07/19/2010 6:52PM

Smokey Fire takes advantage in Bold Venture


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The playbill for last Saturday’s $168,000 Bold Venture featured Hollywood Hit, who had established himself as Woodbine’s top sprinter, and Fatal Bullet, who was seeking to reassert his championship credentials of 2008. But the script apparently didn’t get approval from Smokey Fire, who upstaged the leading lights in his first start since November.

Under regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson, Smokey Fire was last early in the field of four as Hollywood Hit set a demanding pace while pressured by Fatal Bullet.

Smokey Fire started turning up the heat around the turn, however, and took charge from Hollywood Hit in the final furlong to score by 1 3/4 lengths.

Fatal Bullet, off poorly from his inside post, switched to the outside but was unable to keep pace with Hollywood Hit and was beaten 7 1/2 lengths as the third-place finisher.

“It turned out the way we thought it might,” said Sid Attard, who trains the homebred 5-year-old gelding Smokey Fire for the Jim Dandy Stable of Mel Lawson.

“Emma gave him a good ride; she was very patient.”

Main-track sprint opportunities now are few and far between for the older set, and Attard and Jim Dandy Stable manager Jim Lawson will be mulling over their options for Smokey Fire.

Terry Jordan, who trains Hollywood Hit for owner Peter Redekop, and Reade Baker, who conditions Fatal Bullet for the Bear Stable of Danny Dion, are facing the same dilemma.

Jordan said the Grade 3 Phoenix, a six-furlong race at Keeneland on Oct. 8, is Hollywood Hit’s next major target, but he is hoping that something here might emerge in the interim.

Baker will aim Fatal Bullet to the Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race here Aug. 29.

Attfield runs 1-2 in Dance Smartly

Trainer Roger Attfield has been overseas for the past week, mixing business with pleasure.

But his stable crew kept his name in lights here Sunday when his assistant, Nancy Sullivan, sent out the 1-2 finishers in the Grade 2, $300,400 Dance Smartly for fillies and mares.

Mekong Melody, racing for the first time in almost 10 months, won the Dance Smartly by a nose over Ave, who joined the Attfield stable this season and was making her local debut in the 1 1/8-mile turf feature.

An Irish-bred 5-year-old owned by David Egan, Mekong Melody had last been seen capturing the Flaming Page over 1 1/2 miles on turf here Sept. 27.

Attfield had hoped to run Mekong Melody in the allowance prep for the Dance Smartly, but when that race failed to fill, heading straight to the Dance Smartly was his remaining option.

Ave, who finished third in graded stakes at Pimlico and Belmont in her two starts for Attfield, was flying late and just missed under import rider John Velazquez.

Patrick Husbands was aboard Mekong Melody for the first time and recorded his 10th stakes victory of the meeting to put him in a tie atop that category with Chantal Sutherland.

Gonzalez sells Colin winner to Dion

Trainer Nick Gonzalez and his wife, Martha, have trained horses for owner/breeder Hal Snowden and dropped in at his Lexington, Ky., farm on their way to Florida last December. That visit resulted in the private purchase of two yearlings.

“We sent them right down to the farm in Ocala,” Gonzalez said. “We turned them out for a month – they were in the same paddock as Big Red Mike – and started galloping at the beginning of the year.

“Then I brought them up to Fort Erie, breezed them there, and then sent them up to Martha to finish them off, like we do with most of our 2-year-olds.”

Big Red Mike went on to become the Queen’s Plate winner. His paddock companions were False Hope and Glory Game, and their careers quickly took contrasting paths.

“I lost a little on the one, and I’ve made a little on the other,” Gonzalez said.

False Hope, an Ontario-bred, finished eighth of nine in his debut here May 23 and then was sent to Presque Isle Downs, where he was sold and has been unplaced in two subsequent starts.

Glory Game, a New York-bred, won his debut for a $62,500 claiming price here July 2 and then was a convincing winner of last Saturday’s $150,000 Colin, leaving prohibitive favorite Madman Diaries two lengths back in second place.

The $90,000 winner’s share boosted Glory Game’s earnings to $111,300 and that already not insignificant “little” to which Gonzalez had referred became serious “lot” after the gelding was sold privately Sunday.

Dion anted up $250,000 for Glory Game and plans to send him to trainer Linda Rice at Saratoga. Dion already has one horse, the stakes-placed 4-year-old Bear’s Rocket, with Rice in New York.

Roxy Gap makes it two in a row

Roxy Gap became the first favorite to prevail in last weekend’s stakes when she captured Sunday’s $152,800 Shady Well for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds fillies as the 3-5 choice.

A 6 1/2-length winner of her five-furlong debut here July 3, Roxy Gap had to overcome the outside post in the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well’s 12-horse field but prevailed by 2 1/2 lengths under returning rider Corey Fraser.

“I thought she was impressive,” said Mark Casse, who trains the homebred Roxy Gap for Melnyk Racing Stable.

“I was concerned with her coming back in two weeks. I wouldn’t want to make that a habit, but she handled it this time.”

Casse also was relieved to see Roxy Gap stay in the groove after her eye-opening initial performance.

“A lot of times, a horse will run a very big race first time and then you never see it again,” Casse said.

The $150,000 Ontario Debutante, an open 6 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies here Aug. 14, could mark Roxy Gap’s next appearance, but Casse will be conferring with Eugene Melnyk and could consider other options.

◗ Apprentice jockey Omar Moreno will serve a one-day suspension Wednesday and has been fined $300 after the stewards ruled that he struck his mount, Galloping Briar, more than three times in succession during the stretch run of Friday’s third race. Galloping Briar won the race by a neck. The whipping offense was Moreno’s second within one calendar year.