05/15/2007 11:00PM

Surface no concern for 'Flight'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Darwin Banach and owner-breeder Bill Sorokolit have been on a roll this spring, with Sky Conqueror becoming a Grade 1 winner at Churchill Downs and Native Legend becoming a stakes winner here at Woodbine.

On Friday, the stable will be looking to add another win to its ledger with Executive Flight in the $87,900 allowance prep for the Grade 2, $300,000 Nassau Stakes on June 2.

Friday's one-mile feature for fillies and mares is scheduled to be the first turf race of the season. Last Sunday's prep for the Connaught Cup was moved to the main track when the course was deemed unready for use.

The turf course has since been given the green light. But with rain being prevalent this week, the prospect of the race being moved to a mile and 70 yards on Polytrack is very real.

The surface should make no difference to Executive Flight, a 4-year-old who has placed in two stakes from three starts on turf and is 3 for 5 on Polytrack, including a victory over 6 1/2 furlongs under third-level allowance terms in her seasonal bow.

"She's done it short, long, on all kinds of surfaces," Banach said. "If they switched this race, it wouldn't hurt our feelings."

Executive Flight was nominated to last Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie but was reserved for this spot.

"My objective for her is the Barbados Ballade," Banach said, referencing the six-furlong stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares here June 23. "We want to make sure she'll be firing on all cylinders for that race."

Vestrey Lady, a 4-year-old filly trained by Reade Baker, also passed on the Hendrie and is the other leading contender in Friday's headliner.

A Kentucky-bred, Vestrey Lady was the runner-up in the 2006 Sovereign Award balloting for champion 3-year-old filly. She won the 7 1/2-furlong Duchess and 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette here last year, and finished second in the Grade 2 Raven Run over seven furlongs at Keeneland.

After opening up her current campaign with a third-place finish in an open five-furlong turf allowance at Gulfstream, Vestry Lady finished a well-beaten fourth as the odds-on choice here in the six-furlong Whimsical.

"Her only race on turf was a monster race," said Baker, who trains Vestrey Lady. "I don't think she likes the Polytrack here this year, but she's in good shape."

Lien on Me is facing her toughest opposition to date but could capitalize on a fitness edge, having raced three times and won twice over the Fair Grounds turf course this winter.

Native Legend skips Selene

Native Legend was nominated to Sunday's Grade 3, $250,000 Selene but will not be in the lineup for the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

"We have other options for her, in June," said Banach.

Native Legend won a five-furlong first-level allowance and the six-furlong Star Shoot here in her two starts this season.

The barn plans to send out an able substitute in the Selene, however, in Palace Pier, who finished second in Keeneland's Grade 2, seven-furlong Beaumont and in Woodbine's Fury in her two starts this year.

The Selene, an open race, is a major stepping-stone on the road to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred fillies here June 10, which is Palace Pier's major target.

Marine attracts field of eight

Saturday's feature, the Grade 3, $250,000 Marine, has attracted a field of eight 3-year-olds.

While the 1 1/16-mile Marine is considered a stepping-stone to the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate here June 24, the only Queen's Plate-eligible in Saturday's field is Include Us, a maiden trained by Roger Attfield.

The American-breds in the Marine include one supplementary nominee, Artie Hot, and one shipper, Sahara Heat. Artie Hot, claimed for $30,000 at Gulfstream this winter by Tucci Stable and trainer Nick Gonzalez, made a winning local debut in a first-level allowance over seven furlongs here May 5. He was supplemented to the Marine at a cost of $3,000, which includes the $1,500 entry fee.

Sahara Heat, trained by Eoin Harty, was to ship up from Keeneland along with stablemate Marietta, whose target is the Selene.

Sahara Heat, a Kentucky-bred, will be seeking his third straight score in the 1 1/16-mile Marine, having won his maiden over 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream and a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland.

Fernando Jara, regular rider of reigning North American Horse of the Year Invasor and Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, is slated to ride both Sahara Heat and Marietta.

Like Mom Like Sons at Pimlico

Like Mom Like Sons left Woodbine last Saturday morning and is slated to make his first out-of-town appearance in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Pimlico.

Garrett Gomez will ride Like Mom Like Sons, who is undefeated in four starts here. He is trained by Sid Attard.