08/04/2011 12:05PM

Woodbine: Breeders' attracts 14 to test unknown


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The Breeders’ Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian triple crown, is contested over 1 1/2 miles on turf, circumstances foreign to Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here at this stage of their careers.

That fact, plus the $500,000 purse, once again has proved to be an effective lure as a field of 14 was entered Sunday for the Breeders’, surpassing the 13-horse fields of the past two seasons.

Pender’s Harbour, who won Fort Erie’s 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales after finishing third here in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate, and Hippolytus, second in the Queen’s Plate and fourth in the Prince of Wales, will be the only horses to compete in all three legs of the Canadian triple. Both will be making their first starts on grass.

Queen’splatekitten, fifth in the Queen’s Plate after winning the 1 1/16-mile Marine for trainer Todd Pletcher, ran well on the turf at Gulfstream this winter, including a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Royal Palm at 1 1/8 miles.

Celtic Conviction also is proven on turf with a victory here in last year’s restricted 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer and a last-out second-place finish in the open 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup.

Pender Harbour, Queens’platekitten, and Celtic Conviction are the only three-time winners in the field.

Hippolytus has won twice, as has Head Honcho, who also will be making his first start on grass.

Blackstone Bay, Control, Crown’s Path, Delawana, Molinaro Remarks, Runaway Whiz and Seawatch all have won once, while Diego Bay and Stunning Split are maidens.

Kurogane out with foot trouble

Meanwhile, the Breeders’ lost another probable starter on Thursday when Kurogane was withdrawn from consideration.

“He worked really well on the turf last Sunday, but he had a minor foot issue,” said Paul Attard, who has sent out the homebred to win two of his three starts this year for Chiefswood Stable.

“The blacksmith said he’d be fine to run, but we’re not 100-percent confident and we didn’t want to take the risk.”

Different approach to Breeders'

While Runaway Whiz and Seawatch will be trying turf for the first time, they will be coming into the Breeders’ from radically different directions.

Runaway Whiz, trained by Mark Frostad, finished second when making his last start in a restricted first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here July 20.

Seawatch, trained by Josie Carroll, ended a respectable sixth, beaten just six lengths by his stablemate, the victorious Inglorious, in the Queen’s Plate.

Runaway Whiz, winless in five starts here last year for trainer Hank Gensler, was moved over to Frostad at the end of the season and wintered in Ocala.

“He’s run two good races this year,” said Frostad, who sent out Runaway Whiz to win his maiden over 6 1/2 furlongs in Ontario-sired company in his May 29 seasonal debut.

“I think my horse got a mile and a sixteenth pretty nicely. It was only his second start of the year, and his first around two turns. Ojibway Signal, who beat him there, came back to win last weekend."

Still, Frostad acknowledges that Runaway Whiz comes into the Breeders’ with questions to answer.

“Whether he’ll get the Breeders’ trip or not, and whether he’s good enough, remains to be seen,” said Frostad. “But, we’ll take a shot He worked very well on the grass last weekend.”

Seawatch was making his third start of the year in the Queen’s Plate after winning his maiden at 1 1/16 miles on May 15 and ending fifth, beaten just 2.75 lengths, in the open Victoria Park at 1 1/8 miles here June 12.

“He’s fresh, and that should stand him in good stead,” said Carroll, who trains Seawatch for the Donver Stable of Vern and Donna Dubinsky, who also own Inglorious.

“And, the way he ran in the Plate, he should be fine at a mile and a half. But at this distance you don’t ever really know until you do it.”

Seawatch also breezed on the training turf course last Sunday in preparation for his first race on the grass.

“He had a really good work, and galloped out very strong,” said Carroll. “He’s by Woodman, so I think putting him on the grass should be good.”

Two other stakes contenders

Carroll also has candidates for the weekend’s other two stakes with Notacloudinthesky slated to start in Sunday’s $125,000 Nandi for the Dubinskys and James Street set to make his first start for the stable in Saturday’s $150,000 Seagram Cup.

The Nandi is a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds and the Seagram Cup is a Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward.

James Street, a Kentucky-homebred who races for Eugene Melnyk, made his first 12 starts for trainer Mark Casse, including a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Dominion Day at 1 1/4 miles here July 1.

“I’m still getting to know him, but he’s a very nice horse,” said Carroll, who has had James Street in her stable for only a couple of weeks.

“When I breezed him the other day it seemed like the further he went, the stronger he got. He was very strong galloping out.”

Lord of Greatness back in a stakes

James Street was making his stakes debut in the Dominion Day, and one of his Seagram Cup opponents, Lord of Greatness, will be making his first stakes appearance since finishing second in the Swynford in his second career appearance back in 2008.

Lord of Greatness, a Florida-bred 5-year-old horse, was claimed for $25,000 here last November by trainer Bob Tiller and closed out his campaign with a third-place finish at the $32,000 level for the Entourage Stable of Frank DiGiulio Jr. and partners.

But Lord of Greatness has been unbeatable since finishing fifth in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs in his 2011 debut, rattling off three straight wins at 1 1/16 miles while knocking out his first two allowance conditions.

“He’ll get tested in there, but the horse is doing good and he’s liable to run well again,” said Tiller.

“He’s an improved horse, and sometimes you get lucky when you’re like that.”

Distance right for Race for Gold

Tiller also plans to be represented in Wednesday’s stakes feature with Race for Gold on target for the $125,000 Shepperton, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

“He’ll like that distance,” said Tiller, who trains Race for Gold for The Very Dry Stable. “There should be some speed in there and this looks like a good spot to take a run at them.”

Race for Gold tried two turns for the first time in his latest and finished fifth, beaten six lengths, in the restricted Steady Growth at 1 1/16 miles.

“He didn’t run that badly, but he doesn’t really want to go two turns,” said Tiller. “He kind of got down on the inside, and never really fired.”