner of the meeting, has candidates for a pair of next Monday’s six $125,000 yearling sales stakes in Idratherbeatathespa and Retraceable.
Idratherbeatthespa would be making her first lifetime start in the Muskoka, the seven-furlong yearling sales stakes for 2-year-old fillies, provided that she makes it into the field, which will be limited to 14 based on lifetime earnings.
Casse said Idratherbeatthespa was purchased with the $10,000 yearling sales credit that he earned last year as the trainer of Sound of Thunder, who captured last year’s Muskoka at 41-1 in her first lifetime start.
The trainer also plans to supplement the 4-year-old Retraceable to the Algoma, the 1 1/16-mile yearling sales stakes for fillies and mares.
A $20,000 yearling purchase, Retraceable finished second in the Muskoka and later won the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth in her first campaign.
Retraceable would be heading into the Algoma off a third-place finish under second-level allowance terms at 1 1/16 miles here Aug. 21.
Cavalaris wins NHC qualifier
Michael Cavalaris, son of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Lou Cavalaris, won the Daily Racing Form /National Thoroughbred Racing Association Woodbine Thoroughbred Handicapping Challenge last weekend.
Cavalaris, 50, earned prize money of more than $20,000 plus a berth in the 2011 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Challenge in Las Vegas.
Runner-up Steve Duffield and third-place finisher Eugene Yakura also earned berths in next year’s NHC.