04/25/2013 2:30PM

Woodbine: Artic Fern, Say No More take shots in Cartier Stakes

Michael Burns
Artic Fern is going shorter than his preferred distance in the Cartier.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Artic Fern has been a source of both joy and frustration for his trainer, Mike Keogh, showing an ability to compete with the best but having “off” days on a number of occasions.

On Saturday, Keogh will be hoping that the “A” version of Artic Fern shows up when he takes on six rivals in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier for 4-year-olds and up.

“I know one thing – he’s definitely not a fall horse,” said Keogh, who watched Artic Fern finish up his 2011 and 2012 campaigns here on down notes. “He’s a hard horse to train, but I think this was one of his best winters.”

Keogh spends his off-season with his stock in Aiken, S.C., and Artic Fern checked back into Woodbine along with the balance of his traveling stablemates three weeks ago.

Artic Fern, a homebred 6-year-old gelding by Langfuhr who races for Gus Schickedanz, had been sidelined by injury on his way to the 2010 Queen’s Plate and since has competed mainly in sprints while effective on both Polytrack and turf over the past two seasons.

“Really, I didn’t have any options, but I believe he fits at this level,” Keogh said of his decision to start off Artic Fern’s season in the $150,000 Jacques Cartier. “I don’t think the three-quarters is a problem, but a little bit farther might be preferable. Most of the Langfuhrs like seven-eighths, just like him.”

Say No More, a 5-year-old gelding that Keogh conditions for Schickedanz and Don Howard, also will make his seasonal bow in the Jacques Cartier.

Also by Langfuhr, the homebred Say No More has placed here in stakes on both Polytrack and turf, but his best career effort Beyer Speed Figure-wise came when he flirted with the track record in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race last summer on Fort Erie’s dirt surface.

“He’s very good right now,” Keogh said. “He ran in one of the Aiken trials down there, won it, and beat Mobil Unit’s track record by a full second.”

Say No More’s success on Aiken’s dirt course came April 6, when he won a 4 1/2-furlong dash in 52.40 while leaving stablemate Mobil Unit in third place.

“I think I’m going to have to ship him out this year and run him on dirt,” Keogh said.

Say No More and Artic Fern both had younger sisters in action here opening weekend, with mixed results.

Nadurra, a full sister to Say No More, was a 2 1/4-length winner of a five-furlong first-level allowance in the second race of the meeting.

On Sunday, Sure Would finished fourth in a five-furlong maiden race, beaten 7 1/4 lengths.

Nadurra had started four times at 2, winning her maiden at seven furlongs.

“I honestly didn’t think she could win Saturday, out of the one hole,” Keogh said. “She’s a nice filly. How far she wants to go, I don’t know.”

Nadurra is nominated to the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies here May 4.

“The Fury may be a little bit quick back,” Keogh said.

Sure Wood, a three-quarter-sister to Artic Fern, ran three times as a 2-year-old, with her best effort a second-place finish behind subsequent multiple stakes winner Spring Venture in a seven-furlong maiden race on the turf.

“She’s been a little disappointing; she hasn’t been running to her works,” Keogh said. “I’m not sure she’s a Polytrack filly.

“But her rider, Chris Griffith, said he couldn’t pull her up the other day – he thinks she wants to go long.

“We may try that, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to the grass with her.”

Distracting back with Carroll

It is not readily apparent, but Distracting, who will be making her first local start here in Sunday’s six-furlong Whimsical Stakes, is no stranger to Woodbine.

“I had her here as a 2-year-old,” said Josie Carroll, who trains Distracting for Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm and Edward McGhee. “I had her mother, Teeming, too.”

Distracting, 4, had breezed seven times and was up to five furlongs in mid-October when she was shipped to Santa Anita and trainer Bob Baffert.

Debuting in California on June 23, the Kentucky-homebred Distracting put together back-to-back sprint wins at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita and finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Paseana Stakes.

Distracting recorded her third career win in a second-level allowance sprint at Santa Anita on Feb. 21, but then finished sixth in the Grade 3 Las Flores over the same distance March 10.

Last week, Distracting was shipped to Carroll at Keeneland and breezed five furlongs there Monday in 1.00.20 before returning to Toronto.

“Bob sent her to me in great order,” Carroll said. “The six furlongs should suit her; she’s got enough speed.”

Patrick Husbands has the mount on Distracting for the Grade 3, $150,000 Whimsical, which drew a field of nine fillies and mares.

Inglorious regrouping at home

Inglorious, who finished a well-beaten sixth and last in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack on April 19 at Keeneland, is back in Carroll’s barn at Woodbine.

“She had a bit of a rough trip,” Carroll said. “She’s regrouping.”

Inglorious, Canada’s champion 3-year-old filly after winning the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate in 2009, is winless in her last eight starts but has placed in two stakes on turf and two on Polytrack for owners Donna and Vern Dubinsky.

Strait of Dover, Pender Harbour training

Strait of Dover and Pender Harbour, the last two winners of the Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion 3-year-old male, are in training at Woodbine but well away from making their first starts.

Trained by Danny Vella, Strait of Dover came up with a suspensory-related issue while preparing for last year’s Breeders’ Stakes and was sent to the One More Time Niagara-region farm of trainer Donnie MacRae.

“He’s been back in, jogging, since March, and he’s galloping now,” Vella said. “He looks so much better than last year. He just looks fantastic.

“We’ll take our time with him. We think he could be a very serious horse. I think we could win a Grade 1 with him.”

Pender Harbour, the 2011 Sovereign winner in the 3-year-old male category, had a chip taken out of an ankle following his 2012 campaign.

After wintering at the nearby Woodland Farm owned by Gail Woods, Pender Harbour checked in to Woodbine just last week and was on the track for the first time April 18 and began jogging the following day.

“He’s doing great,” said Josie De Paulo, wife and assistant to Pender Harbour’s trainer, Mike De Paulo. “He looks like he’s been in here all along, but it’s still a couple of weeks before he even breezes.”