09/07/2011 1:49PM

Woodbine: Attfield fully armed for Canadian

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Barbara D. Livingston
Miss Keller is likeley headed for a repeat bid in the Canadian.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Roger Attfield, who won last year’s $300,000 Canadian with Miss Keller, has a half-dozen nominees for this year’s running of the Grade 2 turf stakes for fillies and mares.

And while Attfield is not yet certain exactly of how many will represent the barn in the Canadian, which will be a supporting feature on the Sept. 18 Woodbine Mile card, he has earmarked Miss Keller and Mekong Melody as definite candidates.

Mekong Melody continued her preparations for the Canadian here Wednesday morning with a five-furlong breeze in 59.80 seconds on the main track.

Assistant trainer Suzanne Lorimer was aboard Mekong Melody as she went in company with stablemate Oregon Lady, who had exercise rider Darren Fortune in the irons and is a possibility for the Canadian.

“They both worked very well,” said Attfield. “I was happy with it.”

Mekong Melody, an Irish-bred 6-year-old, has been an unlucky fourth-place finisher in each of her last two starts on Saratoga’s turf course, first in the Grade 1 Diana at 1 1/8 miles and then in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at 1 1/16 miles.

Oregon Lady, an Irish-bred 4-year-old, has been off since suffering an eye injury during her eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Modesty at Arlington Park on July 9

Perfect Shirl, Lady Shakespeare and Honimiere are Attfield’s other Canadian nominees.

Attfield switched over to the training track turf course later Wednesday morning to breeze Musketier in preparation for the Grade 1, $500,000 Northern Dancer Stakes.

The Northern Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, also will be part of the blockbuster card on Woodbine Mile Day.

Lorimer was in the saddle as Musketier breezed six furlongs in 1:15.20 while going in company with stablemate Mobilizer, a 4-year-old Canadian-bred who coming off a sharp victory under second-level allowance terms.

“Everything held good,” said Attfield. “I liked the way they did it.”

Casse happy with breeze

Seaside Retreat, who also is eyeing the Northern Dancer, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 on the main track under exercise rider Jason Hoyte.

“It was a super, super breeze,” said Mark Casse, who trains the 8-year-old Seaside Retreat for owner Will Farish Jr. “I was extremely pleased with him.”

Seaside Retreat, who was beaten a half-length when third in the 2008 Northern Dancer, returned from a three-year absence this summer and finished second here running for the $80,000 price in a second-level allowance/optional claiming race on Aug. 20.

Two work for Natalma start

Northern Passion and Quality Lass, both trained by Casse and heading the Natalma Stakes here Sept. 17, also breezed five furlongs on the main track.

Exercise rider Melanie Giddings was aboard Northern Passion, who was clocked in 1:01.20. Hoyt did the honors on Quality Lass, who finished in 1:01.40.

The Grade 3 Natalma, a one-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies, offers a purse of $200,000 and shares top billing on the Sept. 17 program with the Grade 3 Summer, also at one mile on turf but worth $250,000.

The Natalma and the Summer both are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.

Pender Harbour goes easily

Pender Harbour worked five furlongs on the main track here Wednesday in preparation for his next start, which will come either here in the Ontario Derby or in the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park.

“It was a nice, easy breeze,” said trainer Mike DePaulo, who gave regular rider Luis Contreras a leg up and watched Pender Harbour finish in 1:01.40 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.80.

“It was a typical work for him. He started slow, and finished good.”

Pender Harbour is coming off back-to-back wins in Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales over 1 3/16 miles on dirt and Woodbine’s Breeders’ over 1 1/2 miles of turf.

Both the Pennsylvania Derby and the Ontario Derby are 1 1/8-mile races to be run on Sept. 24, with the Pennsylvania Derby offering Grade 2 status and a purse of $1 million, while the Ontario Derby is a listed stakes worth $150,000.

Bubbles to the Top heads La Prevoyante

Bubbles to the Top, who races in the colors of Overheath Stable, is scheduled to represent the DePaulo barn here in Saturday’s $125,000 La Prevoyante.

The La Prevoyante, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, attracted a field headed by Weekend Romance, winner of the restricted Passing Mood over seven furlongs on turf in her last start.

Bubbles to the Top made four of her five appearances last year in stakes, finishing second in the Victorian Queen and third in the Muskoka, but didn’t find the range until her ninth career outing on June 22.

Since winning that six-furlong Ontario-sired maiden turf race, Bubbles to the Top has been untouchable as she rolled through her first two restricted conditions while racing at 6 1/2 furlongs and then seven furlongs on the main track.

“I ran her a mile and a sixteenth, off a five-eighths race, and it knocked her out,” said DePaulo, with reference to the filly’s first two starts this year. “I gave her some time to recover. Now, she’s on a roll.”

Bubbles to the Top had run well in her lone try around two turns last season, finishing two lengths behind the winner as the fourth-place finisher in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth for Canadian-breds.

“A mile on grass should be no problem,” said DePaulo.

Sinister Quill done for the year

Sinister Quill, who was beaten a half-length as the runner-up in the Passing Mood and was expected to be a major player in the La Prevoyante, will not see action again this season.

“Her one ankle’s been acting up a little bit,” said Danny Vella, who is the trainer and a part-owner of Sinister Quill.

“It’s nothing serious, but she’s done for the year. We feel, at this time, that to keep her in training would jeopardize her career.”

A nose away from being undefeated in three starts here last year, Sinister Quill won her second restricted allowance condition in her seasonal debut.

Sinister Quill then finished second in the seven-furlong Lady Angela at seven furlongs and a close third when facing males over six furlongs of turf in the Bold Ruckus.

Trying two turns for the first time after the Passing Mood, Sinister Quill was off the board for the first time as the fifth-place finisher.

◗ Stunning Stag, who is based here with trainer Sid Attard, is scheduled to be in Pennsylvania on Friday evening for the $250,000 Presque Isle Downs Mile. Regular rider Gerry Olguin retains the mount on Stunning Stag, an Ontario-bred 7-year-old gelding who races for Attard’s wife, Janice Attard.