08/13/2010 2:22PM

Silent Wisper taking on males in Breeders'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mike Keogh and owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz already have had their downs and ups on the Canadian triple crown trail this season, with Artic Fern being sidelined just before the Queen’s Plate and Mobil Unit coming up big with a second-place finish in the Prince of Wales.

On Sunday, Keogh and Schickedanz will be looking for a happy ending when Silent Wisper takes on the boys in the $500,000 Breeders’, the 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the finale of the series for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Sired by Wando, who gave Keogh and Schickedanz a Canadian triple crown in 2003, Silent Wisper won one of six starts as a 2-year-old with that success coming in her second attempt around two turns.

“I’d thought that she’d break her maiden, but I wasn’t sure what she’d do after that,” said Keogh, who had watched Silent Wisper finish a well-beaten seventh concluding her first campaign in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth.

Silent Wisper wintered with Keogh on the Schickedanz spread in South Carolina.

“She’d trained well down there, and we kept her eligible for the [Woodbine] Oaks, but her races were a little lackluster so we scrapped that idea.

“I just don’t think she ‘Polytracks’ any more.”

After opening up her 3-year-old campaign with a fifth-place finish in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs, Silent Wisper ended well back in two 1 1/16-mile races in the same classification.

Keogh then turned his attention to the Woodbine turf course, the surface over which Silent Wisper had finished fifth in her only attempt as a 2-year-old in the seven-furlong prep for the Natalma.

“She got into a speed duel there, which didn’t work out great,” said Keogh. “We didn’t learn anything from it.”

Silent Wisper’s return to the turf has been revitalizing, however, as she finished second when racing out of her conditions in a second-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles and then romped when back in her proper classification at 1 1/4 miles.

Both races were contested over “good” surfaces, and Keogh has made no secret of the fact that he would welcome a good rainfall.

No Explaining, trained by Roger Attfield, defeated Silent Wisper on the first occasion and has come back to finish an unlucky third in the Grade 2 Lake George over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Saratoga.

“She galloped out in front of Roger’s filly that day, and in the mile and a quarter race she galloped out in front of everybody,” said Keogh.

The $250,000 Wonder Where, the 1 1/4-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds that is the third leg of Canada’s triple tiara, was coming up just one week after Silent Wisper’s last start and the decision was made to nominate the filly to the Breeders’ at a cost of $12,500.

Apprentice rider Omar Moreno has ridden Silent Wisper in her last three starts and will be looking for his first stakes win in the Breeders’.

“He gets along with her,” said Keogh, who also believes that the front-running style that Silent Wisper has displayed in her last two starts is not necessarily her only weapon.

“She doesn’t need the lead,” said Keogh. “It’s not like we’re sending her – she just comes out of there running.”

Mobil Unit pointed for Vice Regent

Mobil Unit, who was nominated to the Breeders’, ran well on the grass last year with a maiden win at six furlongs, a close fourth in the Grade 3 Summer at one mile, and a third in the Cup and Saucer at 1 1/16 miles.

But, after watching Mobil Unit in Fort Erie’s 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, Keogh elected to await a less-demanding journey.

“I didn’t think he got the trip in the Prince of Wales,” said Keogh. “At the eighth pole, it was looking like he was going to be fifth but he fought back.

“I was afraid that if he ran in the Breeders’ he’d go to the lead and burn himself out.”

Mobil Unit instead is pointing for the $125,000 Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds here Sept. 5 in which he would loom large.

Arctic Fern still sidelined

Artic Fern, who was coming off impressive back-to-back wins around two turns and would have been one of the favorites for the Queen’s Plate, emerged from his final tune-up with a problem which put an end to his quest.

Although a nuclear scan revealed some areas of concern, a series of X-rays found nothing amiss.

“We can’t find anything wrong with him,” said Keogh. “He’s sound; he must have just bone-bruised.

“We’ll start hand-walking him in the shed, and slowly start him back up. But, he’s not going to run again here this year.”

Alphabet Kid among supplemented

Fillies have a history of success in the Breeders’, with 11 having won since the race was run at its current distance since the Canadian triple crown was inaugurated in1959.

Roger Attfield, who holds the record for Breeders’ Stakes wins with eight, has sent out four of those successful fillies.

Attfield also took last year’s renewal with Perfect Shower, a 46-1 chance who was coming into the Breeders’ off a $25,000 maiden claiming score.

His Breeders’ entrant this year, Alphabet Kid, will be making just his second lifetime start after finishing sixth in an off-the-turf maiden race over 1 1/4 miles here July 25 for his owner Dick Bonnycastle.

“He was disappointing first time, for sure,” said Attfield. “But the horse has just been working very, very well on turf.”

“He acts like he wants to run really long, and I haven’t been able to find a long race on turf for him.

“So, I’m taking a real flyer. I talked to Mr. Bonnycastle and told him a I had a gut feeling that the horse might run okay. It looks like a wide-open race.”

Alphabet Kid was one of five supplements to the Breeders’, at a cost of $12,500.

In addition to the previously mentioned Silent Wisper, the others supplemented were maidens Miami Deco and Vicar Street and one-time winner Smart Sky.No maiden has won the Breeders’ since the Canadian triple crown was inaugurated in 1959.Last year, the 13-horse field for the Breeders’ included maidens Full Throttle, Mensch, and Hisaki.