10/12/2012 1:29PM

Woodbine: Big Band Sound shortens up in Nearctic


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Big Band Sound will cut back to six furlongs Sunday at Woodbine in the $500,000 Nearctic, one of three excellent supporting stakes on the Canadian International card. As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, the winner of the Grade 1 Nearctic receives a fees-paid berth into the Grade 1 BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

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Big Band Sound ran second in each of his first four outings at the meet, all in stakes, including the Grade 2 King Edward over a mile. Following a summer layoff, he romped in the local prep for the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes, but then finished a dull sixth in the Mile, behind Wise Dan, Hunters Bay, and Cityscape. Wise Dan came right back to capture the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile.

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Trainer Danny Vella felt the competition was too salty for Big Band Sound in the $1 million Woodbine Mile.

“I think the first three are just better horses at a mile,” Vella said. “The winner could be the best horse looking through a bridle in North America right now. I was a little disappointed when [Big Band Sound] faded a little at the end. I thought he would run a little better than he did. If you look at his form, he’s run very few poor races, and you have to give him a pass every once in a while. I don’t think a mile is his best trip, either. We’re backing up. We freshened a little, and we know six to seven furlongs on the grass is probably his thing. He’s doing great right now.”

Vella said the condition of the ground shouldn’t matter much to Big Band Sound.

“I believe that he’ll handle any turf,” Vella explained. “He’s got that good turf foot.”

There are three Europeans in the lineup: As de Trebol, Fire Lily, and Night Carnation.

As de Trebol has run hot and cold on synthetic surfaces this year, in France and the UAE. The majority of his six turf wins took place in Spain.

Fire Lily captured a Group 3 fixture over soft ground in Ireland in August after finishing seventh in the Group 1 July Cup.

Night Carnation is adding Lasix after notching an allowance-caliber race over good-to-soft turf in her last outing in England.

Artic Fern was in good sprint form until the Woodbine Mile, in which he tired to trail the field after pressing a tepid early pace under Justin Stein.

“I think his last race is a complete throwout,” said trainer Mike Keogh. “I said to Justin not to fight with him, and to come from off of it, if you can. He just got dead rank with him, and then packed it in. He’s come back and worked very well since then.”

Keogh said he would prefer firm ground on Sunday. “When it gets a little on the softer side, it’s usually in favor of the Europeans,” Keogh explained.

Grand Adventure finished second in the 2010 Nearctic, and was fourth in the race last year before missing the board in the BC Turf Sprint. He checked in fifth in his only appearance this year Aug. 26, in the Grade 2 Play the King.

Bear Tough Tiger could lead the way off a front-running score in an open allowance at Presque Isle Downs. Like the Maryland-based Next Question, he was supplemented to the race for $10,000.