07/15/2007 11:00PM

Toronto Cup again in familiar hands


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sam-Son Farm, trainer Mark Frostad, and jockey Todd Kabel continued their domination of the Toronto Cup with Windward Islands here at Woodbine on Saturday.

Windward Islands, a Kentucky-bred who became a stakes winner in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, was the fifth straight Toronto Cup winner and seventh in the last eight years for Kabel.

Sam-Son and Frostad have won the last six Toronto Cups in which they fielded an entrant.

Windward Islands had raced just once this year before the Toronto Cup, finishing a very close second in a first-level turf allowance over 1 1/16 miles.

"I thought he'd fit with this bunch, and have a good shot," said Frostad. "He got a lot out of that first start."

Windward Islands also raced with blinkers for the first time in the Toronto Cup.

"They may have helped," said Frostad. "He's still pretty green."

The Toronto Cup was the last open 3-year-old turf stakes of the meeting, so Frostad will be shopping for a spot for Windward Islands.

Two contenders for the weekend

Frostad and Sam-Son also plan to be represented in the two Grade 2 turf stakes here Sunday, with French Beret aiming for the $700,000 Northern Dancer and Scarlett Butterfly on target for the $300,000 Dance Smartly.

French Beret, who won the Toronto Cup last year, is coming into the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer off a third-place finish over the same distance and surface in the $100,000 Singspiel, an overnight stakes.

"His last race was very good, and he's certainly fit," said Frostad. "This is obviously a tough spot but he should get a good break in the weights. We're here, and why not?"

Kabel has the mount on French Beret, who worked five furlongs in 1:02 here Sunday.

Scarlett Butterfly will be seeking her first stakes score in the 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly after recording her second straight turf win of the meeting in the 1 1/16-mile prep here June 29.

"She's been going steady since last summer, and she just seems to be getting better," said Frostad. "I just hope she keeps improving the way she has been."

Quiet Jungle done for the year

Frostad also had some bad news to report, as Quiet Jungle has undergone surgery for a fractured pastern and is through for the season.

Quiet Jungle, a 3-year-old filly owned and bred by Sam-Son, had finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Bison City here July 1 but was moved up to second place upon the disqualification of Sealy Hill.

"We think the injury probably started in the Bison City and manifested itself in her first breeze back, when she came up lame," said Frostad.

Quiet Jungle had been pointing for the $250,000 Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies here July 28.

Downbeat '07 debut for champion

Frostad also had hoped to make the Wonder Where with Catch the Thrill, who was Canada's champion 2-year-old filly last year.

But Catch the Thrill was not even nominated to the Wonder Where after a last-place finish in her belated seasonal bow over 1 1/8 miles on turf here July 7.

"I don't know what to make of that race," said Frostad. "She came back fine.

"Maybe she just didn't like the turf. We'll have to try her on Polytrack again."

Sky Conqueror gearing up for repeat

Sky Conqueror and Jambalaya, the leading locally based candidates for the Northern Dancer, are ready to roll after having their final preps for the race.

Sky Conqueror, who won the inaugural running of the Northern Dancer last year, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 under Jono Jones here Monday morning.

"It looks like he's on his game," said Darwin Banach, who trains Sky Conqueror for owner-breeder Bill Sorokolit. "Hopefully, he's set to have a repeat."

Edgar Prado will ride Sky Conqueror for the first time in the Northern Dancer.

Jambalaya tuned up for the Northern Dancer last Saturday, breezing five furlongs in 1:02.60 on the training track under Gerry Olguin.

"He goes awfully fast on Polytrack," said Catherine Day Phillips, who trains Jambalaya for her own Kingfield Farm.

Javier Castellano retains the mount on Jambalaya.

Sky Conqueror and Jambalaya, both Grade 1 winners south of the border this season, made their local seasonal bows in the King Edward over 1 1/8 miles on turf here July 2.

But it was Eccentric, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Gary Tanaka and trained by Roger Attfield, who emerged victorious in a thrilling three-way King Edward finish.

Eccentric has never raced beyond 1 1/4 miles and is unlikely to get that opportunity in the Northern Dancer.

"I'd love to run him a mile and a half, actually," said Attfield. "If I didn't have Pellegrino, I'd run him in there."

Eccentric, who is equally proficient on turf and all-weather surfaces, is scheduled to return to Polytrack, with the July 21 Arlington Handicap or Del Mar's Aug. 19 Pacific Classic on Attfield's wish list.

The Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington and the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic both are run at 1 1/4 miles.

Pellegrino, also owned by Tanaka, is heading into the Northern Dancer off a head victory in the Singspiel.

On Sunday, Pellegrino breezed six furlongs on the turf training track in 1:14.60.

Longshot working well

Attfield also has a dark horse for the Northern Dancer in the form of The Carbon Unit

A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by James Long, The Carbon Unit had raced in the United Arab Emirates and in Ireland before an unimpressive four-race campaign in the United States this year.

The Carbon Unit has worked well since joining Attfield's string here recently, including a six-furlong move in 1:12.40 on the turf training course last Wednesday.

Attfield said Pat Shanahan, who rode The Carbon Unit to three straight victories in Ireland in the summer of 2005, was scheduled to be here for the Northern Dancer.