11/07/2006 12:00AM

Vacations for two Sovereign locks


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - While a number of Eclipse Award candidates were cementing their credentials on Breeders' Cup Day at Churchill Downs last Saturday, a pair of Canadian champions-in-waiting were spending a quiet afternoon in their stalls here at Woodbine.

Arravale, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly trained by Mac Benson, and Sky Conqueror, an Ontario-bred 3-year-old colt trained by Darwin Banach, both wrapped up titles in their respective Sovereign Award turf categories by putting in strong performances in their last starts here Oct. 22.

Arravale, winner of the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, should dominate the filly-and-mare turf vote and appears to have the inside track in the Horse of the Year balloting.

Sky Conqueror, an unlucky third in the Grade 1 Canadian International, looms a solid choice in the voting for male turf performer.

Although both had been considered for future appearances this season, neither Arravale nor Sky Conqueror will race again until 2007.

"We thought about going back to California with her, but I think she's done enough for the year," said Benson, who trains Arravale for owner Bob Costigan.

Arravale made two trips to California this summer, finishing third in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park in July and winning the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August. In addition to the E.P. Taylor, Arravale's other starts here at Woodbine resulted in a victory in the Alywow and a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Canadian.

Arravale earned more than $1 million in her five starts this year. She is slated to ship down to Payson Park early next month.

"We'll get together over the winter and figure out how to engineer a campaign for her," said Benson.

Sky Conqueror, whose options for the balance of 2006 had included races in Hong Kong and California, instead left Woodbine for the farm Monday.

"We're going to give him two or three weeks at the farm, then head to Florida with him," said Banach, who trains Sky Conqueror for owner and breeder Bill Sorokolit. "We'll probably look at a stakes at Gulfstream, and then possibly consider Dubai. Of course, my main objective is still to have him 100 percent when we come back here."

Sky Conqueror made his season debut at Keeneland, but made the rest of his six starts on the local turf course, scoring in the Grade 2 King Edward and Northern Dancer and finishing with earnings of almost $900,000.

"We'd like to maybe spread our wings a little bit with him this coming year," said Banach. "We might consider races like the Arlington Million or the Man O'War."

No Cup sparks for Skip Code

Skip Code, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old colt who was the only Woodbine-based horse to participate on the Breeders' Cup card, was taken out of his game early and finished ninth in the Juvenile.

Breaking from post 14 under Patrick Husbands, Skip Code was bothered on the first turn and never reached serious contention.

"A horse inside him tried to bolt and nailed us pretty good going into the first turn," said Mark Casse, who trains Skip Code for owner Charles Laloggia. "He was exhausted after the race. I'd never really seen this horse really get tired. I don't know whether he got the air knocked out of him, or whether he struggled with the racetrack. The race was so bad I'm just going to throw it out and start over."

Skip Code has gone to Moonshadow Farm in Florida, where he will be based this winter.

"The plan always has been to give him a little break," said Casse.

Skip Code won 2 of his 4 starts here, including the Grey 3 Grey, and earned $197,260.

Marchfield takes step forward

Casse's Breeders' Cup discouragement was tempered somewhat here Sunday by the performance of Marchfield, who finished second to Leonnatus Anteas in the $294,765 Coronation Futurity.

"I thought he ran a tremendous race in only his second start," said Casse. "I'm aiming him for Gulfstream. He'll probably race there in the latter part of January."

Marchfield, a homebred colt by A.P. Indy who races for Melnyk Racing Stable, stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in the Coronation Futurity.

In his debut here four weeks earlier, Marchfield finished a closing second in a six-furlong maiden special.

Sealy Hill works for Ontario Lassie

Sealy Hill, a promising homebred 2-year-old filly owned by the Melnyks, worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 for Casse here Tuesday morning.

An Ontario-bred filly by Point Given, Sealy Hill finished third in her seven-furlong debut and then came back to score by 7 1/4 lengths over the same distance, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

Casse said he is pointing Sealy Hill to the $150,000 Ontario Lassie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies, to be run here Dec. 2.

Sealy Hill also is nominated to the $125,000 Glorious Song, an open seven-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies here Nov. 19. Casse will be represented in the race by Sprung.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Woodford Racing LLC, Sprung breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 here Tuesday and will be looking to rebound from a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Mazarine over 1 1/16 miles here Sept. 30. The Mazarine was the second start for Sprung, who upset the Grade 3 Natalma over one mile on turf in her debut.

* Homesteader, who has won 3 of 4 starts this year and is trained by Gary Capuano in Maryland, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40 here Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's $150,000 Jammed Lovely. The Jammed Lovely is a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.