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Woodbine: Blue Heart rewards patience with Bison City victory
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Blue Heart established herself as one of the best Canadian-bred fillies on the grounds here last October with her victory in the open Mazarine Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. But after Blue Heart failed to duplicate that effort when third in the restricted Princess Elizabeth and fourth in the Ontario Lassie at the same distance, she headed down to Florida with questions looming over her 3-year-old campaign.
It turned out that trainer Brian Lynch had the answers, and he was rewarded when Blue Heart prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths in Sunday’s $250,000 Bison City Stakes.
“She had some bone bruising,” said Lynch, who trains Blue Heart for California-based owners John and Sally Amerman. “We took her straight down to Palm Meadows and gave her plenty of time to cool that out. When I felt she was starting to come around, I put her back in training. I knew it was too late for the Oaks, but I was hoping she’d be ready for the Bison City.”
Blue Heart did run on the same June 3 card as the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks, but her appearance came in the Alywow, an open 6 1/2-furlong turf race for 3-year-old fillies. Lynch had identified the Alywow as Blue Heart’s prep for the Bison City, and the filly advanced her trainer’s plan when rallying to be beaten a neck as the second-place finisher.
The final piece of the puzzle was jockey Alex Solis, who was riding Blue Heart for the first time in the Bison City and delivered a perfect performance.
“Alex and I go way back, to when I first started training in California in the early 90s,” Lynch said. “He was my first-call rider and rode one of my first stakes winners, Rexy Sexy.”
Lynch now will be consulting with the Amermans regarding Blue Heart’s next appearance, with Woodbine’s July 29 Wonder Where Stakes a leading option.
The Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race that concludes the Canadian triple tiara, is worth $250,000.
Hunters Bay puts himself at division top
Hunters Bay certified his status as the boss of the older male main-track division here with a hard-fought one-length victory in Sunday’s $208,400 Dominion Day Stakes.
A Kentucky-bred 5-year-old gelding, Hunters Bay was recording his second straight Grade 3 win under rider Emma-Jayne Wilson following a successful stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse here May 28.
Hunters Bay stalked a slow pace in the 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day before engaging a game Pender Harbour and taking charge in the final sixteenth of a mile.
“The mile and a quarter is not a problem, but I don’t think he can run his race after three-quarters of a mile in 1:15,” said Reade Baker, who trains the homebred Hunters Bay for Stronach Stable. “Typically, nobody can close any ground when they’re sprinting the last three-eighths of a mile. You didn’t see the real Hunters Bay.”
Baker’s confidence in Hunters Bay should be put to the test as he is hoping to secure an invitation to Saratoga’s Grade 1 Woodward on Aug. 4.
The $750,000 Woodward is a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.
Pender Harbour, who had finished ninth when making his seasonal bow in the Eclipse but came back to score in the Steady Growth, acquitted himself well under his regular rider Luis Contreras in his Dominion Day defeat.
“He ran dynamite,” said trainer Mike DePaulo, who had watched Pender Harbour press the pace of front-running Straight Story from the first quarter onward. “Luis rode a great race. It’s not the horse’s style to be up there like that, but we didn’t have much choice.”
Straight Story, the pacesetter in the Dominion Day, broke down in deep stretch and was pulled up immediately by jockey Jesse Campbell. A spokesperson for Colts Neck Stable, which is the base of Straight Story’s trainer Alan Goldberg, said Monday morning that the 6-year-old horse had suffered a “serious injury” and was under the care of Dr. Darryl Bonder at his nearby veterinary clinic.
Uncaptured earns 95 Beyer for romp
Uncaptured was unstoppable here in last Saturday’s $150,000 Clarendon as he roared to a 5 1/2-length victory under rider Patrick Husbands.
His 1:03.05 clocking for the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon netted Uncaptured a Beyer Speed Figure of 95, the best earned by any 2-year-old in North America this year.
“I’ve never had a 2-year-old run that big a Beyer,” said Mark Casse, who trains Uncaptured for John Oxley.
Uncaptured remained undefeated in two starts. He was up in time to score by a nose over Ray’s Away in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race here May 13. Ray’s Away captured the Victoria Stakes in his next start.
“What’s been amazing to me about this horse is that I’ve trained him pretty hard, but he’s just looked so soft to me, like a horse that hadn’t really got to full fitness,” Casse said. “I was a little concerned that I’d brought him to the stakes a little too easy. But he looked different Sunday morning; he’d tucked up a little bit and looked like a man. To throw a race like that at you, the way he was, was impressive. He’s so much class.”
Uncaptured was defeating fellow Ontario-breds in the Clarendon, and Casse will be conferring with Oxley before deciding which direction his campaign will take.
“Do we stay in Toronto and run in the Canadian-bred races?” Casse said. “We’ve also got Calgary Cat for those, and he’s brilliant as well. I’m thinking of maybe taking (Uncaptured) to Saratoga, and see how he trains over the dirt. I don’t want to run him too much early. We bought him in the hopes he was a two-turn-horse, and I think he is.”
Calgary Cat also was entered in the Clarendon, but Casse elected to scratch that colt when he drew post 1.
Casse now is looking to the $150,000 Colin, an open six-furlong stakes here July 14, for Calgary Cat’s debut.
Calgary Cat breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 here Monday, the quickest of 21 workers at the distance.
Dead On, Menlo Castle work for stakes
Dead On and Menlo Castle, the eighth- and ninth-place finishers in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 3, breezed five furlongs here Sunday morning in preparation for the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes.
The Prince of Wales, the 1 3/16-mile race that follows the Queen’s Plate as the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, will be run over Fort Erie’s dirt surface July 15.
Dead On, trained by Malcolm Pierce, finished second on the dirt at Fair Grounds when competing under first-level allowance terms at 1 1/16 miles,
Jockey Todd Kabel was in the irons Sunday when Dead On breezed in 1:00.60 on the dirt training track while going in company with maiden stablemate Cape Race.
Menlo Castle was clocked in 1:02.60 on the Polytrack with Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons.
“It was a nice, easy work,” said trainer Ralph Biamonte.
Biamonte had discovered inflammation in one of Menlo Castle’s ankles, which undoubtedly impacted his Plate Trial performance.