05/24/2009 11:00PM

Sterwins extends combo's hot streak


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Malcolm Pierce and jockey Patrick Husbands have been an extremely potent combo at the Woodbine meeting.

On Sunday, Pierce and Husbands ran their 2009 Woodbine record here to 4 for 4 in stakes and 9 for 12 overall when Sterwins got up in the last jump to capture the $173,300 Connaught Cup in a track-record clocking of 1:38.99 for the 1 1/16 miles of turf.

The Connaught Cup was the first start of the meeting for Sterwins after he finished a lackluster fifth when looking for a second straight win in the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland.

And, his immediate victim in the Connaught Cup was Rahy's Attorney, who had won the Grade 3 race last year during a campaign which also included success in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and a title as Canada's top older turf male.

"I was as pleased with this race as I was disappointed with his race in the Ben Ali," said Pierce, who trains the homebred 6-year-old gelding Sterwins for Melnyk Racing Stable.

"He ran huge, obviously, with the track record. And, I think he will run on.

"I don't know about a mile and a half, but I'm sure he'll get a mile and an eighth. I think for his next start, the King Edward makes the most sense."

The Grade 2 King Edward, a $300,000 turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, will be run here on June 27.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for the same division, is scheduled for June 21, Queen's Plate Day.

Good comeback by Rahy's Attorney

There is honor in defeat and Rahy's Attorney, making his first appearance since running in the Mile Championship at Japan's Kyoto Race Course last November, certainly merited that distinction.

Rahy's Attorney had wintered at nearby Kinghaven Farm, had been unable to find a prep for the Connaught Cup, and was the 126-pound highweight in the race.

"I think off that long a layoff, with that much weight, and having to stay up here, he ran huge," said trainer Ian Black.

Rahy's Attorney had followed up his Connaught Cup score last year with a second-place finish in the Singspiel.

"I think we'll go to the King Edward this year," said Black, whose unsurprising long-term goal with Rahy's Attorney is this year's running of the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 20.

Pierce pair prep for stakes

Meanwhile, Pierce and Husbands will be looking to make more hay here next weekend with Points of Grace in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau and El Brujo in Sunday's $150,000 Plate Trial.

Points of Grace worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on the training track turf course here last Friday in preparation for the Nassau, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares in which Pierce also plans to send out Remarkable Remy.

El Brujo, the leading contender for the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 here last Saturday under Husbands.

"I thought he might have went a little faster," said Pierce. "But, Patrick was working him for the first time and he said he went fine."

El Brujo, winner of the six-furlong Achievement and the seven-furlong Queenston here in his only starts this season, finished second in the 1o1/8-mile Coronation Futurity in his first try around two turns here last fall.

Oaks a possibility for Sans Sousi

Heading into last Saturday's $126,600 Lady Angela, Sans Sousi had appeared in seven stakes races and recorded four seconds, two thirds, and one fourth-place finish.

But the stars finally aligned for Sans Sousi in the Lady Angela as she rallied on the inside under rider Chantal Sutherland to emerge a half-length the best in the seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

"She gave her a great ride," said Mike Doyle, who trains Sans Sousi and is her owner in partnership with Thor Eaton.

"We talked about dropping her back, off the pace. She made her relax, and got a clear run."

Sans Sousi was making her third start of the season in the Lady Angela, having finished second in the opening-day La Voyageuse at five furlongs and third in the six-furlong Star Shoot two weeks later.

While Sans Sousi was nominated to the seven-furlong Fury for Ontario-foaled fillies here May 3, Doyle elected to await the Lady Angela.

"I never thought about the Fury," said Doyle. "I ran her a bit close, those first two races. I knew I had to give her time, and wait for a non-winners of two life or the Lady Angela."

The June 7 Woodbine Oaks, a $500,000 race at 1 1/8 miles for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, now has to be a temptation.

"We'll have to take a close look and see," said Doyle.

Sans Sousi's only previous try around two turns came here last fall in the restricted South Ocean, in which she finished third while making her last of eight starts as a 2-year-old on Nov. 12.

"I thought it was a pretty good race," said Doyle. "She's been going all year, sporadically, and it was a last kick at the can."

Koonunga Hill set to stretch out

Koonunga Hill probably earned herself a shot at the Woodbine Oaks with her second-place finish in the Lady Angela, which was just her second start of the season.

Trained by Steve Owens, Koonunga Hill enjoyed a solid campaign at 2, racing well at distances from 4 1/2 furlongs on the main track to one mile on the turf while becoming a stakes winner in the seven-furlong Ice Water on turf.

In her opener this year, which came in the Star Shoot, Koonunga Hill was a little too eager early and then weakened to finish fifth.

In the Lady Angela, with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard for the second time, Koonunga Hill wound up stalking the pace from third and looked like a winner until Sans Sousi burst onto the scene.

"We changed a bit of equipment on her, hoping to get her to settle," said Owens. "She was a little flat-footed leaving the gate, but I thought she ran a great race. And, she galloped out very well."

While the Woodbine Oaks would be Koonunga Hill's first venture around two turns, Owens said he believes her running style and pedigree are factors in her favor.

* The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club will be meeting here Wednesday, beginning from 7 p.m. in the third-floor Champions area.