07/14/2008 11:00PM

Stakes gets unexpected star power


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $100,000 Scotzanna, a new overnight stakes, might have been expected to be not much more than a rare fillip on an otherwise sleepy Friday afternoon.

But that all changed on Tuesday when Sugar Swirl, a multiple graded stakes winner, turned up in the entry box for the six-furlong Scotzanna for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares.

Sugar Swirl, a 5-year-old homebred who races for Stronach Stable, swept the three sprint stakes for fillies and mares at this year's Gulfstream meeting, with scores in the Grade 3 First Lady, Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie, and Grade 2 Shirley Jones.

Following a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 3, Sugar Swirl returned to Ontario with her trainer, Brian Lynch, with a long-term eye toward Saratoga's Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 24.

"She went to the farm after the Humana Distaff and spent 30 days there freshening up," said Lynch. "She's been in here since then."

The Scotzanna wound up being perfectly positioned to serve as Sugar Swirl's prep for the seven-furlong Ballerina.

While the news of Sugar Swirl's probable participation in the Scotzanna was an ill-kept secret, the race still attracted six, surpassing the five required for an overnight stakes to be carded.

That number includes London Snow, who is undefeated in two starts this year, including a last-out win in the six-furlong Ballade for Ontario-sired fillies and mares here June 14.

"I have no choice now - I didn't go in the other two," said trainer John Charalambous, who had had two other overnight stakes options for London Snow, the Sweet Briar Too over seven furlongs on July 1 and the Repercussion over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf on July 9.

"The timing for this race was best. It took her a couple of weeks after her last race, which was at the same distance, and she's been slowly coming around. She's in good shape."

Cawaja Beach makes it 2 for 2

Cawaja Beach, trained by Scott Fairlie, recorded her second win in as many starts in the $151,200 Shady Well here last Sunday.

The Shady Well was a 5 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies, and Cawaja Beach, who had won her maiden over Ontario-sired opposition, actually was taking a subtle step up in class.

"She's always impressed me, big-time," said Fairlie, who also is one of the breeders of Cawaja Beach. "She won her first race very easily."

Next up for Cawaja Beach will be the $125,000 Nandi, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies here Aug. 3 in which she would figure prominently.

Farther down the road, Fairlie hopes that Cawaja Beach will able to hold her own at longer distances.

"Her dam won four races at 1 1/16 miles, and the way she runs, I think she's going to run long," said Fairlie, who also trained Cawaja Beach's dam, Cosa Rara.

The Shady Well was the first stakes win for Fairlie since Bold Grenadier captured the Deputy Minister on July 20, 2005.

For Cawaja Beach's jockey Daniel David the wait between stakes wins here had been much longer. David's most recent stakes score here had come in 1996 with Franssica d'Amour in the $43,800 La Voyageuse.

The Niagra Queen gets with the program

The Niagara Queen recorded the biggest victory of her career here last Saturday in the Grade 2, $336,300 Dance Smartly over 1 1/8 miles of yielding turf.

The Niagara Queen won the Flaming Page, an overnight stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf, here last year when trained by Mike Doyle, and was sold for $280,000 at Keeneland last fall. Her new owners, Elite Racing Stable, enlisted Steve Asmussen as trainer.

The Niagara Queen, who had wound up her last campaign with a fourth-place finish in the E.P. Taylor at 1 1/4 miles on turf on Oct. 21, returned this spring with a third-place finish for her new interests in the Polytrack allowance prep for the Nassau Stakes.

But in the Nassau itself, over 1 1/16 miles on turf, The Niagara Queen wound up fifth in the field of 10.

"The second time back, she was a victim of circumstances," said assistant trainer Steve Flint, who runs Asmussen's division here. "The turf was hard, and she sat back off a slow pace. But we learned a lot about her."

The Niagara Queen was making her first start in six weeks in the Dance Smartly and was racing over a turf course rated good, with Jim McAleney in the irons for the third time.

"It's a lot like anybody - she's been learning how to fit into our program," said Flint. "She'd wanted to work too fast, and we were looking to control her speed.

"I think we're moving in the right direction and as the distances increase that should help her performance. She wants to run all day."

While a specific program has not been laid out, Flint said The Niagara Queen will remain at Woodbine.

Throat surgery for Not Bourbon

Not Bourbon, who suffered an entrapped epiglottis when he finished sixth of seven in Fort Erie's Prince of Wales last Sunday, underwent minor throat surgery in his stall to correct the problem here Wednesday morning.

"I'll probably give him a couple more days off," said trainer Roger Attfield, who had sent out Not Bourbon to win the Queen's Plate for owner/breeder Charles Fipke. "He'll be back training for the weekend."

Pletcher colt breezes, then leaves

Todd Pletcher was here briefly Monday to watch Mr Mistoffelees breeze five furlongs in 1:00 over the training track. The colt shipped out for Arlington Park on Tuesday morning.

Mr Mistoffelees, a 2-year-old who was nominated to Saturday's Colin, had accompanied the Prince of Wales winner Harlem Rocker on his trip from Belmont to Fort Erie on Saturday and then moved on to Woodbine on Monday morning.

Angel Cordero joined Pletcher on his visit and was aboard for the breeze.