08/20/2012 1:34PM

Woodbine: Attfield's patience with Forte dei Marmi is rewarded in Sky Classic

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Michael Burns
Forte dei Marmi wins the Grade 2, $264,000 Sky Classic at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Roger Attfield took his time with Forte dei Marmi after the 6-year-old gelding finished sixth when traveling to Virginia for the 1 3/16-mile Colonial Turf Cup on June 16. On Sunday, Attfield’s patience paid major dividends as Forte dei Marmi rallied to score by three-quarters of a length here in the Grade 2, $264,000 Sky Classic over 1 1/4 miles on the turf course.

“It all worked out nicely,” Attfield said after watching Forte dei Marmi record the biggest win of his career with Alex Solis aboard for the first time. “I thought I had him back the way I had him in the spring. He ran his last couple of races on really brick-hard grass, and he didn’t have a good experience in Virginia, so I freshened him up.”

The Grade 1, $500,000 Northern Dancer at 1 1/2 miles here Sept. 16 is the next open turf stakes here for older males, and Attfield thinks the distance is within Forte dei Marmi’s scope. But the owners of Forte dei Marmi have Musketier for that race, so Forte dei Marmi will run next in a spot to be determined, Attfield said.

Musketier, a 1 1/2-mile turf specialist, will be looking to become a Grade 1 winner at age 10 in the Northern Dancer.

Stormy Lord becomes millionaire

Stormy Lord, sent off at 21-1 in the Sky Classic, took charge immediately and came up just short to finish second. In the process, Stormy Lord picked up $60,000 to boost his career bankroll to $1,024,315.

“He did it the hard way,” said Ian Black, who trains the 5-year-old gelding for breeder David Willmot and partners. “He never won a really big race.”

Stormy Lord’s largest payday came in the $250,000 PTHA President’s Cup over 1 1/8 miles of turf at Parx Racing last September. His five stakes wins here are headed by the Grade 2 Connaught Cup, a seven-furlong turf race in May 2011.

Slow start costly for Scalo

Scalo, the Group 1-winning German shipper who was the 7-5 favorite for the Sky Classic, was beaten a length as the third-place finisher after rallying up the inside under rider Umberto Rispoli.

“He didn’t break well and he didn’t have the position we wanted him to have,” said Andreas Woehler, trainer of the 5-year-old Scalo. “A mile and a quarter is on the short side for him. He was just getting going when the race was over. If everything’s right, we’ll run him again in the Northern Dancer. A mile and a half suits him better.”

Moment of Majesty eyes Canadian

Moment of Majesty always showed ability, but had been shy in the win column with a record of 2-6-3 from 15 starts heading into her current campaign. But Moment of Majesty has blossomed at age 5 and recorded her second stakes victory in her last three starts in Sunday’s $100,000 Belle Mahone at 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack.

“She had some little issues as a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, but it’s like she’s matured out of them,” trainer and part-owner Sue Leslie said. “She’s come into her own.”

Moment of Majesty won the restricted Zadracarta Stakes over seven furlongs of turf here July 8 and followed up with a second-place finish behind Marketing Mix in the Grade 3 Dance Smartly over 1 1/8 miles of grass.

Moment of Majesty had run well on Polytrack, most notably when finishing a close second in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks. But there was some question how she would handle the surface heading into the Belle Mahone because she had finished fifth and last the last time she had run on the main track, which came in an optional-claiming race in May.

“I was wondering if she could run at the same level,” Leslie said. “She’s really shown an affinity for turf. But she trains well on Poly, and her last two works were on Poly. I was confident she’d be able to handle it.”

Still, Leslie had taken long look at the 1 1/16-mile turf allowance prep for the Sept. 16 Canadian Stakes, which is scheduled for Saturday.

“The Canadian prep didn’t go last year, so I ran her here,” Leslie said.

Now, the Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $300,000, is Moment of Majesty’s next target.

“It would be a logical spot,” Leslie said. “She needs time between races.”

Moonlit Beauty leads all the way

Trainer John LeBlanc was hoping that Moonlit Beauty would have some speed to stalk in last Saturday’s Victoriana Stakes. But when Moonlit Beauty broke well, jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva took her straight to the lead and never looked back, as she held on for a head score in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares.

“I was surprised the other speed didn’t go,” LeBlanc said. “I left it up to Eurico, depending on how she broke and where everybody else was. My big concern was a clean break; she’s had problems with that before.”

A homebred 6-year-old owned by Bill Gierkink, Moonlit Beauty was winning her third stakes race in the Victoriana and vaulted past the $500,000 earnings mark via a career record of 8-4-1 from 31 starts.

And while LeBlanc will be keeping an eye open for an interim opportunity, he would not be dismayed if he had to train her up to the Sept. 30 Classy ’n Smart here Sept. 30.

Moonlit Beauty was making her first start in more than six weeks when she finished second in last year’s $125,000 Classy ’n Smart, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race for fillies and mares.

Bug’s Boy works toward Halton

Bug’s Boy has been winless in eight starts since scoring at 74-1 in last year’s Halton Stakes, and worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 on the training track turf course here Sunday with an eye toward this year’s $125,000 renewal of that yearling sales stakes here Sept. 3.

“I was very happy with him,” LeBlanc said. “He didn’t start off strong, but he quickened nice – which he always does in his best works – and galloped out well.”

Bug’s Boy, a 9-year-old gelding who is owned by LeBlanc’s wife, Maggie, and son Douglas, has ground out $285,392 in earnings and seeks his fifth win while making his 51st career start in the Halton.

Play the King tune-ups

Riding the River, who will be looking for his third straight Grade 2 turf stakes win in Sunday’s Play the King, breezed four furlongs in 48.20 seconds on the main track here Sunday with regular rider Todd Kabel in the irons.

The Play the King, at seven furlongs on the turf, is worth $200,000.

Smokey Fire and Big Band Sound both breezed five furlongs on the main track, while Artic Fern, Grand Adventure, Stormy Rush, and Jaguar Paw prepped on the training turf course in their major Play the King tune-ups.

Regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva guided Smokey Fire to a 1:00.20 clocking, and exercise rider Schemlin Montoute did the honors as Big Band Sound was timed in 1:00.

Grand Adventure breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 under Patrick Husbands, while Artic Fern traveled the same distance in 1:01.40 under new rider Justin Stein.

Stormy Rush breezed four furlongs in 46.40 with exercise rider Darren Fortune aboard, and Jaguar Paw covered the same distance in 47.60 under Steven Bahen.