09/27/2005 11:00PM

U.S. shippers rarely succeed


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Leroidesanimaux's recent Atto Mile victory was arguably one of the most spectacular efforts in Woodbine history. He blew away a good field with embarrassing ease in the $1 million event, earning a Beyer Figure of 114, the highest turf Beyer recorded this year in North America.

The win was even more impressive when you consider that he shipped in shortly before the race, and had never run over soggy ground before (the turf course was upgraded from soft to yielding just prior to the Atto).

Of the 10 United States invaders who competed in the three grass stakes on Atto Mile Day, Leroidesanimaux was the only one to finish second or better.

Local fillies and mares dominated the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap, filling the top four positions while producing a superfecta which returned nearly $5,000.

Woodbine-based 2-year-olds Bear's Kid and Badge of Truth ran one-two in the Grade 2 Summer, the other supporting stakes on the card. The four New York shippers in the one-mile Summer all disappointed - Wedding Singer ran third, Smoke Em Again was fourth, Kid Carousel finished fifth, and the 4-5 favorite, Baur Au Lac, trailed the seven-horse field.

Because of the giving nature of the ground, a lack of fitness may have been a factor on Atto Day. Royal Regalia had only started once this year heading into the Atto, in which he set the early pace before fading badly. A to the Z had also run sporadically, and the only horse he beat was Royal Regalia. Baur Au Lac had won his lone start on July 2 at Belmont, and was only in contention for about a half-mile in the Summer.

Two-year-old U.S. shippers have fared poorly here in stakes this year, often at short odds. Fifty Seven Flat started the trend on June 19 when he came from Kentucky for the Victoria, in which he finished third at 3-5.

Belmont invader Successful Romance was the 6-5 favorite in the My Dear on July 2, but could only manage fourth, while Arlington runner Honey Gold finished seventh at 3-1 in the race.

Kentucky shipper Key West Breeze was bet down to 2-5 in the Colin on July 23, and finished second after trying to lug in through the stretch.

There were two U.S. runners in the Natalma on Sept. 11, the best of whom was Leesburg Express, who ran sixth at 7-1. Shelterfromastorm, the 2-1 favorite from Saratoga, wound up seventh after pressing the pace.

Woodbine trainer Mike DePaulo said he believes that shippers have their work cut out for them if they arrive here within a few days of their engagement.

"I think shippers generally don't do that well here, because Woodbine isn't really that close to anywhere," DePaulo explained. "Anytime you come here, it's a long van ride, and you can get hung up at the border for a while. Some people think you need a race over the track, but I think a lot of the time, it's just the distance they have to travel which knocks them out. Traveling in the heat during the summer can be tough on horses, and it might be even harder on 2-year-olds, because they're not as developed as older horses.

"The only horses who seem to do really well shipping here are the ones who come to run on the grass," DePaulo added.

Two juveniles from Alberta have won stakes here recently, Bear's Kid and Bear Character. Bear's Kid finished second in the allowance prep for the Summer in his first local appearance, but Bear Character hadn't worked here prior to his win in last Sunday's Swynford Stakes.

It is worth noting that Unification came from Saratoga to win here at 4-5 in a Sept. 17 maiden special weight contest. However, 2-year-olds from the U.S. should be viewed with some skepticism throughout the remainder of the meeting, and are definitely worth trying to beat at a short price.