10/07/2009 11:00PM

Silly Fella finally decides to get serious

Four-Footed Fotos
Silly Fella upset last Sunday's Jack Diamond Futurity, paying $44.40.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - When Silly Fella ran off and romped by 8 3/4 lengths to win the $106,000 Jack Diamond Futurity last Sunday at Hastings, it conjured up memories of his dam, Grey Tobe Free, winning the Grade 3 Ballerina by eight lengths in 2001.

Both winners also paid generous prices. Silly Fella rewarded his backers with a $44.40 mutuel. Grey Tobe Free paid $41.

Silly Fella went into the Futurity as an improving horse, and with top local juvenile Huitzilopochtli not entered, he didn't have that horse to deal with early. In his last start, Silly Fella set fast fractions while under pressure from Huitzilopochtli before tiring to finish fourth in the CTHS Sales Stakes. Trainer Lenore Daponte was hoping Silly Fella's new rider, Chad Hoverson, would be able to get him to relax early.

"We had been working on getting him to rate, and I thought if Chad could get him under control early he could run a big race," Daponte said. "Actually, I have to give a lot of credit to Dave Wilson. Davie was on him for his last work and he really taught him a lot. It was a shame he couldn't ride him."

Wilson missed riding last weekend because he was in the hospital with a case of acute pancreatitis. Wilson was released from the hospital last week but won't be taking calls this weekend. According to his agent, Daryl Snow, it's possible Wilson will be back to ride the following weekend.

Daponte is pointing Silly Fella to the $100,000 Ascot Graduation on Oct. 25, when he will again have to deal with the undefeated Huitzilopochtli. Both horses will be stretching out to 1 1/16 miles for the first time.

"He came out of the race in great shape and he just keeps getting better," she said. "He's still a work in progress but he's really coming along quickly now. He's a big, strong horse, so I think he should be able to go long."

Anyone watching Silly Fella working earlier this year probably wondered what was going on with all of the noise he was making.

"He's like a big baby and he was crying," said Daponte. "Who knows why, and he still does it occasionally, even during a race. He's pretty high on himself after his big win and he is maturing, so maybe he'll stop doing it now."

Hoverson, who had never seen Silly Fella before he got on him in the paddock, thinks he'll be able to stretch out.

"He was a lot more manageable than I expected," said Hoverson. "From what everyone was telling me I thought he would be a lot harder to rate."

It was the fourth win in the Jack Diamond Futurity for owners Nick and Pauline Felicella. Inducted into the British Columbia Horse Racing of Fame last year, the Felicellas are always among the top buyers at the local yearling sale. They paid $26,000 for Silly Fella last year.

Vying Ty Grr may try Fantasy

Trainer Barbara Heads is looking at trying to get Vying Ty Grr to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the $100,000 Fantasy on Oct. 24. Vying Ty Grr rebounded from a dull effort in the Lassie Stakes to win the $106,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity last Saturday. Prior to her fifth-place finish in the Lassie, Vying Ty Grr had scored an easy 5 1/4-length win over Emerald City in the B.C. Cup Debutante.

"It was nice to see her get back on form," said Heads. "She had an excuse in the Lassie, but sometimes you don't know how much of an excuse it really is."

Jersey Town headed to Keeneland

Heads also reported that Jersey Town, second in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby on Sept. 27, is on his way to Keeneland for the Grade 3, $125,000 Bryan Station on Oct. 18. The Bryan Station is a one-mile race on grass for 3-year-olds. Jersey Town is owned by Chuck Fipke. According to Heads, Jersey Town left on Wednesday morning for Kentucky, where he will be reunited with trainer Barclay Tagg.

"We talked it over with Chuck and it makes a lot more sense to send him back to Barclay," said Heads. "All that's left here is an allowance race, and the Premiers isn't the spot for him; it's too far. He proved he's a pretty nice horse in the derby and there are lots of options for him back East."

Tommy Danzigger gets time off

Tommy Danzigger also won't be running in the 1 3/8-mile Premiers. Sent off as the even-money favorite in the Grade 3 B.C. Derby, Tommy Danzigger ran an uncharacteristically poor race, finishing seventh. He had won the Grade 3 Canadian Derby in his previous start.

"We discovered something coming out of the race that was hard to detect," said trainer Rob Gilker. "I thought he was the best horse going into the race and I knew there had to be a reason for his dull performance. It's just a minor problem, so we'll give him the rest of the year off and he should be a better horse next year."