10/26/2009 11:00PM

Wallis considers holding Silver Z for Bessarabian

Michael Burns
Saskawea in will be sold as a broodmare prospect at Keeneland on Nov. 12.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Nathan Wallis, who checked into Woodbine without fanfare late this summer, had his first winner here last Sunday when Venom captured a $10,000 claiming race for nonwinners-of-three.

Venom was the 10th starter at the meeting for Wallis, a 37-year-old native of Texas who took out his trainer's license in 2000 but had established a thorough foundation long before that as he grew up around horses on his family's Dormello Farm in Decatur, Texas.

"I started out riding and shoeing my own," said Wallis. "I always did everything with the horses. The thing most people learn on the racetrack, I'd learned myself at home."

Wallis, who saddled his first winner at Sam Houston in November 2000, had competed primarily at the Texas tracks and Oaklawn Park before being introduced to racing in Ontario through Hank Gensler, an assistant trainer in the Steve Asmussen barn here.

"Last year, after Lone Star, I went to Del Mar," said Wallis. "Hank, who is a good friend, suggested I check out Woodbine. I flew up here, and looked at it. I thought it was the nicest facility I'd ever seen."

After completing his Oaklawn-Lone Star circuit this year Wallis came north and got a foot in the door with four stalls.

In addition to Venom his horses here are Silver Z, Endless Gossip, and Van Eyes

Endless Gossip is a 3-year-old colt who has been racing in maiden claiming company and Van Eyes is an unstarted 2-year-old filly who should be in the entries soon.

Silver Z, meanwhile is a 7-year-old mare who could boost Wallis's profile in the waning weeks of the meet.

Bred in California, Silver Z won the restricted Warren's Thoroughbreds Stakes over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park in the spring of 2007 and followed up with an impressive win in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles.

But, after clearing her second allowance condition over 7 1/2 furlongs the following spring, Silver Z faced Zenyatta in back-to-back two turn races, weakening after opening clear early leads.

Following a similar effort in the restricted Solana Beach over one mile of turf, Silver Z was purchased privately by Wallis.

"I'd watched her run, and I always liked her," said Wallis. "I'd see her go to the front, with horses like Zenyatta, and open up huge leads. I wondered why they never sprinted her."

"After California I brought her back to Texas and turned her out. She had no problems; we just gave her time."

Silver Z did get to sprint in her first start for Wallis but the race was her first in 14 months and came against males here Oct. 17 in the Grade 2 Nearctic, a six-furlong turf race in which she was prominent early before fading to finish last of 11.

"She needed a race," said Wallis. "I'd entered her three times in prep races, but they never went."

With that race under her belt, Silver Z was scheduled to run back against fellow fillies and mares in Sunday's $150,000 Ontario Fashion at six furlongs on the main track.

Wallis may change that plan, however, after watching Silver Z breeze four furlongs in an unexpectedly quick 46.00 seconds here last Sunday.

"She ran off," said Wallis, who caught Silver Z galloping out five furlongs in 57.60. "We'll have to see how she comes out of it."

If Silver Z does not make the Ontario Fashion then Wallis will be looking for an allowance race to set her up for the $150,000 Bessarabian, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares here Nov. 22.

And when the meeting winds up here Wallis will be heading home to follow his usual racing program with one key change in mind.

"I hope to return here in April," said Wallis. "As many stalls as they'll give me, I can fill them."

Saskawea up for sale at Keeneland

Saskawea, a 5-year-old who was heading for the Ontario Fashion, has been retired after sustaining a minor injury.

"She has a little bit of filling in a tendon," said Steve Attard, who has trained Saskawea throughout her 24-start career for owner/breeder Les Pereira.

"You hate to see her go, but what can you do?"

Saskawea had been cataloged for Keeneland's November breeding stock sale and now will proceed to that venue and go on the block Nov. 12.

Bred in Ontario, Saskawea won seven races, including five stakes, and retires on a successful note after capturing the off-the-turf Avowal over seven furlongs on the main track here Oct. 3 to boost her career bankroll to $822,161.

Saskawea also had won the only previous running of the Avowal, an open overnight stakes which was run as scheduled on the turf course.

Her other stakes scores came in the Zadracarta, a six-furlong overnight turf stakes; the Ruling Angel over 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track, and the seven-furlong Fury for Ontario-foals on the main track.

Saskawea also finished second eight times with those runner-up efforts including the Woodbine Oaks, Wonder Where, Selene, Bessarabian, Glorious Song, Fanfreluche, and Repercussion, and a third in the Belle Geste and River Memories.

Keino West has knee surgery

Keino West, the other big horse in the Attard barn, has been sent to the farm and is through for the season.

"He had a chip on his knee," said Attard. "We had to do surgery on him."

Keino West, who competed in all three legs of Canada's Triple Crown with a fourth in Fort Erie's Prince of Wales his best finish, had recorded his first win of the season in a first-level allowance over 1 1/8 miles of turf here Sept. 26.

In his next-to-last start, Keino West became stakes-placed when second to the 4-year-old Sand Cove in the Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile yearling sales stakes for colts and geldings. On the year, Keino West banked $134,300 through nine starts.