08/15/2006 11:00PM

Sir Blitz faces another old warrior

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Marco Be Good, winning the Highlander, is headed for the Play the King.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sir Blitz finally got a chance to run on his preferred surface for the first time this year after his first three scheduled turf starts were washed over to the dirt here at Woodbine.

The bad news was that grass opportunity came in a tough spot, the 6 1/2-furlong prep for the Play the King on Aug. 5, and Sir Blitz was beaten 4 3/4 lengths while ending sixth in a field of 11.

On Friday, Sir Blitz encounters more comfortable company in the day's seven-furlong turf feature, a second-level allowance with an optional claiming clause of $60,000. The $66,800 race goes as the last of 10 on the program and attracted a field of 14.

Trainer Danny Vella believes Sir Blitz appreciated getting back to the turf last time.

"It's hard to tell whether he was not quite as good as those or whether he's lost a step," said Vella, who co-owns the 8-year-old gelding along with Selena Barber and Greg Broadhurst. "This race should tell us a lot more. He seems to be in great order."

Sir Blitz, who finished second over 7 1/2 furlongs of sloppy going on the inner track in his third start of the meeting, is in for the $60,000 price here and will have regular rider Constant Montpellier in the irons as he begins from post 2.

Despite his advanced age, Sir Blitz is not the senior member of Friday's headliner. That honor goes to Frank's Selection, a 10-year-old gelding who is based with trainer Robert Griem at Fort Erie.

Frank's Selection also raced in the Play the King prep, finishing fifth in just his second start of the season, following a main-track tune-up at Fort Erie.

Although he was won 12 of 77 career starts, Frank's Selection's last official victory came on July 3, 2003, in an optional claiming race at Fort Erie. While he finished first in the $69,000 Peninsula there later that month, Frank's Selection was disqualified and placed eighth.

But Frank's Selection's main claim to fame has come via his appearances in the last three runnings of the Play the King as he finished third at 37-1 in 2003, second at 40-1 in 2004, and third at 30-1 last year.

Marco Be Good works five furlongs

Marco Be Good, a candidate for this year's Play the King, worked over the training track turf course here Tuesday, going five furlongs in 1:02.40 under regular rider Justin Stein.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King will be run at seven furlongs on turf here Aug. 26.

Marco Be Good, a 4-year-old gelding owned and bred by the Terra Farm of Dom Romeo and trained by John Ross, became a stakes winner in the Grade 3 Highlander, a six-furlong turf race here June 25, but finished a distant fifth at 7 1/2 furlongs on the inner dirt course in the Aug. 6 Shepperton.

"The sharp turns of the inside track, he didn't handle that at all," said Ross. "He's going back to turf."

Marco Be Good worked in company with Knox Town, an unraced 2-year-old colt who was clocked in 1:00.60 under jockey Steven Bahen.

"I really like him," said Ross of Knox Town. "I'll be looking for a race on turf for him."

Knox Town, also a Terra Farm homebred, is a half-brother to Young Dom, a 3-year-old gelding who recently finished a solid fourth in the Breeders' Stakes for trainer Debbie England.

Ambitious Cat on path to E.P. Taylor

Ambitious Cat shipped in from her Chiefswood Farm base to work six furlongs in 1:12.80 over the training track turf course on Tuesday.

With jockey Ray Sabourin in the irons, Ambitious Cat went in company with stablemate Seanachai, an allowance winner who also was clocked in 1:12.80.

Ambitious Cat, a 5-year-old mare trained by Eric Coatrieux, became a stakes winner in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares here July 15.

Although Ambitious Cat is nominated to the Aug. 27 Nijinsky, a Grade 2, $300,000 turf race in which she would face males at 1 1/2 miles, Coatrieux is not leaning in that direction.

"I don't think I'll be running in the Nijinsky, unless the ground's softer," said Coatrieux. "The E.P. Taylor Stakes is her main goal. She's good right now. I'm just hoping she's going to stay good until the fall."

Ambitious Cat could use the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares on Sept. 17, as a stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for the same set here Oct. 22. She finished second in the Canadian and third in the Taylor last year.

Pipers Thunder done for year

Pipers Thunder, winner of the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial before running sixth in the Queen's Plate and being moved up to second via disqualification in Fort Erie's Prince of Wales, is through for the season, Coatrieux said.

"He took a chip out of his ankle last Friday," said Coatrieux. "He'll go down to Florida this winter, and could run a race or two there."

Pipers Thunder, owned by Chiefswood Stable, began his career at Gulfstream this March and has banked $230,320 with a pair of wins and a second from five starts.