11/27/2009 12:00AM

Simon getting the hang of Ontario


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Stuart Simon had never started a horse at Woodbine when he set up shop here this spring.

A mainstay in Alberta for nearly 20 years, Simon, 46, has won 9 races and had 21 in-the-money finishes from 66 starts here. He will devote all of his energy to Ontario in 2010.

"It was a good year for a guy to get his feet wet," said Simon, who will be saddling his last entrant of the meeting when Instinctiveafleet comes over for Sunday's 11th and final race. "We found out what kinds of horses were needed here and how things work."

The top performer in Simon's barn here was Air Wolf, a 3-year-old gelding he owns with Bill Verbeek and Brent McLellan.

Air Wolf won four of nine starts, climbing the claiming ladder from $16,000 to $40,000, before being put away earlier this month with a seasonal bankroll of $107,078.

"He was one of my horses who got a little bit tired, and it was time to just shut down," said Simon. "I'm not going to bring them over just to watch them run."

Instinctiveafleet is a 3-year-old filly owned by McLellan and Verbeek with James Murphy, a former Daily Racing Form correspondent.

Bred in California, Instinctiveafleet won her maiden for $16,000 in her debut and took a $12,500 conditioned claimer Oct. 3.

Simon also did some claiming here this year and said he was pleased with his acquisition of Danciger, who was taken for $40,000 in May.

Danciger, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly who is owned by McLellan, went on to win her maiden with no tag and finished second or third in five of her seven other starts for Simon.

Meanwhile, Simon and his wife, Valerie, have put their house in Calgary on the market and have started scouting locations for a new home in the Woodbine area.

The Simons also will be visiting the Palm Meadows area with an eye toward setting up an off-season base in Florida following the 2010 Woodbine meeting.

"I'll also be looking to buy some horses or claim some," said Simon. "We have to build up the stable for next year. We've got to look for some better horses."

Red-hot Doyle has two in Ontario Lassie

Trainer Mike Doyle's stable has been on a roll recently. Heading into Friday's program, he had sent out seven winners from 30 starts this month, including first-time starter Sulis in Thursday's opening race.

Doyle had 17 winners and 88 in-the-money finishers from 244 starters at the meeting.

"It's been great," said Doyle. "Things were a little slow earlier, but we've actually ground it out very well."

On Sunday, Doyle will send Tee Game and Shesadozer in the $150,000 Ontario Lassie at 1 1/16 miles for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies.

Tee Game, owned by Geordie Hendrie, will be making her eighth start and trying two turns for the first time. After winning her maiden with a $50,000 tag at 5 1/2 furlongs here Aug. 22, Tee Game was a close third in the Muskoka, a seven-furlong yearling sales stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

In her next start, as the even-money favorite, Tee Game finished last of seven at six furlongs in an entry-level allowance.

"I really liked her, but she ran no good," said Doyle. "She had no excuse."

Tee Game rebounded with a strong effort in the same class four weeks later. She stalked the pace in a seven-furlong race before coming on to score by 1 1/4 lengths.

"Her last start was very good," said Doyle. "She drew off a little bit late. I don't think the 1 1/16 miles will be a problem. I always thought she'd go long."

Shesadozer has proved she can handle 1 1/16 miles, coming off a second-place in the South Ocean for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.

Owned by Doyle with Bill Duffy, Shesadozer also has placed in both the restricted Nandi and Victorian Queen and will be making her eighth start Sunday.

"The way she ran in her last start, we thought we'd take a shot here," said Doyle.

After the meeting ends next Sunday, Doyle will be heading to Palm Meadows.

"I'm going to take a few down there and run a few at Calder and Gulfstream," said Doyle.

His runners there could include Almostoutoftheblue, a 3-year-old filly who was claimed for $10,000 by Doyle.

Almostoutoftheblue, who was looking for her fifth straight victory, finished first but was disqualified and placed second.

Three stakes in meet's final week

The Woodbine meeting will wind up this week with a flurry of races, but hopefully not snow.

Wednesday's evening card will be expanded to nine races, 10 will be offered for Thursday and Friday, 11 for Saturday, and 12 for Sunday with the meet's finale scheduled for approximately 6:30 p.m.

There are three stakes left on the calendar, beginning with the $125,000 Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired colts and geldings. Saturday's feature will be the $150,000 Display, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds. The $150,000 Valedictory, the traditional closing-day feature for 3-year-olds and up, is the longest stakes race of the meet, at 1 3/4 miles.

Torquay, the defending champion in the Valedictory, tuned up for this year's renewal with a five-furlong drill in 1:00 here Friday morning.

A 7-year-old gelding owned and trained by Nick De Toro, Torquay's Valedictory score came in 2007.

Torquay also was entered in last year's Valedictory, but the stakes fell by the wayside after the jockeys voted not to continue riding because of the cold conditions after the second race.