08/29/2012 1:09PM

Woodbine: Atlantic Hurricane targets Presque Isle Masters

Michael Burns
Atlantic Hurricane is expected to make her next start in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters on Sept. 8.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Atlantic Hurricane was nominated to Saturday’s Seaway Stakes, a seven-furlong race here for fillies and mares that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000. But Stu Simon, trainer and a part-owner of Atlantic Hurricane, has elected to bypass the Seaway and head to Pennsylvania for the Presque Isle Masters, a 6 1/2-furlong filly and mare stakes Sept. 8.

“The biggest thing in our decision was that she’s real good right now,” said Simon, who owns the 5-year-old Atlantic Hurricane in partnership with Brent and Russ McClellan and Carl Hollick. “It might be now or never to take a shot at these horses.”

Simon also notes that the Grade 2 ranking and $400,000 purse of the Presque Isle Masters are serious enticements.

“If she happened to pick up a good chunk of the purse in the Grade 2, it would enhance her value as a broodmare,” Simon said. “And we can always come back here after. There are still two or three starts for her.”

Atlantic Hurricane, claimed for $40,000 here in July 2011, recorded her first stakes win in last year’s Seaway and added the listed Ontario Fashion and Grade 3 Bessarabian to her portfolio en route to being voted Canada’s champion female sprinter.

In her last start, Atlantic Hurricane was beaten a half-length by Roxy Gap in the Royal North, a six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

Roxy Gap opts for Seaway

Roxy Gap, trained by Mark Casse, also was nominated to Presque Isle Masters but is going in the Seaway.

“We considered it for a little while, but we decided to stay here,” said Casse, who spent a day away from the racetrack Tuesday to celebrate the marriage of his son, Norman, to former jockey/exercise rider Melanie Giddings in Saratoga Springs.

Roxy Gap, who won six-furlong Whimsical and 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie on the main track here this spring for her owner and breeder, Eugene Melnyk, also is eligible for splits of $50,000 in Ontario-bred bonuses, which would bring the winner’s share to $120,000.

The Seaway attracted just 11 nominees, and three of those were part of a five-horse field in a third-level allowance/$80,000 optional claiming race at seven furlongs here last Friday.

That left the racing office scrambling to dredge up a five-horse field for the Seaway.

Completing the field for the Seaway will be the Todd Pletcher-trained shipper Zermatt and locally based Tu Endie Wei, Jenny’s So Great, and Gold Dust Lady.

Tu Endie Wei, trained by Reade Baker, and Jenny’s So Great, conditioned by Greg De Gannes, had been scheduled to race out of town, but jumped into the Seaway.

“I had no intention of running until I found out it was going to be a tiny field,” said Baker, who had been pointing Tu Endie Wei to the Presque Isle Masters.

Jenny’s So Great, supplemented at a cost of $3,000, had been slated to travel to Parx Racing for Monday’s $200,000 Turf Amazon, a five-furlong race for fillies and mares.

“I’d been concerned about the weather in Philadelphia and then found out this race was coming up light,” De Gannes said.

Busy holiday weekend for Casse

Pool Play, owned by Bill Farish Jr., will represent the Casse stable in Saturday’s Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington.

Miguel Mena, who was aboard Pool Play when the 7-year-old Ontario-bred became a Grade 1 winner in last year’s 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, has the call for the 1 1/8-mile Washington Park.

The Casse barn also should have stakes starters here Sunday and Monday, beginning with Locally Made in Sunday’s $125,000 Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

Monday will feature yearling sales stakes here, with the most lucrative prizes being the $200,000 Simcoe for 2-year-old colts and geldings and the $200,000 Muskoka for 2-year-old fillies, both at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Honorable Guest, Dynamic Sky, and Star Contender are Casse’s candidates for the Simcoe, with English Holiday on tap for the Muskoka.

Also on Labor Day, the Casse-trained Prospective should be seeking his fifth stakes victory of the season in the Grade 3, $350,000 Smarty Jones, a mile and 70-yard stakes for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing.

Woodbine-based rider Jermaine Bridgmohan, who piloted Prospective to victory in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown, regains the mount.

Calgary Cat injured, done for season

Calgary Cat, the promising Ontario-bred 2-year-old colt whom Casse trains for John Oxley, is out for the season.

“He was injured the other day, working on the turf,” Casse said.

Calgary Cat raced twice, finishing a troubled fifth in the six-furlong Colin and then capturing a maiden race at seven furlongs. The colt had breezed five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on the training track turf course here last Sunday.

Pender Harbour works for Elgin

Pender Harbour, Bear’s Chill, and Good Better Best all breezed here Wednesday morning in preparation for their $125,000 yearling sales stakes engagements.

Regular rider Luis Contreras was aboard Pender Harbour, who went four furlongs in 48.60 on the main track for trainer Mike DePaulo.

Pender Harbour, coming off a good fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Sky Classic over 1 1/4 miles of turf here Aug. 19, is eyeing the 1 1/16-mile Elgin, a Polytrack race for colts and geldings.

“We’re shortening him up, so we wanted to let him stretch his legs a little bit,” DePaulo said.

Bear’s Chill, trained by Sid Attard, had exercise rider Ruben Peralta in the irons and was clocked in 47.80 for his four furlongs on the main track, the best of 23 workers at the distance.

Claimed for $62,500 here Aug. 12, Bear’s Chill would be making his first start for Attard and owners Lou and Carlo Tucci in the six-furlong Kenora for 3-year-olds and up.

“I like him very much,” Attard said.

Bear’s Chill sold for $85,000 at the select sale here in 2009.

Good Better Best, with exercise rider Darren Fortune in the irons, worked on the turf training track and was clocked in 48.80.

“Everything went well,” said trainer Roger Attfield, who plans to enter Good Better Best in the Halton, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

Good Better Best, a homebred 4-year-old colt owned by Dick Bonnycastle’s Harlequin Ranches, was a $23,000 buyback at the 2009 select sale.

Attfield also sent out Spice Route to breeze four furlongs on the turf in 49.80.

Off since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer here in 2010, the 8-year-old gelding Spice Route returned to the Attfield barn this summer.

“He should be ready in about four weeks,” Attfield said.