11/18/2011 12:58PM

Woodbine: Bessarabian winner can lay claim to Sovereign as champion female sprinter

Michael Burns
Ariana D, winning the off-the-turf Avowal Stakes on Oct. 1 at Woodbine, will try to repeat her 2010 victory in the Bessarabian on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — The Sovereign Award for the champion female sprinter will be up for grabs Sunday at Woodbine, when contenders Ariana D, Atlantic Hurricane, and Embur’s Song clash over seven furlongs in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bessarabian Stakes.

Ariana D captured last year’s Bessarabian with a powerful wide rally from 12th. She has just one victory to her credit this year – in the seven-furlong Avowal Stakes on Oct. 1 – to go along with five seconds. Perhaps her best performance was a wide-closing second in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters behind Musical Romance, who subsequently took the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Most recently in the six-furlong Ontario Fashion Stakes, Ariana D rallied belatedly for third behind Atlantic Hurricane and Waccamaw. Trainer Laurie Silvera said a moderate pace worked against her then.

“She needs a lively pace to have a shot going six furlongs, and it was anything but,” Silvera said. “The [fractions] were about the same as the maiden 2-year-old race on the same day. Hopefully, this will be a well-contested race, with the same result as last year.”

The speedy Atlantic Hurricane should secure the Sovereign Award if she were to win the Bessarabian, which would be her third in a stakes and her second in graded company this year.

Atlantic Hurricane was claimed for a bargain $40,000 in June by trainer Stuart Simon, who sent her out to win two optional claimers in July. She upset the heavily-favored Embur’s Song in the Grade 3 Seaway Stakes over seven furlongs in early September, but was a well-beaten third after getting softened up in a speed duel in the Avowal.

Simon said everything worked against Atlantic Hurricane in the Avowal, which was taken off the turf.

“The track was really deep that day, and everybody was closing,” Simon recalled. “She never relaxed at all.”

Atlantic Hurricane rebounded in the Oct. 30 Ontario Fashion, in which she tracked the front-running Waccamaw throughout, before mowing her down in deep stretch to score by a half-length.

“It worked out good last time,” said Simon. “It was a new dimension to her tactics. She’s doing well. She breezed really good the other day. I think she’s ready to go.”

Embur’s Song, one of three Todd Pletcher-trained entrants, raced here three times this year. She found the mark in two Grade 3 stakes, the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie, and the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Matron.

Embur’s Song has the inside track on the Sovereign for champion older female. She would probably need to win the Bessarabian in order to be crowned champion female sprinter.

Pletcher also entered Keeneland allowance winners Zermatt and Happy Week, who was supplemented for $3,000.

Mike Doyle, who trained Bessarabian, will saddle longshots Amiable Grace and Dance to the Moon.