Updated on 09/17/2011 10:14AM

Tiller holds strong hand in Cartier


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Bob Tiller entered three of the six horses in Sunday's Jacques Cartier Stakes at Woodbine - Rare Friends, Forever Grand, and Cheap Talk - but he might not run all of them.

Rare Friends, fifth at 2-1 in the five-furlong Briartic Handicap on opening day, and Forever Grand are his most likely candidates for the six-furlong race, Tiller said Thursday.

"Rare Friends came out of his race in great shape," Tiller said. "He's trained well all week. I don't know whether it was the five-eighths or what, but he simply didn't fire. Forever Grand is also doing very well, but I don't know if sprinting is his game. They'll both run, but with Cheap Talk, we'll just have to wait and see."

Forever Grand and Cheap Talk have yet to see action this year. Forever Grand, a restricted stakes winner, won half of his 10 starts last year, when he finished third in Queen's Plate. Cheap Talk emerged as one of the country's top sprinters in the fall, when he capped a three-race win streak with a half-length score over Krz Ruckus in the Kennedy Road Stakes.

Tiller owns part of all three horses, who are not coupled. A new Ontario Racing Commission directive states that runners in stakes of $100,000 or more no longer have to be coupled because of common ownership.

Also entered in the $134,875 Jacques Cartier were Wild Whiskey, Pop Rocks, and Lead by Example.

Wild Whiskey, a speedy 4-year-old trained by John Ross, took the six-furlong Woodstock Stakes in a romp last April but was shelved after finishing 18 lengths back in the May 4 Queenston Stakes. Expect him to link up with Rare Friends on the front end.

Trainer Mike Wright Jr. contemplated entering Boston Common, who won the Grade 2 Jerome at Belmont in 2002, but decided to run Pop Rocks, who like Boston Common is owned by Richard Englander.

Pop Rocks won a second-level allowance at Aqueduct in December and hit the board twice in third-level allowance races in January. He had a bad trip last time when he trailed the field in the Briartic.

Lead by Example, a wet-track specialist trained by Josie Carroll, won the 2001 Old Hickory Stakes at the Fair Grounds. He was a come-from-behind winner over a muddy track in a five-furlong allowance here March 23.

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