08/10/2010 12:58PM

Third jewel of Canadian Triple Crown lacks sparkle

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Michael Burns
D's Wando is one of two Queen's Plate runners likely to start in the Breeders' Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The field for the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be drawn Thursday.

But, unlike the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales, there will be no fanfare for the Breeders’ as the draw will just be part of the normal race office routine for a Sunday program.

There is, in fact, seldom any buzz about the Breeders’ unless the 1 1/2-mile turf race involves a bid for the Triple Crown, which was the case when Wando was successful in 2003.

This year’s Breeders’ contains even less connection than usual with its predecessors in the Triple Crown series.

Smart Sky and D’s Wando are the only contestants from the Queen’s Plate pointing to the Breeders’, and none are expected from the Prince of Wales.

Stormy Lord, who captured the Toronto Cup over 1 1/8 miles in his last start, is the only stakes winner in the prospective field and the leader in races won, with four on his ledger, all over the local turf course.

D’s Wando and the filly Silent Wisper, who would have to be supplemented at a cost of $12,500, each have won two races.

Abogado, Born to Act, Cognashene, Dynamic Royal, and Empire Rising have won one race apiece.

Most of the Breeders’ candidates had their final major tune-ups over the turf training course here last Sunday.

Born to Act and Empire Rising, both trained by Mark Frostad, worked in company with Smart Sky, who is trained by Mike Doyle.

Smart Sky, who also would have to be supplemented to the Breeders’, worked seven furlongs in 1:26.60, while Born to Act and Empire Rising both were clocked over five furlongs in 59.40 seconds.

Jockey Chantal Sutherland was aboard Smart Sky for Sunday’s workout, with Robert Landry doing the honors on Born to Act and Emma-Jayne Wilson partnering Empire Rising.

“He just needed a bit of company,” Doyle said. “He worked well the week before, but he’s a bit of a lazy horse.”

Smart Sky, off since finishing seventh in the Queen’s Plate, ended a troubled seventh in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Gulfstream this February in his only turf outing.

Empire Rising, coming off his maiden win over 1 1/16 miles, was a well-beaten eighth in last year’s 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer in his only turf outing.

Born to Act debuted with a maiden win over six furlongs of turf and finished third when making his third career start in the Toronto Cup.

“I think they’ll both run well,” Frostad said.

Stormy Lord and D’s Wando, both trained by Ian Black, worked five furlongs in separate moves.

Jockey Jim McAleney was aboard Stormy Lord, who breezed in 1:00.60. Sutherland rode D’s Wando, who worked in 59 seconds while in company. Sutherland has the call on Smart Sky for the Breeders’.

“The mile and a half is a question with everybody,” Black said.

Stormy Lord, who had won an allowance prep over seven furlongs in front-running fashion but was second in the one-mile Charlie Barley after setting the pace, took back off an eager rival in the Toronto Cup and then dueled through the stretch to prevail by a half-length.

D’s Wando ended fourth, beaten seven lengths, when making his turf debut in the same race.

Cognashene, like Born to Act and Empire Rising, is a Sam-Son Farm homebred but is trained by Malcolm Pierce.

On Sunday, Cognashene breezed five furlongs in a bullet 58.40 under jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva.

“He breezed behind a couple of horses and came and caught them at the wire,” said Pierce, who sent out Cognashene to win his maiden over 1 1/4 miles of turf here last time out.

“He’ll get the Breeders’ distance; that’s not a problem. If he’s good enough, I don’t know.”

Silent Wisper, trained by Mike Keogh, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 under exercise rider Paul Ravera.

“We’ll take a look at the race and decide Thursday whether to supplement her,” Keogh said. “If we get rain, that would really sway me.”

Silent Wisper is coming off a front-running, first-level allowance win over 1 1/4 miles of good going here July 24 under regular rider Omar Moreno.

In her previous start, also on turf rated good but at 1 1/8 miles, Silent Wisper finished second behind No Explaining in the same classification.

No Explaining, trained by Roger Attfield, came back to finish a troubled third in the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga.

Utterly Cool out for rest of sesaon

Utterly Cool, who had returned to peak form here recently after missing almost a year and a half after fracturing a front ankle, will be out for the balance of this season after undergoing surgery for a fractured hind ankle.

“He should be able to start back in January,” said Sid Attard, who trains Utterly Cool for owner/breeder Mel Lawson.

Utterly Cool, a 4-year-old gelding, won the 6 1/2-furlong allowance prep for the Play the King in comfortable fashion here Friday after capturing the seven furlong Ontario Jockey Club four weeks earlier, with both races coming over the turf course.

Attard, who saddled Utterly Cool for his win here Friday, set out immediately afterward for Saratoga and received the bad news in a telephone call from his son and assistant, Jamie Attard, while about a half-hour into his journey.

Visiting Saratoga for the first time since he was there with Great Gladiator for the 1980 Travers, Attard watched Smokey Fire finish last of seven in Sunday’s Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt over seven furlongs.

“It was a tough race,” Attard said. “He just didn’t handle the dirt, but he came back good.”

Smokey Fire, a homebred 5-year-old gelding who is a full brother to Utterly Cool, was making his second start of the season in the Vanderbilt after defeating top local sprinters Hollywood Hit and Fatal Bullet in the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture here July 17.

◗ A funeral service will be held Friday for Wayne Mercer, a longtime Woodbine employee who died last Sunday at age 63. Mercer had spent some 30 years working with the racing silks in the jockeys’ room, a position colloquially referred to as “colors man.” The funeral will take place at 3 p.m. Friday at the chapel of the Turner and Porter Yorke Chapel, 2357 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Visitation will be available there from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday.