09/16/2011 12:52PM

Woodbine: Al Khali will try to avoid trouble in Northern Dancer

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Al Khali, won the 2010 Bowling Green but is 0 for 6 so far this season.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Al Khali’s only trip to Woodbine, for last year’s Canadian International, was memorable for all the wrong reasons. He had a terrible trip in the lucrative Grade 1 stakes, and was arguably best while ending up a close fourth.

Al Khali returns for Sunday’s supporting feature on Woodbine Mile Day, the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, and will try to end a drought in the 12-furlong marathon, which is worth a cool $500,000.

Al Khali, trained by Bill Mott, is winless in six starts this year although he missed by a nose in an allowance at Keeneland. He most recently wound up third behind Winchester and Rahy’s Attorney after encountering some trouble in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 13.

“We got bothered inside the eighth pole,” said Mott. “It might have cost us a placing. We had a pretty good trip until that point. It seems like he runs better when he gets in a lot of trouble.”

Bourbon Bay, based in Southern California with trainer Neil Drysdale, is making his first local appearance since he was a struggling allowance runner in the fall of 2009. He had a stellar 2010 campaign, which included three Grade 2 stakes scores at Santa Anita, and is coming off a narrow loss over 11 furlongs in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap.

Morning line favorite Wigmore Hall, a talented runner from England trained by Michael Bell, made both of his starts on this side of the pond at Arlington. He was second last year in the Grade 1 Secretariat, and was recently a troubled fourth in the Grade 1 Arlington Million.

Mark Casse, Woodbine’s runaway leading trainer, sends out Seaside Retreat and Hailstone.

Seaside Retreat finished seventh when returning from a 2 3/4-year layoff on July 23 in an optional claimer at Saratoga. A month later, he rallied for second in a one-mile optional claimer here around one turn.

“The first race back, he got in all kinds of trouble, and probably should have won,” Casse said. “The second race, a mile isn’t his game, but it was the only thing available. His work on Sept. 7 was as good as I’ve seen him work. He went five-eighths in 1:01, and the rider couldn’t get him pulled up until the five-sixteenths pole.”

Hailstone was competitive in each of his four starts at the meet, all in graded stakes, without finding the mark.

“Every time I run him, they say it’s too far for him, but he’s always running on end,” said Casse. “I don’t think a mile and a half is going to stop him.”

Trainer Roger Attfield entered Simmard, who was fourth in both the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes in June, and in his last start in the restricted John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga.

Completing the field are probable pacemaker Hotep and Laureate Conductor, who hasn’t shown much since being claimed for $62,500 in June.