08/16/2013 10:29AM

Woodbine: Up With the Birds back for Breeders’ Stakes

Michael Burns
Up With the Birds, most recently second in the Queen's Plate, is likely to be favored in Sunday's $500,000 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Up With the Birds endured a heartbreaking loss as the favorite in this year’s $1 million Queen’s Plate. He makes his first start since that prestigious stakes Sunday in the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, a 12-furlong test that encompasses one lap around Woodbine’s roomy turf course.

The 123rd running of the Breeder’s drew nine other Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, but it can probably be pared down to three other contenders: Pyrite Mountain, Global Express, and River Seven.

Up With the Birds was the only horse in the 10-furlong Plate to make up significant ground over a wet Polytrack, which aided speed. He wound up second, a half-length behind longshot Midnight Aria, who had everything his own way on an uncontested lead.

“I was disappointed that he didn’t win, but I was very proud of him,” said Malcolm Pierce, who trains Up With the Birds for Sam-Son Farms.

In his two grass starts, Up With the Birds won the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds, and was a charging second in the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland. Pierce said he has reason to believe that Up With the Birds, a son of Stormy Atlantic, will stay the Breeders’ trip.

“It’s unknown territory, but he got the mile and a quarter on the Poly,” said Pierce. “I know he likes two turns on the grass, because he almost got the money at Keeneland, and he did get the money at the Fair Grounds. I’m sure the mile and a half is a concern for everybody, because nobody’s run it.”

Trainer Mark Frostad won last year’s Breeders’ with the champion filly Irish Mission, who is entered against the boys in Sunday’s other stakes, the Grade 2 Sky Classic. In the Breeders’, he sends out Pyrite Mountain, who has been freshened since finishing a nonthreatening seventh in the July 7 Plate.

Frostad was uncertain about the longer distance, but he said the horse adores the grass, over which he finished a troubled fourth in an allowance at Gulfstream.

“I think he’s going to excel on the turf,” Frostad said, noting that Pyrite Mountain “had a brutal trip and closed like a demon” in his only turf start.

“He was very impressive in that race,” Frostad said. “We’ll see what happens. He’s been training very well.”

Frostad’s four Breeders’ victories still ranks him far behind Roger Attfield, who has a record eight wins in the race. Attfield will saddle the lightly raced Global Express, a son of Street Sense who has improved dramatically with each outing.

Global Express did not beat much when he graduated at 1 3/8 miles on grass on July 26, but looked good doing it, scoring by nearly nine lengths after a stalking trip.

Five of the past 10 Breeders’ winners made their first start on turf in the race, and River Seven will try to be the next one. He never challenged in the Plate, but was second to favored Uncaptured in the middle Triple Crown leg, the Prince of Wales Stakes on the dirt at Fort Erie.

River Seven, by Johannesburg and out of Carotene Stakes winner Sans Souci Island, possesses ample turf breeding.

◗ The Breeders’ will be televised on Sportsnet 360 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Breeders’ is 5:10 p.m.