06/06/2011 11:49AM

Woodbine: Baganara primed for grass debut

Michael Burns
Isabella Bay, with Chantal Sutherland riding, wins the South Ocean.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Baganara bypassed this past Sunday’s Woodbine Oaks in favor of Wednesday’s fourth race, an Ontario-sired allowance for nonwinners of three, which is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Baganara made quite a splash when she debuted in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special in November. She rallied strongly in that restricted event to win by four lengths in 1:47.08, a time that earned her a Beyer Speed Figure of 53.

When she reappeared in the Dec. 4 Ontario Lassie Stakes, Baganara was dismissed at 15-1, but she took her game to another level and finished second to the heavily favored Inglorious.

Following a winter layoff, Baganara was favored in a 1 1/16-mile allowance May 13. After racing very wide most of the way, she prevailed with determination in a slow clocking of 1:47.47.

Regular rider Slade Callaghan, the husband of owner/trainer Kelly Callaghan, said Baganara wasn’t cranked up for her comeback.

“We knew she was short going into the race,” Callaghan explained. “She was probably a work or two short. She got hung wide the whole way and was really gutsy down the lane. I thought she ran really well. She’s had a nice time between races now, so I hope she comes up with a big effort.”

Callaghan predicted that Baganara will take a shine to unfamiliar footing.

“She’s never been on the turf, other than in the paddock, but I think she’ll love it,” said Callaghan. “The way she moves, Kelly thinks that she’ll like it a lot. She never really puts out in the morning, but she runs hard in the afternoon, and I find a lot of those kind of horses excel on the turf.”

Isabella Bay is taking a good grass pedigree into her first start on that surface. She is from the first crop of millionaire Strut the Stage, a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner on the turf.

Isabella Bay graduated fourth time out last September, and went on to capture the Nov. 10 South Ocean, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies. She was a fading sixth in an allowance sprint in her season debut May 1.

Whiskey Romance and Winning Charm finished second and third, respectively, in a May 18 allowance route on Polytrack.

Whiskey Romance has a poor grass record, while Winning Charm has a second and a fourth from two turf attempts.