10/07/2009 12:00AM

Spice Route looks fit for stakes

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Spice Route, runner-up in last year's Canadian International, could be on his way back to that Grade 1, $2 million turf feature here Oct. 17 after breezing seven furlongs in 1:28 on Wednesday morning.

Spice Route, a 5-year-old gelding, had finished fifth over soft turf in the 1 1/4-mile Nijinsky here July 26 and emerged from the race with pulled muscles in his back. After spending three weeks on the farm, Spice Route returned to the racetrack and had his first breeze back on Sept. 9.

Trainer Roger Attfield said he was impressed with Spice Route's strong gallop-out on Wednesday.

"The way he went, he didn't look like a short horse at all," said Attfield, who trains Spice Route and is a part-owner along with Dick Bonnycastle and Ralph Johnson. Jim McAleney, who was aboard Spice Route, confirmed Attfield's analysis.

"Fitness-wise, he seems to be there," McAleney said.

Initially, Attfield had not been optimistic about Spice Route being ready in time for the 1 1/2-mile Canadian International but has changed his tune as the weeks progressed.

"He's doing unbelievably well," Attfield said.

Musketier, a 7-year-old horse also trained by Attfield, ran in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont last Saturday, with the door open for a return to action in the Canadian International.

But then Musketier finished a well-beaten sixth in the very soft going and emerged from the race with muscle problems similar to those suffered by Spice Route.

"He's still pretty body-sore," Attfield said. "He's not as bad as I thought he was going to be, but he certainly won't run back in the International, and that's what we were hoping to do."

Lady Shakespeare works for E.P. Taylor

Lady Shakespeare, who worked six furlongs in 1:15.40 under regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson here Wednesday, is on target for an appearance in the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes on the Oct. 17 card.

A Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly who races for her owner and breeder Charles Fipke and is trained by Attfield, Lady Shakespeare would be seeking her fifth consecutive win in the E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Mekong Melody, an Irish-bred 4-year-old trained by Attfield, also is under consideration for the E.P. Taylor. Mekong Melody won the Flaming Page here over 1 1/2 miles of yielding going in her most recent start.

Field Commission to cut back in Nearctic

Field Commission worked four furlongs in 47.20 seconds here Wednesday in preparation for the Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic.

The Nearctic, a six-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and up, also will be run here Oct. 17.

Field Commission, an Ontario-bred 4-year-old who is owned by Ed Seltzer and minority partner Danny Vella, is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Woodbine Mile, in which he was beaten 4 1/2 lengths.

"He's a good horse; he acquitted himself very well in there," Vella said. "He was only beaten a half-length for third. But I think he's really a six- or seven-furlong turf horse.

In previous turf outings, Field Commission had run second at six furlongs in the Grade 3 Highlander and at seven furlongs in the Grade 3 Play the King.

Extra distance suits Witch's Coven

Witch's Coven, who won her maiden over a mile and 70 yards in her fifth career start, will be looking to parlay her edge in experience into an upset score here in Saturday's Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Mazarine.

The $250,000 Mazarine attracted a field of eight 2-year-old fillies headed by Bay to Bay, winner of the Grade 3 Natalma over one mile of turf in her latest.

"It took her time to put things together," said David Bell, who trains the Kentucky-bred Witch's Coven for Firestone Farm. "We always liked her a lot and wanted to get her going further."

After showing late run while picking up minor awards in her first three sprint outings, Witch's Coven stretched out to a mile and 70 yards and rallied to finish second, beaten a length.

"We changed things a little bit, and she got it done last time," Bell said. "I think she deserves a shot here."

Wilson retains the mount on Witch's Coven.

Woodbine runners eye Keeneland stakes

A number of Woodbine shippers are scheduled to see stakes action in the early days of the Keeneland meeting.

First up will be Fatal Bullet, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year and champion sprinter, who will go postward in the Grade 3, $250,000 Phoenix at six furlongs on Friday's opening card.

Regular rider Eurico Rosa Da Silva has the call on Fatal Bullet, who is trained by Reade Baker and owned by the Bear Stable of Danny Dion.

Sterwins, trained by Malcolm Pierce, is heading for Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile for 3-year-olds and up.

Pierce also is aiming Mullins Beach and El Brujo for stakes there the following week.

Mullins Beach, who scratched from last Saturday's Avowal, has been penciled in for the $100,000 Franklin County, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race for fillies and mares on Oct. 16.

El Brujo is eyeing the Grade 3, $150,000 Perryville, an about seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds on Oct. 17.

Meanwhile, Ginger Brew is bound for the Grade 1. $500,000 Spinster, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares this Sunday.

Owned and bred by Stronach Stable and trained by Brian Lynch, Ginger Brew was Canada's champion 3-year old filly last year.

Funeral services set for Boylen

A funeral service for Jim Boylen, a longtime owner and breeder in Ontario, at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Roadhouse & Rose Funeral Home, 157 Main Street South, in Newmarket.

Boylen died at a hospital at age 72 on Monday morning due to complications from recent surgery.

Boylen was involved with Lanson Farm, which was founded by his father M.J. Boylen.

Lanson Farm's best racehorse was Anita's Son, an Irish-bred who was named Canada's handicap horse of the year in 1960 and 1961 and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2005.

Boylen also bred Belle Geste, a turf specialist who was Canada's champion older female in 1972 and a Hall of Fame inductee in 1990.

Visitation was to be available at the Roadhouse & Rose Funeral Home from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 10 a.m. to noon Friday.