08/09/2009 11:00PM

Turf next challenge for Ghost Fleet

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Michael Burns
Ghost Fleet is 2 for 2 on Polytrack after his easy win in Sunday's Vandal.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ghost Fleet entered Sunday's $151,600 Vandal at Woodbine as a promising winner of his only start.

But, after watching Ghost Fleet wreak havoc on his Vandal opponents with an overpowering 4 3/4-length victory, it would appear that the sky could be the limit for the homebred colt owned by Mel Lawson and trained by Sid Attard.

"I was right," said a jubilant Attard, who in uncharacteristic fashion had spoken extremely highly of Ghost Fleet heading into the six-furlong Vandal, in which his 1:09.64 clocking yielded a Beyer Speed Figure of 82.

"Good horses show you right away,"he said. "He's got so much class, this horse. When you see him in the paddock, you know he's a really good one."

Ghost Fleet had worked particularly well on grass, and had been slated to make his debut on that surface, but that plan did not come to fruition.

Instead, the Canadian-bred Ghost Fleet began his career in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race here July 19 and rallied for a three-quarter-length win.

"I thought he might be better on grass, but I can't say that any more after he ran so good here," said Attard following the Vandal.

Ghost Fleet should get his chance on grass next time out with his major target being the Grade 3, $300,000 Summer, a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race at one mile on turf here Sept. 19.

First, Attard could run Ghost Fleet in a turf prep.

"We'll wait and see," said the trainer. "I don't want to give him too many races. There are a couple of good races for him here at the end of the year."

Utterly Cool may return in late fall

Utterly Cool, a 3-year-old half-brother to Ghost Fleet, won one of those "good races" last year - the $250,000 Cup and Saucer at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

And the Lawson homebred was preparing for the other, the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity, when he sustained a knee injury that required surgery.

Utterly Cool, who has been in Kentucky since last fall, has just returned to training, and Jim Lawson, the son of the owner, said the colt could be ready to run by November.

By that time the turf season here will have ended. Utterly Cool, who made all of his four starts on that surface, with a fourth-place finish in the Summer his only defeat, could be looking to resume his career south of the border.

Jungle Wave sharp in stakes prep

Ghost Fleet was one of four winners on the day and 10 on the week for jockey Todd Kabel, who also teamed up with Attard for a double here Saturday.

Their first success on that card came with Jungle Wave, who smashed the course record with his 1:13.27 clocking for 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in the prep for the Play the King.

"I liked the way he finished," said Attard. "He just pulled away."

Jungle Wave, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-gelding, was claimed for $62,500 here June 26 and has banked more than $120,000 in three outings for Attard and owners Carlo and Lou Tucci.

Jungle Wave now will be looking to become a stakes winner in the Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race here Aug. 29.

Canadian next for Points of Grace

Trainer Malcolm Pierce was at Arlington Park on Saturday, sending out Beverly D. fifth-place finisher Points of Grace.

"It was a good performance, for her first try in a Grade 1," said Pierce, noting that Points of Grace had been beaten just three lengths. "She'd never run on turf that giving, and with a little bit of a better trip I think she could have been third."

Points of Grace now will aim for the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares here Sept. 20.

Carem Crescent may try turf

Pierce was back home by 10 p.m. on Saturday and settling in to watch a tape of the $182,700 Duchess, which Carem Crescent had won for him here during his absence.

"She was quite impressive," said Pierce. "She's quite a nice filly. She'd just worked phenomenally last week. I hate to be too confident, but I'd sure liked our chances."

Carem Crescent, bred in Ontario by her owner, Eugene Melnyk, is now perfect in three starts and was making her stakes debut in the seven-furlong Duchess.

The Grade 3, $250,000 Selene, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies here Sept. 26, is a possible long-term target for Carem Crescent, and a move to turf also could be considered.

"As long as she's okay, those are options," said Pierce. "It a nice decision to have."

Sterwins earns a vacation

Pierce was back in the stakes winner's circle here Sunday afternoon after Sterwins, a homebred 6-year-old gelding whom he trains for Eugene and Laura Melnyk, captured the $100,000 With Approval.

The With Approval, a 1 1/8-mile overnight stakes, had been scheduled for the turf but was moved to the main track after the rains came late Sunday morning.

"I wasn't upset it came off," said Pierce, noting that Sterwins had been very effective on Polytrack but not so on less than firm turf. "But, I was worried about Ice Bear getting a soft pace."

Ice Bear, who had won last year's With Approval when the race came off the turf, did in fact lead through some comfortable fractions and battled hard before succumbing to Sterwins by a neck.

Sterwins was stretching back out for the With Approval after cutting back to seven furlongs of turf for the Ontario Jockey Club here July 18, where he finished furiously but was beaten a neck by Just Rushing.

While Sterwins had been running well in longer turf races, the Melnyks also had Marchfield, who is trained by Mark Casse, for upcoming turf routes, and the Sterwins experiment was undertaken with an eye toward the Play the King.

"He couldn't get up going seven-eighths, and the Play the King's going to be a lot tougher," said Pierce. "He's danced quite a bit. He's going to get a good month off now."

The With Approval was the sixth start of the year for Sterwins, who has recorded a pair of wins and a pair of seconds in four stakes appearances at this meeting under regular rider Patrick Husbands.