10/23/2008 12:00AM

Spice Route's last singles him out


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Spice Route, the surprising runner-up in the Grade 1 Canadian International, will take center stage Saturday at Woodbine in the Grade 2, $250,000 Sky Classic, a 1 3/8-mile turf stakes with a field of only five.

Spice Route was a modest runner in England before coming to North America, and has undergone a remarkable transformation since joining trainer Roger Attfield's barn.

Spice Route defeated second-level allowance types going 1 1/2 miles in his local debut in August. He subsequently ran fifth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes, finishing a length back after hitting the front early in the stretch.

Spice Route was dismissed at 38-1 in the Oct. 4 International, but ran the race of his life to finish 1 3/4 lengths behind Marsh Side. Second money of $400,000 in the $2 million race boosted his earnings to $553,027.

"He ran very hard in the International," said Attfield. "His last two races at a mile and a half were both big for him."

Attfield said he did not entertain thoughts of running Spice Route in Saturday's $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

"He's not eligible for the Breeders' Cup, anyway," said Attfield. "With this race here the same day, he didn't have to travel."

Seaside Retreat finished a close third after a wide stalking journey in the Northern Dancer, which came on the heels of his victory in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes.

Trainer Mark Casse said things failed to go Seaside Retreat's way when the gelding finished fourth under Patrick Husbands in the International.

"It was a strange race," said Casse. "He got out a little after he broke, and [Lauro] cut over on him 200 yards out of the gate. The plan was to be close to the rail, because I thought there was a big bias on the rail. Patrick said he fought him the entire way. He wanted to get out, and he couldn't get him to the best part of the track. You have to be happy when everything goes wrong and you only get beat three lengths."

Casse said Seaside Retreat came out of the International with a bruised heel.

"He was off on his left front the next day," Casse said. "We've been working on it, and it looks pretty good."

The German runner Lauro is making his second start off a long layoff following a seventh-place finish in the International.

Hello Maggie May upsets Tribal Belle

Hello Maggie May ($17.30) caught the 4-5 favorite Tribal Belle in deep stretch to win the $106,800 Ruling Angel Stakes on Wednesday night at Woodbine.

Tribal Belle set fractions of 22.70 and 45.52 seconds in the 6 1/2-furlong dash, while Hello Maggie May trailed in the seven-horse field of 3-year-old fillies.

Hello Maggie May commenced a rally between horses at the three-eighths pole, and closed strongly in the stretch to win by a neck in a time of 1:15.53. Bear Lahaina finished another 2 1/4 lengths back in third.

Tyler Pizarro rode Hello Maggie May, who is trained by Attfield. Tyler Pizarro earned $66,000 in her first stakes triumph for Windhaven.

"Roger said to let her be and make a run at them," said Pizarro. "I just had to point her in the right direction."