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Woodbine: Atlantic Hurricane out to defend title in Bessarabian Stakes
By Ron Gierkink
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Atlantic Hurricane, the reigning Canadian champion female sprinter, shoots to win the Grade 3 Bessarabian Stakes at Woodbine for the second straight year on Saturday.
Atlantic Hurricane capped her brilliant 2011 campaign with a five-length score in the $150,000 Bessarabian, for which she got a career-high 97 Beyer Speed Figure.
Atlantic Hurricane had just a single win from five starts this year before she captured the Grade 3 Ontario Fashion Stakes for the second year in a row Nov. 4.
“She’s had so much bad luck,” trainer Stu Simon said. “She got sick this spring. She kept drawing inside. She’s never been outside of the 4-hole in six starts this year. We always had faith in her, but you wonder when a mare gets beat a few times and has some bad luck if they’re gonna come with their ace again, but she came with it.”
Simon was particularly frustrated with Atlantic Hurricane’s sixth behind the mighty Groupie Doll in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters. “She got beat two and a quarter lengths for second money,” Simon recalled. “If she had any kind of post position that would have led to a [good] trip, she’s easily second there to Groupie Doll.”
Atlantic Hurricane, who drew post 3 in the 11-horse field, will have Luis Contreras aboard.
Roxy Gap, the 124-pound highweight, is the leading contender for this year’s Sovereign Award as champion female sprinter. She won three graded stakes during the first half of the meet, which included a victory over Atlantic Hurricane in the Grade 3 Royal North on the grass. She was a wide-closing third under Patrick Husbands in the six-furlong Ontario Fashion.
Roxy Gap will have to spot her rivals as much as nine pounds in the seven-furlong Bessarabian, much to the dismay of trainer Mark Casse.
“She had to give Atlantic Hurricane eight pounds last time,” Casse noted. “Patrick says she struggles a little with more weight, that she doesn’t have [her usual] acceleration. It’s been a long year, but she’s hung in there pretty well. Seven-eighths is her distance.”
Magic Broomstick took both of her races in stakes this year in the fall, the seven-furlong Avowal on the grass and the mile and 70-yard River Memories on the Polytrack. She is one of two Malcolm Pierce-trained Sam-Son Farm runners in the lineup, along with Forest Uproar.
Stars to Shine was supplemented for $3,000 by trainer Mark Frostad. She notched two Polytrack stakes wins during the summer, the Trillium and the Grade 3 Ontario Matron, but trailed the field most recently in the 10-furlong Maple Leaf Stakes.
Moment of Majesty exits a fourth-place finish in the Maple Leaf, which came after back-to-back sevenths on turf in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor and the Grade 2 Canadian. She won her first stakes going seven furlongs on the grass in the restricted Zadracarata in June. Silent Serenity is stepping up off a front-running score over 3-year-old fillies in the Ruling Angel Stakes.
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