06/29/2012 1:48PM

Woodbine: Awesome Fire looking for better in Bison City


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Awesome Fire just missed in the June 3 Woodbine Oaks, coming up three-quarters of a length shy of the victorious Irish Mission as the third-place finisher in that 1 1/8-mile stakes.

On Sunday, Awesome Fire will be looking to improve on that result in the $250,000 Bison City, a 1 1/16-mile race that follows the Woodbine Oaks as the second leg of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

“She came out of it well,” said Martha Gonzalez, who is the wife and assistant to Awesome Fire’s trainer, Nick Gonzalez, and oversees the daily operation here at Woodbine. “I’m surprised it didn’t take more out of her. Those other horses had an edge on her, conditioning-wise.”

Irish Mission and runner-up Northern Passion, who subsequently finished second and third in the Queen’s Plate, had both come into the Woodbine Oaks with good form from south of the border. Dixie Strike, who ended fifth as the odds-on favorite, also had a winter campaign under her belt.

Awesome Fire, meanwhile, had been well beaten when debuting on dirt over seven furlongs at Gulfstream and then finished fourth here in the seven-furlong Fury five weeks before her Woodbine appearance.

Gonzalez does not believe that the cutback in distance for the Bison City will have any impact on Awesome Fire, who rallied from eighth place in the Woodbine Oaks.

“She’ll do whatever you want her to do,” said the trainer. “If there’s no speed, she’ll lay a little closer.”

Northern Passion, who edged Awesome Fire by a head for second money in the Woodbine Oaks, and Blue Heart, who tuned up that same day with a second-place finish in the Alywow over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf, also run in the Bison City.

Gonzalez, however, believes Awesome Fire can be up to the task.

“She’s doing really well,” said Gonzalez. “She was kind of a fussy eater, but she’s eating probably the best she’s ever eaten. I’ve worked my butt off to get her here. She’ll probably be as good as you can get her.”

Emma-Jayne Wilson, who rode Awesome Fire to her two wins here last year, regained the mount for the Woodbine Oaks and has the call for the Bison City.

Returnees for Dominion Day

Sunday’s $150,000 Dominion Day Handicap, at 1 1/4 miles on the main track, has attracted the shippers Stately Victor, Straight Story, and Newsdad.

All three have raced over the Polytrack surface here before.

Straight Story, trained in New Jersey by Alan Goldberg, won the Grade 3 Autumn Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here last fall, while Newsdad, part of Bill Mott’s string at Churchill Downs, finished third in last year’s Victoria Park Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Stately Victor, on the other hand, will be making his fourth appearance here, all for trainer Mike Maker, who is based at the Churchill Downs training center.

“He’ll like the Polytrack, the distance, and the purse isn’t too bad either,” said Maker of his decision to ship Stately Victor north for the Dominion Day.

Stately Victor, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, won the 1 1/8-mile Ontario Derby here in 2010 and returned last year to finish third in both the Grade 3 Dominion Day and the Autumn.

The Ontario Derby, in fact, still stands as Stately Victor’s last victory as he has failed to find the range in 13 subsequent outings.

In two starts this year, both under third-level allowance terms, Stately Victor was beaten a neck over 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland and a head over 1 1/16 miles at Arlington.

“He’s kind of a hard-luck horse,” said Maker. “In his first start at Keeneland he was kind of boxed in on the rail, and in his last start in Chicago he fell down leaving the gate, pulled his shoe off, ran with it half-on and half-off, and lost in a photo. He needs to win a race.”

Stately Victor will be ridden by the first time by Rosie Napravnik, who is based at Belmont.

Napravnik’s only four mounts here came on the weekend of Oct. 30-31, 2010, and included a victory in the River Memories with Fantasia.

Slim fields

The Bison City and Dominion Day attracted fields of just six, and Monday’s stakes, the $150,000 Achievement and Ontario Jockey Club, fared no better, with six named to each stakes.

Incredicat, cutting back to six furlongs after finishing second in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial here June 3, will square off with three-time restricted stakes winner Jenna’s Wabbit in the $150,000 Achievment for Ontario-bred 3-year-olds.

Fastestwhogetspaid, who shipped in from Illinois to finish a close third in the seven-furlong Queenston on May 5, returns off a victory in an Arlington starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Pool Play won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs last June 18, and will be making his first start since then in the Ontario Jockey Club, a seven-furlong overnight turf stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds and upward.

Arrow’s Conquest, Artic Fern, Bear’s Chill, Quick Code and Stunning Stag round out the field.

Inglorious flies in workout

Marketing Mix and Inglorious both worked five furlongs over the turf training here Friday morning in preparation for next Sunday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Inglorious, who was scheduled to track a stablemate but wound up being involved in what was almost an impromptu race with four other workers, was timed in 57.40 under exercise rider/Jockey Na Somsanith.

Clockers gave Inglorious a “breezing” designation for the workout, which was the fastest of 18 on the firm going with the dogs out.

“Quite strong,” said trainer Josie Carroll, who caught Inglorious galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.00.

Marketing Mix breezed in 58.40 seconds under jockey Alex Solis. Julien Leparoux is expected to be at Woodbine for his regular call in the Dance Smartly.

Kissable, who is a candidate for the Dance Smartly, breezed six furlongs on the turf in 1:12.60. Her company, the 4-year-old colt Good Better Best, was clocked in 1:12.80.

Purchased privately by Three Chimneys Racing LLC, the Irish-bred Kissable joined trainer Roger Attfield at Keeneland this spring and would be making her North American debut.