08/20/2010 4:24PM

Windward Islands must give weight in Sky Classic

Michael Burns
Windward Islands comeback win in the Nijinsky has earned him high weight in Sunday's Grade 2 Sky Classic.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Windward Islands won his return from a 14-month layoff July 24 in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes. The penalty he’ll pay for that surprising score is high weight of 123 pounds in Sunday’s Grade  2, $250,000 Sky Classic Stakes at Woodbine.

The 6-year-old Windward Islands has been hindered by minor problems throughout his career, according to trainer Mark Frostad. Over a yielding course in the nine-furlong Nijinsky, he rallied from fourth to prevail by 3 1/2 lengths over favored Grand Adventure.

Frostad, who also trains Grand Adventure, said he was pleasantly surprised by Windward Islands’s performance.

“We’d entered him in an allowance race, and it didn’t go,” Frostad said. “Basically, I thought we were just getting a race into him. We were hoping that he’d run well, but we weren’t looking for him to run like that.”

Frostad predicted the six pounds Windward Islands will concede to Marsh Side on Sunday makes the task at hand a tough one.

“He’s going great, but the only trouble is he has to give away a lot of weight,” said Frostad.

Marsh Side, a 7-year-old trained by Neil Drysdale, has a history of excelling at Woodbine. He captured the $2 million Canadian International over Spice Route in 2008, and crossed the wire on top in another Grade 1 stakes last year, the Northern Dancer.

Marsh Side was scratched from the Aug. 14 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga, is cross-entered in Saturday’s Arlington Million, but is expected to run here in the 1 1/4-mile Sky Classic. Marsh Side should be forwardly placed throughout.

Spice Route could be favored off his powerful closing victory July 4 in the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes, his first outing in six months.

“He’s in excellent shape,” said Roger Attfield, who trains Spice Route.

Attfield said he had considered the Sword Dancer for Spice Route.

“The program here for these colts is very good,” Attfield said. “You’ve got the Northern Dancer four weeks after this race, and then you have the International. You don’t have to be shipping around in the heat of the summer.”