10/11/2010 12:17PM

Smokey Fire, Field Commission meet in Mt. Sassafras

Michael Burns
Smokey Fire will cut back to seven furlongs for Wednesday's Mt. Sassafras Stakes at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Smokey Fire and Field Commission, two of the top sprinters at Woodbine, may clash over seven furlongs Wednesday night in the $100,000 Mt. Sassafras Stakes. There is a chance Field Commission could scratch in favor of Saturday’s $500,000 Nearctic Stakes.

Smokey Fire upset the speedy Hollywood Hit when notching his season opener July 17 in the Bold Venture Stakes. He struggled on the dirt at Saratoga in his next appearance, in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, but then rebounded on the grass here in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes, which he won by neck over Jungle Wave and Fatal Bullet.

Smokey Fire faded to sixth most recently after a stalking trip in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. Jono Jones will ride him again for trainer Sid Attard.

Field Commission, last year’s champion sprinter in Canada, is winless in six starts this year. He was in good form prior to ending up seventh in his last race in the seven-furlong Play the King, a substandard effort that led to minor throat surgery, according to trainer Danny Vella.

“When he came back, he indicated that he’d flipped his palate,” Vella said. “We did that small procedure, so he wouldn’t do it again.”

Emile Ramsammy retains the mount on Field Commission, who is reacquiring blinkers.

Two Nick Gonzalez-trained runners, Daniel Be Good and R Shining Hope, also are in the six-horse field of Ontario-breds.

Daniel Be Good cleared his first two allowance conditions, over seven furlongs on Polytrack and the turf, before ending up third last time in the restricted Overskate Stakes.

“He fought a hard race in the Overskate,” Gonzalez said. “I think he’s maturing. He doesn’t need the lead any more. I think seven-eighths is his best distance.”

R Shining Hope, the lone 3-year-old in the lineup, was a tired fifth Sept. 23 in a seven-furlong optional claimer on the lawn.

“He’s doing very good,” Gonzalez said. “He’s a solid horse. Seven-eighths is a good distance for him.”

Ice Bear, a multiple stakes winner for trainer Mac Benson, has failed to find the mark in six races at the meet.

Ice Bear finished third in two turf stakes this year, the Grade 2 King Edward and the With Approval. He also was third in a recent optional claimer on Polytrack, in which he competed with an $80,000 tag.

Lady’s First Cat was a non-threatening seventh in the Sept. 29 Overskate.