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Woodbine: All good things on turf must come to an end - this weekend
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The final weekend of October will feature the final turf races of the Woodbine meeting. Weather permitting, of course.
The River Memories, for fillies and mares, is slated for Saturday and the Labeeb, for 3-year-olds and upward, will go Sunday.
Both the River Memories and Labeeb are $100,000 overnight stakes scheduled for one mile of turf. Both were inaugurated in 2004 and the second and third editions were taken off the grass and run over a mile and 70 yards on the main track.
Saturday’s renewal of the River Memories has attracted a solid field of seven which includes the stakes winners Moonlit Beauty and Valli With a Vow.
The other five entrants – Happy Clapper, Magic Broomstick, Moment of Majesty, Oregon Lady, and Trippi’s Sailor – all are stakes-placed.
Eight locals pre-entered for BC
Eight Woodbine-based horses are among the 193 pre-entries for this year’s Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Mark Casse was the leading contributor with Northern Passion pre-entered in both the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Juvenile Fillies, Spirited Miss in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Sky High Lady in the Juvenile Fillies, and Prospective in the Juvenile. All four horses are already at Churchill Downs.
Those who have yet to make a move from Woodbine are Excaper (Juvenile Turf); Grand Adventure (Turf Sprint); Hard Not to Like (Juvenile Fillies Turf); and Perfect Shirl (Filly and Mare Turf).
Northern Passion earned a fees-paid berth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf with her victory here in the Grade 3 Natalma, which is part of the Breeders’ Cup’s Win and You’re In program.
Spirited Miss is the third also eligible for the Juvenile Fillies Turf but five horses in the main body of the race, including Northern Passion, have the Juvenile Fillies as their first preference.
Sky High Lady is the fourth also eligible on the Juvenile Fillies list but two horses in the main body and one of the other alsos are first preference for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Prospective made the field for the Juvenile
Excaper, who is trained by Ian Black, is listed as the first also eligible for the Juvenile Turf with one horse in the main body of the race having the Juvenile as first preference.
Perfect Shirl, trained by Roger Attfield, is the first also for the Filly and Mare Turf but three horses in the main body of the race are first preference for the Ladies’ Classic.
Hard Not to Like, conditioned by Gail Cox, and Grand Adventure, trained by Mark Frostad, made the starting lineups for their prospective races.
In addition to Northern Passion, Woodbine’s Win and You’re In races produced three other Breeders’ Cup starters as Turallure is heading from the Woodbine Mile to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Regally Ready from the Nearctic to the Turf Sprint, and Finale from the Summer Stakes to the Juvenile Turf.
Frostad running maiden in stakes
Mark Frostad has won the Princess Elizabeth Stakes with Dancethruthedawn in 2000 and Catch the Thrill in 2006. He will be looking for a hat trick when he sends out the maiden Irish Mission for Saturday’s renewal of the 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.
A $375,000 yearling purchase at Saratoga last summer, Irish Mission has displayed steady improvement through her three starts and is coming off a fourth-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile race, her first around two turns.
“She’s a long-geared filly,” said Frostad, who conditions Irish Mission for Robert S. Evans.
“She was closing when she was fourth the other day, and she worked really good last Saturday. “I think she’ll run well.”
Irish Mission had regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons when she drilled six furlongs in 1:12.60 here last Saturday.
Those questioning the presence of a maiden in the Princess Elizabeth need not look far for a precedent as both Grand Style and Roan Inish, the two most recent winners of the stakes, were scoring for the first time.
Other maidens who graduated in the Princess Elizabeth during this decade were Mrs. Began in 2007, Victorious Ami in 2004, and Kabeeb in 2002.
Simon opts for Ontario Fashion
Atlantic Hurricane, a 4-year-old trained by Stuart Simon, was among the nominees for the River Memories but will run instead in Sunday’s $150,000 Ontario Fashion, a six-furlong Polytrack race for fillies and mares.
“The turf is going to be soft, for sure, so we’re going in the sprint,” said Simon.
“She worked really good on Polytrack the other day,” added the trainer, with reference to Atlantic Hurricane’s five-furlong breeze in a bullet 1:00 here last Friday.
Claimed from a winning effort for $40,000 this spring, Atlantic Hurricane went on to run her streak to three on turf and then became a Grade 3 stakes winner in the Seaway over seven furlongs of Polytrack.
In her last start, which came in the off-the-turf Avowal at seven furlongs, Atlantic Hurricane dueled through the opening half-mile but faltered to be beaten 9 3/4 lengths as the third-place finisher.
“She was unlucky,” said Simon. “The track was really deep, and it just turned into a real closers racetrack.”
“I expect her to run really good.”
Indian Pond, a 3-year-old filly who won the off-the-turf Carotene over 1 1/8 miles here last time out, breezed five furlongs on the main track here Wednesday.
Trained by Casse for owner/breeder Eugene Melnyk, Indian Pond also was nominated to the River Memories but will not be participating.
“We’re going to look at the Maple Leaf,” said Casse, with reference to the $175,000 filly and mare stakes at 1 1/4 miles on the main track here Nov. 6.
Early post time on Saturday
Saturday’s card will have an early post time of 12:30 p.m. and will go with nine races rather than the usual 10, with post time for the finale set for 4:28 p.m.
The changes have been made to accommodate Woodbine’s 12-race Breeders’ Crown card which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.
* Jim Mazur will be on hand here Saturday for a Breeders’ Cup seminar beginning at 11 a.m. on the third floor of the grandstand.
Attendees will receive a free copy of Mazur’s “Breeders’ Cup: The Crushing Zone”.