06/02/2009 12:00AM

Windward Islands gets back to work


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad captured Sunday's Plate Trial Stakes with the upstart Eye of the Leopard. They'll try to keep the ball rolling Thursday at Woodbine when they run Windward Islands in the fourth race, a third-level $80,000 optional claimer over nine furlongs on the grass.

Windward Islands has competed exclusively in graded stakes since winning a second-level allowance at Keeneland in October. He made three starts over the winter at the Fair Grounds, the first of which was a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley Handicap in January. Windward Islands rallied for second in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap in February. He wasn't badly beaten when eighth last time out in another race over about 1 1/8 miles March 14, the Grade 2 Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap.

"We couldn't get a race long enough for him in New Orleans," Frostad said. "We had him at Keeneland, and he didn't really take to that track very well. We were going to run him in the Elkhorn, but he had an episode where he tied up. He's been training great ever since he got back to Woodbine."

Even though Windward Islands won the nine-furlong Toronto Cup Stakes during his 3-year-old season, Frostad believes that distance isn't his optimum.

"It's a little short for him," Frostad said. "He probably wants a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half. We just want to get a start into him, to figure out what to do with him."

Eurico Da Silva picks up the mount on Windward Islands, a 5-year-old Cozzene gelding.

Safety Zone wound up third in both of his starts last winter at Santa Anita. He finished four lengths in arrears when fifth most recently in a third-level allowance at Keeneland. Leading rider Patrick Husbands will get a leg up from trainer Mark Casse on Safety Zone, who scored twice over Woodbine's turf course in 2008.

Kentucky shipper Guadalcanal was a well-beaten fourth last time in a sloppy-track allowance that was taken off the grass at Churchill. His best trip is probably 1 1/2 miles on the grass.

Stretch-runner Trackerman won a second-level optional claimer at the Fair Grounds in December. He wasn't a factor in his two local outings last year, and this will be his first start with blinkers.

Rounding out the field are Torquay and Cobotown Ron.