04/01/2011 11:51AM

Woodbine: Bear horses return from hibernation


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – After hibernating all winter, the bears are back at Woodbine. Two of them have surfaced in Sunday’s co-featured second race, the Reade Baker-trained entry of Bear Chocolated and Bear No Joke. The duo should be favored in the five-furlong allowance for 3-year-olds. Both are owned by the Bear Stables of Danny Dion, who frequently uses his nickname “Bear” in the naming of his horses.

Bear Chocolated won a tough maiden special at first asking in August, edging out entrymate Rockin Heat, who subsequently finished second in a pair of Grade 3 stakes, the Summer and Grey. Bear Chocolated made one other start at 2, which was a runner-up placing in a six-furlong allowance Nov. 20. He spent the early portion of the winter at Palm Meadows in Florida, where he worked five-eighths from the gate in 1:01.40 Jan. 30.

“When we took him to Florida, he didn’t seem to tolerate the heat very well, so I shipped him back here in February,” said Baker. “He’s doing super.”

Bear No Joke was a prominent second when he debuted in September. He graduated from just off the pace in a five-furlong maiden special in October, receiving a 76 Beyer Figure, the same number that Bear Chocolated got in his last outing.

Baker said Bear No Joke wintered in Ontario.

“He’s been training good,” said Baker. “I don’t think he’s as good as Bear Chocolated, though. Going to Florida, Bear Chocolated has a little more foundation.”

Emma Wilson retains the mount on Bear Chocolated, and Luis Contreras will ride Bear No Joke.

Spit Spat Speight has made all six of his starts in turf sprints in the United States. He raced three times at the recently concluded Fair Grounds meet, which included a fourth and a fifth in a pair of optional claimers. He led throughout a recent $25,000 conditioned claimer and earned a career high 78 Beyer.

Jesse Campbell, a newcomer to the local scene, will ride Spit Spat Speight for Run For The Roses Stable and trainer Jeff Thornbury.

Zipco is making his first start as a gelding. Despite running greenly, he won his only outing at 2 against $40,000 maidens, closing from mid-pack to prevail in a slow six-furlong clocking of 1:13.28.

Captain Chris has been idle since he toppled $25,000 claimers with a wide bid Nov. 24. He won his maiden at Fort Erie.

Jadran is also making his season debut. He ran sixth in an allowance after ending up a close third behind Captain Chris Nov. 24.