09/01/2009 11:00PM

Spirit Lodge hardly in too deep


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Spirit Lodge didn't beat much when he graduated last month, but looked very good doing it, and he will try to make the transition to Ontario-sired allowance company Friday at Woodbine in a race scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Spirit Lodge wasn't a factor after getting away slowly when he debuted in a seven-furlong maiden dash June 24. He subsequently changed trainers, going from Jim Day to Liz Charalambous.

Spirit Lodge stretched out to 1 1/16 miles to contest another maiden special for Ontario-sired runners on turf Aug. 6. Sent off as the second choice, he closed stoutly on the outside from mid-pack to prevail by 5 1/2 lengths over longtime maidens I'm a Little Fish and Thirdkin. His time of 1:42 translated into a 76 Beyer Speed Figure.

Friday's feature is for nonwinners of three races, and Spirit Lodge is eligible for a nonwinners of two, but he doesn't seem out of his league and should be tough if he continues to improve. Charalambous is 3 for 8 with horses exiting a maiden victory over the past five years, according to DRF Formulator.

Knight's Cause will likely be favored in his second start following an extended layoff. Knight's Cause captured two consecutive Ontario-sired events on the grass last summer, including a nonwinners-of-two allowance. He capped his 2008 campaign with a third-place finish in the restricted Bunty Lawless Stakes in October.

In his season opener in a seven-furlong allowance, Knight's Cause closed belatedly to end up second behind the runaway winner, Rockglen. He was awarded a 78 Beyer that day. Eric Coatrieux trains Knight's Cause, who breezed five-eighths on the Polytrack in a bullet 1:00.40 last Friday.

Ascot's Legend finished a distant third behind Rockglen and Knight's Cause the only time he tried the turf Aug. 3. A son of Ascot Knight, Ascot's Legend was favored in an allowance sprint on the Polytrack Aug. 16, but he never reached serious contention and wound up a distant trailer.

Ascot's Legend had a productive 2008 campaign, during which he won 2 of 5 starts and over $80,000. Trainer Mike DePaulo will give leading rider Patrick Husbands a leg up on him.

Silent Knight is coming off a surprisingly poor performance in a $40,000 conditioned claimer, but he was previously second in an Ontario-sired allowance on the turf.