10/14/2008 11:00PM

Vella has trio for two stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Danny Vella won both the River Memories and Maple Leaf with Like a Gem at Woodbine last fall when the races were run two weeks apart.

Vella won't be able to pull off quite the same coup this year, since the River Memories and the Maple Leaf are being run on consecutive afternoons, and will have to try to pull off the double with different fillies here this weekend.

Pleasant Review and It's True Love are Vella's entrants for Saturday's $100,000 River Memories, a one-mile overnight turf stakes for fillies and mares.

On Sunday, Vella plans to send out Whitepark Bay for the $175,000 Maple Leaf, a 1o1/4-mile race for fillies and mares.

Pleasant Review, It's True Love, and Whitepark Bay all are owned by Edward Seltzer and were based in Maryland with trainer Rodney Jenkins before joining Vella's string here.

It's True Love was the first to appear locally, finishing last of eight in the June 22 Hill 'n' Dale in her last start.

"She wasn't breathing properly," said Vella. "We did a small operation; we're hoping that corrected the problem."

Whitepark Bay and Pleasant Review came north to Vella in mid-summer.

The first to show up in the entries was Whitepark Bay, who finished 10th but was beaten just four lengths in a first-level allowance over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf here Aug. 1.

"She didn't run a bad race, but she was not herself," said Vella. "She's probably not a sprinter. We freshened her and ran her back at the end of the month."

That appearance came in the Ontario Colleen, a one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies in which Whitepark Bay finished fifth in a field of 12, beaten 6 1/2 lengths.

But it was in her next and most recent start, which came in a first-level allowance over 1 1/8 miles in her Polytrack debut here Sept. 20, that Whitepark Bay showed her true colors, winning by 1 1/4 lengths.

"She handled it very well," said Vella, "and the distance helped, too, I think. The more I get to know her, the farther I think she'll go.

"I know the Maple Leaf is a tougher race but I think she'll excel at a mile and a quarter."

Pleasant Review also had her first taste of Polytrack when making her local debut here Sept. 10 in a first-level allowance that was taken off the turf and run over a mile and 70 yards.

"We thought she might handle the Polytrack but she didn't run her race, that was for sure," said Vella. "It was disappointing.

"But when we ran her back in a couple of weeks she did what we thought she'd do, and ran a huge race."

Pleasant Review's pleasing performance came in a first-level allowance over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in which she scored by 3 1/4 lengths and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

"I don't think the mile will be any problem," said Vella, noting that Pleasant Review had finished a close second over one mile on turf at Pimlico for Jenkins.

Tyler Pizarro is named aboard both Pleasant Review and It's True Love. Robert Landry retains the mount on Whitepark Bay.

Stranger Things takes aim at Fanfreluche

Trainer Lorne Richards had a disappointing day last Monday, watching Shut It Down finish a faltering fourth as the second choice in the six-furlong Bull Page and Conflicting Report end last of 12 in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race.

Richards will be looking to turn things around here Saturday when he sends out Stranger Things in the $150,000 Fanfreluche, a six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies.

Stranger Things, Shut It Down, and Conflicting Report were purchased privately from trainer Mark Casse in a package deal and now race for owner K.K. Sangara.

After romping by seven lengths in her first appearance for her new interests in an Ontario-sired maiden special, Stranger Things finished third as the 2-1 second choice when traveling the same six-furlong distance in the restricted Victorian Queen.

"She was antsy in the gate; she was a little bit nervous," said jockey Jim McAleney, who felt Stranger Things did not run up to her potential.

McAleney will be elsewhere Saturday as he will return aboard Edamame, who is coming off a very impressive maiden score and was supplemented to the Bull Page by trainer Malcolm Pierce. Tyler Pizarro picks up the mount on Stranger Things.

Extended vacation for Marlang

Marlang, winner of the Breeders' here and the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga before faltering to finish last of 10 in the Canadian International, will not see action again this season.

"I'm going to lay him up," said Debbie England, who trains Marlang for owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz. "He's doing okay; he's just done enough for this season."

Marlang is scheduled to ship out next week for the farm in South Carolina where the Schickedanz stock winters with trainer Mike Keogh, who trains the stable's other runners here.

"We'll let him grow up a bit," said England. "He's always been a bit spirited."

That tendency caught up with Marlang in the Canadian International as he became wound up when coming over for the race, was difficult to handle in the saddling area, and washed out badly in the post parade.

"He picked a bad day to lose his mind," said England.

Marlang, who also won the Charlie Barley here over one mile of turf, concludes his 3-year-old campaign with 4 wins, 1 third, and earnings of $469,610 from 7 starts.

Lauro preps for Sky Classic

Lauro, the German invader who stayed on for the Sky Classic following his seventh-place finish in the Canadian International, breezed three furlongs in 38.40 seconds over the turf course on Wednesday morning.

Marketa Cernocka, who has been supervising Lauro's preparations on behalf of trainer Andreas Wohler, was aboard for the exercise.

Lauro was beaten 5 1/2 lengths in the Canadian International in his first start in more than 18 months.

The Grade 2, $250,000 Sky Classic, a 1 3/8- mile turf race, will be run next Saturday and also is expected to attract Canadian International comebackers Spice Route and Seaside Retreat as well as recent allowance winners Royal Challenger and Windward Islands.