10/10/2012 3:03PM

Woodbine: Canadian International prospect Wigmore Hall accustomed to frequent flying

Michael Burns
Wigmore Hall gets in some early morning training time at Woodbine on Tuesday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Wigmore Hall, who checked in following a flight from Amsterdam last Saturday for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Canadian International, certainly is no stranger to transatlantic travel.

Less than one month ago, Wigmore Hall won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer here a Woodbine over 1 1/2 miles of turf and then returned to his home base.

Just three weeks prior to that, Wigmore Hall had booked a return flight to Arlington and finished fourth in the Grade 1, 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million.

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Gillian Dolman has accompanied Wigmore Hall on his journeys as traveling head lass for trainer Michael Bell, who conditions the 5-year-old gelding for owner Mark Hawtin.

Dolman had headed back to Europe with Wigmore Hall the day after the Northern Dancer and barely had time to take a deep breath before she learned that they would be returning for the Canadian International.

“I don’t think the traveling’s taken the edge off him,” said Dolman. “He’s showing no signs of wear and tear.

“He’s in great form. He’s glad to be back here, I think.”

Of more concern to the connection is the perception that Wigmore Hall will be facing a tougher task with the likes of Joshua Tree, Imperial Monarch, and Reliable Man also invading from Europe for the Canadian International.

“It’s a step up, big time,” said Dolman, adding that soft turf would not be to Wigmore Hall’s advantage.

“He’s got such a turn of foot,” she said. “He can’t show that on soft ground. We found that in England this summer.”

Jamie Spencer, aboard for the two Northern Dancer scores and all but one of Wigmore Hall’s seven career victories, retains the mount.

Spencer previous Canadian International experience consists of back-to-back third-place finishes aboard Brian Boru in 2003 and 2004.

Wigmore Hall will be the second Canadian International entrant for Bell, whose Allied Powers ran seventh here in 2009.

Lay Time likely for International

As of Wednesday, Lay Time remained under consideration for both the Canadian International and Sunday’s Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

But Leanne Masterton, traveling head lass for trainer Andrew Balding, believed the International was a more likely prospect.

“She ran a mile and three-eighths last time, and stayed on very well,” said Masterton, who has been a frequent visitor through the years and was on hand when Balding won the 2003 Canadian International with Phoenix Reach and finished third in 2009 with Buccellatti.

Lay Time’s latest race was the Sept. 22 St. Simon Stakes, a Group 3 race in which she was beaten a head as the runner-up in a four-horse field.

The daughter of Galileo has kept some top company this year with her lone win in six starts coming in the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes over 1 1/4 miles of soft turf at Windsor on Aug. 25.

Jimmy Fortune, whose best Canadian International result from two tries was a third aboard Courteous in 2008, retains the mount on Lay Time.

Last year, the 4-year-old filly Sarah Lynx had been under consideration for both the Canadian International and E.P. Taylor and was a four-length winner after her connections elected to face males in the longer and richer race.

Fillies challenge males in Nearctic

Night Carnation, a English-bred 4-year-old filly who is trained by Balding for her owner and breeder George Strawbridge, is slated to take on males in the $500,000 Nearctic, the six-furlong race which is the third Grade 1 turf feature here Sunday.

While her most important win to date came last year in the Group 3 Coral Charge over about five furlongs of turf at Sandown, Night Carnation also acquitted herself quite well when sixth of 22 runners in the Group 1 King’s Stand over five furlongs of turf at Ascot this spring.

“She’s a hardy filly,” said Masterton. “Nothing worries her.’

Fortune has the call here and has ridden Night Carnation to each of her five career wins, including her latest appearance in a 5 3/4-furlong minor stakes at Bath.

Fire Lily, a 3-year-old filly trained by Dermot Weld in Ireland, also will be taking on males in the Nearctic.

A winner of three Group 3 races in Ireland, including a victory over males this summer for trainer David Wachman, Fire Lady arrives in solid form and will be well supported.

Wachman’s only previous starter at Woodbine was Latin Love, who finished in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes over 1 1/8 miles of turf in 2010.

Jockey Wayne Lordan will be making his Woodbine debut.

Serious Attitude, a 4-year-old, upset the 2010 Nearctic and is the only female winner since the race first was run under its current terms in 1995.

Double McTwist changes tactics

Double McTwist had been an impressive front-running winner of his only start, taking a field of maidens wire-to-wire at 5 1/2 furlongs on July 29.

But, Double McTwist looked to be in deep here in Monday’s $125,000 Bull Page, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old colts and geldings.

“He went to the lead in his first start, and just kept going,” said Biamonte. “But on Monday, I knew there was going to be so much speed.”

Biamonte’s concerns over Double McTwist getting caught up in a speed duel took on a different form as the gelding dropped back through the opening quarter.

“When he fell back and only had one horse beaten, I said ‘Uh, oh’,” said Biamonte.

The trainer’s tune suddenly changed again as Double McTwist came rolling around the turn and never let up while powering to an 8 1/2-length victory under Alex Solis with his 1:09.75 clocking yielding a Beyer Speed Figure of 81.

“He ran a big race,” said Biamonte. “The effort didn’t look hard, but I’m sure it took a lot of out of him.”

Double McTwist, who was bred by Biamonte’s wife, Mary, and is owned by his son, Bret, should make his next start in the $125,000 Frost King, a seven-furlong stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds here Nov. 7.

◗ Alex Solis, who is based at Woodbine but is a frequent flyer for the weekend stakes, will be in Illinois on Saturday to ride Aldous Snow in the Grade 3, $200,000 Hawthorne Derby, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. A homebred 3-year-old who races for Sam-Son Farm, Aldous Snow is trained by Malcolm Pierce.

◗ Handicapper and television host Jim Bannon will host a one-hour seminar here Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. on the third floor of the grandstand. Bannon will be focusing on the Canadian International Day program.