07/14/2010 5:23PM

Spice Route salvages Queen's Plate Day for Attfield


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Queen’s Plate Day was not a particularly memorable one for trainer Roger Attfield.

Decked out in his finest here last Sunday, Attfield had watched Mobilizer finish ninth as the lukewarm favorite in the Queen’s Plate after Not Bourbon had run fifth as fourth choice at 9-2 in the Highlander.

All was not lost, however, as Spice Route intervened with an impressive 3 3/4-length score in the Grade 3, $163,600 Singspiel at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

“If it wasn’t for Spice Route, I would have got killed,” said Attfield.

Spice Route, a 6-year-old gelding who is owned by Attfield in partnership with Ralph Johnson and Dick Bonnycastle, was making his first start in more than six months.

“I thought he might have been a little bit short,” said Attfield. “I would have liked to have got another work or two into him,” But, he was overpowering. He annihilated them.”

The next race here for the older turf horse division is the Grade 2 Nijinsky on July 24.

But, with the Nijinsky having been shortened to 1 1/8 miles this year, Spice Route may be seeking another option.

The Grade 2 Sky Classic, at 1 3/8 miles here Aug. 22, is at a distance which would be more to Spice Route’s liking and offers a purse of $250,000.

“The long-range plan is to have a good fall with him,” said Attfield. “If this horse stays good, he’s capable of running with anybody.”

Not Bourbon, making his second career start on turf and his third since missing all of last season with a fractured shoulder, was beaten 7 1/2 lengths in the Highlander, a Grade 2, $204,400 race at six furlongs on turf.

Regular rider Jono Jones told Attfield that Not Bourbon seems to run better on Woodbine’s main track.

“I’m not going to run him on turf again,” said Attfield. “He’ll cruise along, just like he does on Polytrack, but Jono says he just doesn’t have that same kick.”

Not Bourbon won the Queen’s Plate and Plate Trial, his only two career races around two turns on Polytrack, during his 2008 championship campaign.

“I’d like to get him running longer again,” said Attfield.

Mobilizer was scheduled to undergo minor throat surgery this week to correct a problem which may have compromised his Queen’s Plate performance.

“He bled, and entrapped [his epiglottis] a little,” said Attfield. “He’ll miss two and a half or three weeks.”

Hollinger awaits further testing

Attfield said he thinks his Queen’s Plate would have been a different story if Hollinger, who was Canada’s champion 2-year-old, had been able to make the race.

“If he’d been 100 percent, I would have gone in with a lot of confidence,” said Attfield. “I think he would have been a standout.”

Hollinger, however, had performed disappointingly in both the seven-furlong Queenston and 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial and Attfield said he believes there must be an underlying problem.

“We want to do a full-body scan on him, to see if we’ve missed anything,” said Attfield. “Then, we’ll address the situation again.”

That test is being held up due to a worldwide shortage of isotopes which has plagued the medical and veterinary professions over the past couple of years.

In the meantime, Hollinger is on hold.

“He’s still training every day,” said Attfield. “But we’ve had to cut back, as opposed to doing a full program. He’ll gallop a mile and then we’ll have to pony him home, he’s feeling so good.”

Signature Red will rest til Aug. 29

Signature Red became a stakes winner in the Highlander under jockey Chantal Sutherland, registering his second straight win over six furlongs of turf after taking the prep at the same distance.

“I always loved this horse,” said Sid Attard, who trains Signature Red.

Signature Red had placed in a pair of Grade 3 stakes sprints on Polytrack and had raced only once on turf prior to this season, finishing ninth under second-level allowance terms at one mile.

“That race was too far,” said Attard. “I don’t think it matters what he runs on, up to seven-eighths.”

Signature Road shipped to Adena Springs on Wednesday for a 10-day freshening. His next major target will be the Aug. 29 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race which offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $200,000.

Essence Hit Man may have to travel

Essence Hit Man, taken off the road to the Queen’s Plate after finishing third in the 1 1/16-mile Marine here May 20, got back to what he does best here last Saturday.

That would be sprinting, and Essence Hit Man showed the way throughout the six-furlong Achievement to score by a geared-down 1 3/4 lengths under regular rider Sutherland.

The $150,400 Achievement was the third win in four starts this year for Essence Hit Man, with his first two coming in the six-furlong Woodstock and seven-furlong Queenston.

But Audre Cappuccitti, who trains Essence Hit Man and is the colt’s co-owner and breeder in partnership with her husband, Gord, is at a loss as what to do now with her talented 3-year-old.

“I’d love to stay here, but I can’t find anything for him,” said Cappuccitti.

So Elite headed to Saratoga

So Elite notched his first stakes win here in last Saturday’s $105,800 Charlie Barley, an open one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.

Trained by Mark Casse and with Jones in the irons, So Elite registered his second straight impressive win after romping in a first-level allowance race at 1 1/8 miles here July 3.

“He’ll do a little bit of everything, but Jono thinks he’s a little better on turf,” said Casse.

Casse said So Elite is slated to make his next start at Saratoga, either on the dirt in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy on July 31 or the turf in the 1 1/8-mile Hall of Fame on Aug. 13.

Hollywood Hit works rapidly

Hollywood Hit breezed five furlongs in a bullet 58.00 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:11 here Wednesday in preparation for the July 17 Bold Venture.

“He went pretty good,” said trainer Terry Jordan, a master of understatement. “We’ve just got to make sure he’s all intact, and away we go.”

Hollywood Hit will be looking for his third stakes win in as many starts this season in the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture, which offers a purse of $150,000