04/16/2009 12:00AM

Verdana Bold gets bigger, stronger

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Around this time last spring, Verdana Bold was making her local debut with a 22-1 win in the six-furlong Star Shoot for 3-year-old fillies.

Saturday at Woodbine, Verdana Bold will be looking for a similar result at a lesser price in the six-furlong Whimsical for fillies and mares.

"She sure matured well from 3 to 4," said Danny Vella, who trains Verdana Bold for owner Ed Seltzer. "She's bigger and stronger, and a little more patient."

Verdana Bold, a Kentucky-bred, scored in her first career start at Laurel in December 2007 and also won a first-level allowance race there for trainer Rodney Jenkins before joining Vella's string at Woodbine.

Following the Star Shoot, Verdana Bold doubled up at 7-1 in the Grade 3 Selene over 1 1/16 miles and later was beaten a nose in the seven-furlong Duchess.

In her other two starts here, Verdana Bold was unplaced in a turf stakes and was put away after faltering to finish eighth in the one-mile Ontario Colleen on Aug. 30.

"She had raced all winter, and we thought she needed a break," said Vella. "We wanted her fresh for this year.

"She left for Florida soon after that last race, and had some good time off. She started back training in December; she's always been pointing to this race. She's training great."

Verdana Bold prepped for the Whimsical with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.40 here last Sunday.

Field Commission may run in Cartier

Vella also is hoping for a big year from Field Commission, a 4-year-old colt whom he owns in partnership with Solera Farm.

Field Commission, an Ontario-bred, won a six-furlong maiden race in his debut here last May 4 and concluded his 11-race campaign with a close fourth-place finish in the Grade 3, six-furlong Kennedy Road Nov. 22.

In nine interim appearances, Field Commission compiled a record of 3-2-2 with his wins coming consecutively in September and October.

"We always liked him," said Vella. "He took a little while to get the hang of it; he's one of those horses that matured a little bit later than some. His last race was great; he had a real wide trip."

Field Commission also wintered in Florida and underwent surgery before getting some time off.

"We took a little chip out of a hind ankle," said Vella. "He's doing very, very well."

Field Commission is nominated to the $150,000 Jacques Cartier, a six-furlong race for 4-year-olds and upward here next Saturday.

"He's close, but I'm not positive if he'll run yet," said Vella. "I think he's competitive with this sort."

London Snow tries open company

Trainer John Charalambous will have contestants for both stakes races this weekend with London Snow entered for the Whimsical and Campfire Girl for Sunday's Star Shoot.

London Snow, an Ontario-sired 6-year-old, and Campfire Girl, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old, will be making their seasonal bows after wintering in Ontario.

London Snow has been a winner first crack out in three of her first four campaigns, including a victory under third-level allowance terms at 6 1/2 furlongs here last spring.

"She's training real well," said Charalambous. "We're just going to take a shot; there aren't a lot of options. The first Ontario-sired stakes for her isn't until June."

That race is the six-furlong Ballade, for Ontario-sired fillies and mares that will be run here June 13.

London Snow won the Ballade last year in her second appearance of the season.

Campfire Girl finished fourth in her five-furlong debut here last year before graduating over six furlongs.

Charalambous then sent the filly to Presque Isle Downs, where she ran third in the six-furlong Debutante before winding up her campaign with a sixth-place finish here in a first-level allowance at the same distance.

"She's ready; hopefully, she's good enough," said Charalambous.

Allowance first test for Keino West

Keino West, who stamped himself as a Queen's Plate prospect with an impressive maiden win over 1 1/16 miles here last Nov. 23, returns to action in a first-level allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs here Saturday.

The $1 million Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run June 21.

Trained by Steve Attard, Keino West wintered in Ontario and returned to the racetrack in mid-February.

"We're behind the eight-ball a bit, I think, but he seems okay," said Attard. "This race is going to be a little short for him but you have to start somewhere."

Attard had nominated Keino West to last Saturday's six-furlong Achievement but elected to await the allowance spot.

"I didn't think it was fair to run him in the stakes, against winter-trained horses," said Attard. "He tries so hard, he might have hurt himself."

Keino West has been nominated to the May 2 Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds that is the next stakes stepping-stone on the road to the Queen's Plate.

"We have lots of options," said Attard. "I'd like to go into the Plate, if we're good enough, winning a race or two.

"Our guy will go a mile and a quarter, but we can't afford any setbacks."

Saskawea points to Hendrie

Attard also is looking forward to the return of Saskawea, the multiple stakes-winning 5-year-old mare whom he trains for owner and breeder Les Pereira.

Last year, Saskawea wintered in Florida and made it to the races just five times, winning the Avowal over seven furlongs on turf on Sept. 27 and finishing second to Smart Surprise when making her final start of the year in the seven-furlong Bessarabian on Nov. 23.

"She had throat surgery, and all kinds of pus pockets," said Attard. "We changed some stuff on her, and I thought her last race was the best race she ran all year."

Saskawea stayed home in Ontario this winter and has breezed three times since coming back into the racetrack, with the latest a bullet four furlongs in 46.60 seconds on Tuesday.

"She's in great shape right now," said Attard, who is pointing Saskawea for the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie, a Grade 3 race for fillies and mares on May 10.