11/24/2009 1:00AM

Tribal Belle ahead of the pack

Michael Burns
Tribal Belle, Jim McAleney up, comes from off the pace to win last Sunday's Bessarabian. It was her third sprint stakes victory of the Woodbine meeting and made her a front-runner to take home the new Sovereign Award for female sprinters.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Jockey Club of Canada introduced a filly and mare sprinter division to its list of Sovereign Award categories this year. That addition seems to have come at a propitious time for Tribal Belle, who recorded her third sprint stakes win of the meeting in the $156,500 Bessarabian at seven furlongs here last Sunday.

"I think she'd be a deserving winner," said Terry Jordan, who trains Tribal Belle for the Canvasback Farm of Mike Wiltshire. "Probably six to 6 1/2 furlongs is her best distance. She struggles at seven furlongs, but how can you knock her?"

Tribal Belle, a British Columbia-bred 4-year-old, came to Woodbine last summer off a maiden $8,000 and $35,000 claiming double at Hastings.

Since then, Tribal Belle has fashioned a 6-for-12 mark here, including a four-race win streak through the Grade 3, seven-furlong Seaway, the six-furlong Ontario Fashion, and the Bessarabian.

Tribal Belle had won her three previous starts in front-running fashion, but she stalked the pace from third place in the Bessarabian under regular rider Jim McAleney.

"I asked Jimmy to take her off the pace," said Jordan. "I knew they were going to be taking shots at us early. Why wouldn't they?"

Tribal Belle relaxed nicely en route to her fifth win in six starts this year, with her only loss a third-place finish. She has earned $360,703 this year.

And, Tribal Belle will have the opportunity to relax even more in the near future, as she will be heading to the Classic Mile training center in Florida to spend the off-season with Jordan's assistant trainer and partner, Anita Bolton.

"I've sent nine down there already, and I'll have nine going this week," said Jordan. "I might run some of the cheaper horses down there at Calder if the opportunity arises. It's a learning process - we'll see how it works."

Penalty stings

Jordan experienced a lesson of an unpleasant sort this year when Hollywood Hit, a 3-year-old gelding he trains for Peter Redekop, tested positive for the Class 3 medication acepromazine, a sedative, following his win in the six-furlong King Corrie Stakes here Sept. 30.

While the ruling regarding Jordan himself is pending, Hollywood Hit was banned from racing for 90 days under the terms of an "owner responsibility" rule instituted by the Ontario Racing Commission last year.

Jordan appealed the terms of that rule to the commission, but his case was rejected. Now, he and his lawyers are considering taking their arguments to the Ontario court system.

"It ruined my year," said Jordan. "It could have ruined my life if Peter Redekop hadn't been so understanding."

Smart Surprise disappoints

Smart Surprise, who had finished second in the Grade 3 Whimsical and won the Grade 3 Hendrie, both sprints, could have enhanced her case for the filly/mare sprint title in the Bessarabian. But the 5-year-old mare had to settle for third, beaten two lengths.

"It was terribly disappointing," said Josie Carroll, who trains Smart Surprise for John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings Ltd. "She reared at the start and lost all chance.

"Taking nothing away from the winner - she ran a great race - I really don't think my filly got the opportunity to run her race. She was so far back down the backside."

The Bessarabian was the final career start for Smart Surprise, who soon will be heading to Kentucky to become part of the Hill 'n' Dale broodmare band.

A Kentucky-bred 5-year-old, Smart Surprise retires with a record of 7-8-6 and earnings of $574,580 (Canadian) from 22 career starts. Her lone off-the-board finish came in the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn Park this March.

Smart Surprise, whose first stakes victory came in last year's Bessarabian, followed up her Hendrie score this spring with victories in the Hill 'n' Dale and Ontario Matron, both at 1 1/16 miles.

As the only older filly or mare to win more than one two-turn stakes at the meeting, Smart Surprise is a leading contender for the Sovereign Award in that division.

Her stablemate Serenading, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Maple Leaf here in her last start, could boost her Sovereign stock considerably in Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Falls City Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

Serenading, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old who races for John and Glenn Sikura, also could be headed to the breeding shed following the Falls City.

Looking for more from Authenicat

Carroll also sent out Authenicat to finish fifth in the Bessarabian, and she is hoping that mare will be back in her barn next season.

"I thought Authenicat ran a very good race," said Carroll. "She got a little tired at the end."

Carroll, who will maintain bases at both the Fair Grounds and Palm Meadows this winter, still hopes to start dozen horses through the last week and a half of the meeting.

Those entrants could include Redverse, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old filly owned by Jim and Alice Sapara, who could face males in the $150,000 Display at 1 1/16 miles here Dec. 5.

"I may bring her right back against the boys," said Carroll, who sent out Redverse to win a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles as the only filly in a field of six here Nov. 15.

Carroll won the Display last year with Patena, who defeated the filly Hooh Why by a head.