04/13/2011 2:17PM

Woodbine: Biofuel works toward 2011 debut

Michael Burns
Biofuel, the 2010 Canadian Horse of the Year, could return in the Grade 3 Whimsical.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Biofuel, who was Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old filly of 2010, had her first major exercise of the season here Monday.

Working on the dirt training track, Biofuel went in 59.40 seconds breezing and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80.

“She’s come to hand very, very quickly,” said Reade Baker, who trains the homebred Biofuel for Brereton C. Jones.

“She did the same thing last year. She gets going in leaps and bounds, once she gets there.”

Biofuel is nominated to next Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Whimsical, and while Baker’s original inclination was to skip that six-furlong race, he was re-evaluating his position following Wednesday’s breeze.

“I’ll work her again next Tuesday, and then I’ll make my decision,” Baker said.

Biofuel’s last start was her victory in the Grade 3 Selene here Sept. 26. The Kentucky-bred wintered with Baker at Palm Meadows, and her only recorded workout was a three-furlong breeze in 37.60 on March 28.

Artic Fern working toward comeback

Artic Fern, sidelined last June when heading into the Queen’s Plate as one of the leading contenders, is on the comeback trail here at Woodbine.

On Wednesday, Artic Fern had his first local breeze of the season as he went four furlongs over the training track.

With regular rider David Clark in the irons, Artic Fern was clocked in 48.40 while going in company with maiden 3-year-old filly stablemate Dixie Belle under jockey Jim McAleney.

Artic Fern was caught galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.60 and pulled up six furlongs in 1:16.80.

“He came back and cooled out well,” said Mike Keogh, who trains Artic Fern for owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz.

Artic Fern had finished second in his only start as a 2-year-old and then rattled off three straight victories here last spring.

After winning twice at 1 1/16 miles, with one score coming over older rivals, Artic Fern seemed set for a serious run at the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate only to emerge from his final workout in less than ideal order.

“He lit up when we did a scintigraphy on him, but we never did find a fracture,” Keogh said. “We got him back jogging here in November, before we shipped out to South Carolina.”

Artic Fern was galloping at the Schickedanz spread there in December and recorded his first of five breezes there in mid-February, with the latest on March 15.

“I would have breezed him sooner up here, but he tied up when he got up here,” said Keogh, who soon will be looking for a suitable spot for Artic Fern’s return.

Byrne gets first solo stakes win as owner

Bloodstock agent Warren Byrne had his first stakes winner as a sole owner last weekend, when Portside captured the $150,000 Fury.

Making her first start for Byrne and trainer Barbara Minshall in the six-furlong Fury, Portside rallied from last place in the field of six 3-year-old fillies to prevail by a neck under jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson.

Portside, a Florida-bred by Congrats out of the Time to Explode mare Port Isabel, had been purchased privately by Byrne following her close second-place finish in the mile and 70-yard Out Ruled at Aqueduct on March 13.

Gary Contessa had trained Portside, who was an $87,000 purchase as a 2-year-old in Ocala.

“I’m always looking for nice horses,” said Byrne, 29, who is the son of prominent local owner/breeder Michael Byrne. “Her pedigree attracted me. Her dam is a half-sister to the dam of Bernardini.”

“I have pretty close relationship with Gary Contessa and spoke to him about her after she was third this winter in the Busher.”

Byrne, in keeping with his role as a bloodstock agent and as the founder of Rush Racing, a syndicate whose motto is “Fractional ownership in fast horses,” marketed Portside to several potential clients.

“They didn’t like her enough to buy her,” said Byrne, who spent five years as a bloodstock agent in California before returning to Ontario last year to develop the Rush Racing venture. “I was confident enough in her that I decided to do it myself.”

Both Byrne and Minshall have penciled in the $150,000 La Lorgnette, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, for Portside’s next engagement.

In the meantime, Byrne could find himself back in the stakes winner’s circle here Saturday as the representative for Robert Teel, co-owner of Canadian champion 2-year-old male Madman Diaries.

Madman Diaries, a Florida-bred trained by Wesley Ward, will be making his local seasonal bow in the $150,000 Woodstock, an open six-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

Ward also bred Madman Diaries and was his sole owner until Byrne brokered the purchase of a part-interest on Teel’s behalf after the gelding won the Victoria here on June 19.

Teel, based in San Diego, is not expected to be on hand for the Woodstock.

Da Silva gets three-day ban for punching Contreras

Eurico Rosa da Silva will be serving a three-day suspension, Friday through Sunday, and has been fined $1,000 as the result of an incident following last Saturday’s Star Shoot.

The stewards ruled that Da Silva, aboard Miss Inclined, had reached over and punched Luis Contreras, who was riding Caribbean Lady, as the fillies were galloping out.

Miss Inclined had finished third after being blocked twice in upper stretch, and Caribbean Lady ended 1 1/2 lengths behind her as the fourth-place finisher in the field of six.

Apprentices set to make 2011 debuts

Apprentice jockeys Betty Jo Williams and Cassandra Garcea will be making their 2011 debuts with one mount apiece on Friday’s program.

Williams, who recorded 30 winners at Fort Erie and another six at Woodbine last year, has the mount on Sir Heart Throb for trainer Nathan Squires in the fourth race.

Garcea, who began her career late last October and rode her fourth winner on the penultimate day of the Woodbine meeting, has the call on Montrose Avenue for trainer Nick Gonzalez in the fifth race.

Williams, whose apprentice allowance will run through Sept. 21, is planning on doing most of her riding here this year and has a new agent in Tony Esposito, who also books mounts for Contreras.

Garcea retains the services of agent Don Parente, who also represents Da Silva. The duration of her apprentice allowance will not be determined until she has ridden her fifth winner.