06/12/2006 11:00PM

Sir Blitz is claimer of the year


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sir Blitz, who put together a four-race win streak over Woodbine's turf course last summer, is the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club's claimer of the year.

The TTRC will honor Sir Blitz, along with some of Woodbine's other top performers of 2005, at its annual awards day here Sunday.

Sir Blitz, a 7-year-old gelding, is owned by his trainer, Danny Vella, in partnership with Greg Broadhurst and Selena Barber.

"He's just a very solid horse," said Vella. "Every time he goes out there, he runs hard."

Sir Blitz started seven times in 2005, compiling a record of 4-1-1 while earning $151,105. All of his starts came on the turf and for claiming prices ranging from $40,000 to $60,000.

"Last year, everything clicked, that's for sure," said Vella. "But he's aging, and each year you don't know if he's going to be at the same level."

Sir Blitz hasn't had a genuine opportunity to display his true colors this season, as he wound up racing in two main-track sprints which were originally scheduled for turf.

"This year's been a disaster," said Vella. "He got stuck twice on the dirt."

Other honorees

The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club also will honor Emma-Jayne Wilson, Woodbine's leading jockey and leading apprentice jockey; Sid Attard, leading trainer in races won; and Sam-Son Farm, leading owner in money won.

In her first full season of riding, Wilson won 175 races and almost $7.5 million in purse money, tops among all riders here in both categories at the Woodbine meeting.

Wilson, 24, has won both the Sovereign Award and Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice.

Attard, 55, won a meet-leading 68 races but finished second to trainer Reade Baker in both money won and in the Sovereign Award voting.

Sam-Son Farm took home purses of $1.9 million at the Woodbine meeting but was not among the Sovereign Award finalists in the owner category. The stable's four stakes winners at Woodbine were Silver Ticket, Soaring Free, Dance With Ravens, and Hatpin.

Presentation of the awards will be made on Sunday between races, on the turf course in front of the winner's circle.

Like a Gem had a 'bug'

Vella had a disappointing day here on Sunday as Runaway Hit ran last of four in the Victoria Park and Like a Gem ended up a distant trailer in the Woodbine Oaks.

Like a Gem, owned and bred by Garland Williamson, was making her first start in five weeks in the Woodbine Oaks after a virus scuttled her scheduled start in the May 24 Selene.

"We scoped her after [Sunday's] race, and found a little bit of mucus," said Vella. "But she seemed fine; she was just very tired.

"I'm just going to say she hasn't fully recovered from the bug. That's what my vet and I both believe."

Casse high on Seaside Links

Mark Casse, who sent out Kimchi to win the Oaks, unveiled the promising 2-year-old Seaside Links earlier on the Sunday program.

Seaside Links, a Canadian-bred 2-year-old colt owned by Woodford Racing, rallied to win a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special by a neck under Patrick Husbands.

"I'm excited about him," said Casse. "He's been doing well since the beginning. He's eligible to everything, and with his breeding he should run all day and handle turf, dirt, everything."

A $100,000 buy at the Keeneland September yearling sale, Seaside Links is by Street Cry out of Miami Vacation.

Seaside Links also was nominated to this Saturday's feature, the five-furlong Victoria Stakes, but will not be running. The $125,000 Victoria, an open race, is the first 2-year-old stakes of the meeting.

Arravale likely to head out of town

Arravale returned to the races triumphantly, winning Sunday's $100,000 Alywow in grand style.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Bob Costigan and trained by Mac Benson, Arravale was making her first start in more than eighth months in the Alywow, a 6 1/2-furlong turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

"She's had enough training," said Benson, who has watched Arravale work often and well here this spring.

"Now we've got to take a few days and figure out what to do with her next," he said. "The only thing here would be if we run her against older fillies in the Dance Smartly.

"I'm looking to keep her with 3-year-olds, so we'll probably be looking out of town."

The Grade 2, $150,000 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, goes July 15. The next open turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies is the one-mile, $125,000 Ontario Colleen on Sept. 2.

Harborage passed on Belmont

Harborage, owned by Earle Mack, got his first career stakes win in Sunday's $125,000 Victoria Park.

Based in New York with trainer Gary Contessa, Harborage was coming off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 20 and was a convincing winner at the same 1 1/8-mile distance in the Victoria Park.

Harborage had been under consideration for Saturday's Belmont Stakes before his disappointing Peter Pan effort. His long-term goal is the $1 million Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 26.

In the meantime, Harborage might continue to follow the path of lesser resistance and run in the $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows on June 30 as a possible stepping-stone to the Travers.

Barbeau Ruckus ran bravely

Barbeau Ruckus boosted his earnings past the $1 million mark and gave veteran trainer George Newland his first stakes victory at Woodbine in Saturday's $125,000 Steady Growth.

But the most noteworthy element of Barbeau Ruckus's victory was the manner in which he won.

For the second straight year, Barbeau Ruckus gave way to a clear new leader in midstretch, then battled back to win under Todd Kabel.

Barbeau Ruckus, a 7-year-old gelding who until this year was trained by Ross Armata, also won the 2003 Steady Growth and finished fourth in the 2004 renewal.