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Two wins to influence votes
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last Sunday's two stakes at Woodbine shaped up as significant harbingers for the year-end Sovereign Awards.
Ginger Brew's 4 1/4-length win in the $150,000 Jammed Lovely strengthened her position in the 3-year-filly division, while Marchfield's half-length score in the $165,250 Autumn scrambled an already wide-open race for champion male on the main track.
Ginger Brew was making her first start since finishing second in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate on June 22. She was qualifying for Sovereign Award consideration by making her third Canadian appearance of the season in the Jammed Lovely.
Shortening up to seven furlongs, Ginger Brew took charge through a moderate opening quarter, then turned back challenges from Nicki Knew and Authenicat before coasting to victory.
"Nobody wanted the lead and she's got that kind of speed, especially when she's fresh," said Brian Lynch, who trains the homebred Ginger Brew for Stronach Stable.
Ginger Brew, who had won the Calder Oaks over 1 1/8 miles of turf this April prior to capturing the Woodbine Oaks over 1 1/8 miles of Polytrack in her local 2008 debut, is scheduled to make her next start at Calder in the My Charmer Dec. 6.
The My Charmer, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, is a Grade 3 with a purse of $100,000.
"We'll look forward to a good winter campaign at Gulfstream," said Lynch.
Marchfield ran like he trained
True Metropolitan, Palladio, Rosberg, Artie Hot and Ice Bear all stood to gain mightily in their divisional race, but it was Marchfield who proved best in the Grade 2 Autumn over 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
Marchfield, a homebred 4-year-old owned by Melnyk Racing Stable and trained by Mark Casse, had won allowance races on the main track here and on the turf at Churchill Downs this year, but his only stakes score had come in the Breeders' over 1 1/2 miles of turf here last summer.
"He's been training really good, been really sharp," said Casse. "We were worried that the mile and a sixteenth was too short for him, but they picked up the pace after a slow first quarter.
"He got stopped cold at the eighth pole. I think he was much the best."
Marchfield, who was a half-length winner on Sunday, was coming off a second-place finish behind Palladio in the Grade 3 Durham Cup over 1 1/8 miles of Polytrack and earlier was beaten a nose as the runner-up to Ice Bear over the same distance and surface as the With Approval.
Casse believes Marchfield prefers synthetic surfaces to turf, and will include the colt in his Santa Anita contingent this winter.
Also in that group will be Marchfield's 2-year-old half-brother, Congor Bay, who has won over both Polytrack and turf in his only two outings here.
"I think he's going to be a real good grass horse," said Casse.
Lucrative day for Husbands
Patrick Husbands rode both Ginger Brew and Marchfield, bringing his stakes-winning total for the meeting to eight.
Heading into the final four weeks of the meeting Husbands is running second in races won with 133, 12 behind leader Jim McAleney and 28 ahead of third-place Emma-Jayne Wilson.
Husbands leads all riders in earnings with $8.1 million. McAleney is next with $7.85 million.
Shut It Down's adventurous trip
Shut It Down seemed to be going easily on the lead and headed for victory in the six-furlong Bull Page here Oct. 13, but faltered and finished fourth.
So trainer Lorne Richards and Shut It Down's new rider, Tyler Pizarro, decided on a change of tactics for last Saturday's seven-furlong Frost King for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.
"There's a long run to the turn, with speed inside him," said Richards. "The plan was to take him back. I thought he'd be laying third, a length or two back."
That plan went out the window when Shut It Down bobbled a couple of steps out of the gate and suddenly trailed in the field of eight in the $126,200 Frost King.
But the stumble turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Shut It Down settled nicely and then reeled in his seven rivals with a wide move en route to a 5 1/2-length victory.
"I could see he dropped the bit and settled nicely," said Richards. "But I didn't expect him to swoop by them like that."
Shut It Down came back without his right front shoe and with a damaged foot.
"He broke the shoe off pretty clean," said Richards. "He ripped his foot up a little bit, but we should be able to get it patched up."
If all goes well, Shut It Down will stretch out for the $125,000 Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds here Nov. 29.
"I always thought he'd run long," said Richards. "He moves so efficiently. It takes less effort for him. He just seems to settle down good."
Pizarro heats up
Pizarro, who was Canada's champion apprentice last year, was blanked with his first 84 stakes mounts, but now has won with 3 of his last 5.
After breaking through with Hello Maggie May in the $125,000 Classy 'n Smart on Oct. 15, the 22-year-old Pizarro then captured the Grade 2, $250,000 Sky Classic aboard Lauro here Oct. 25.
Stranger Things tries two turns Wednesday
Richards will be looking for an encore on Wednesday when Stranger Things, who was part of a package purchased from Casse that also included Shut It Down, runs in the 1 1/16-mile South Ocean for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.
Stranger Things has started twice for Richards, graduating impressively over seven furlongs, then finishing third in the six-furlong Victorian Queen, with both races coming in Ontario-sired company.
She was entered in the six-furlong Fanfreluche here Oct 17, but was a late scratch.
"A couple of things put me off running her there," said Richards. "It was a little quick back, and there were a couple of really tough fillies in there. I didn't want to throw her to the wolves."
Stranger Things will be racing beyond six furlongs for the first time in the $125,000 South Ocean, but Richards is optimistic.
"I like her going two turns," he said. "I don't see any reason she wouldn't handle it."
* Freyga, a promising 2-year-old filly owned by Thor Eaton and trained by Mike Doyle, suffered a fatal breakdown while working on the main track here Sunday morning. Although winless in five starts, Freyga had made her last four appearances in stakes and was beaten a neck as the runner-up in the Grade 3 Natalma.