09/02/2011 11:05AM

Woodbine: Celtic Conviction on improve entering Vice Regent

Michael Burns
Celtic Conviction, winning the $252,000 Cup and Saucer last year, will try to beat Queen Street Beach in the Vice Regent.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The scrappy Celtic Conviction will clash with unbeaten Queen Street Beach Sunday at Woodbine in the $125,000 Vice Regent Stakes, a one-mile turf route for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

The Mike Doyle-trained Celtic Conviction, who captured the 2010 Cup and Saucer Stakes, has been competitive against some quality opposition this year. He dug in late to finish a close second to favored Clement Rock in the open Toronto Cup Stakes July 16.

Celtic Conviction lengthened out from nine to 12 furlongs most recently in the Breeders’ Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. He raced prominently over a soft course, but came over on the rail-hugging Crown’s Path at the sixteenth pole before taking a run at the wide-closing Pender Harbour in the final strides. He lost by a nose, and was demoted from second to third for interfering with Crown’s Path.

“He ran a helluva race,” said Doyle. “He had Hippolytus leaning all over him for a furlong. If that doesn’t go down, he might have gotten it done on his own. He came out of it great. He’s in fantastic shape.”

Emile Ramsammy will ride Celtic Conviction, who has matured significantly this year, according to Doyle.

“I think he’s improved with age,” said Doyle. “He’s gotten better as he goes along, and he’s a real sound, tough little horse.”

Queen Street Beach, trained by Mark Casse for Melnyk Racing Stable, graduated at first asking on the Polytrack June 24, earning an 82 Beyer Figure in that Ontario-sired maiden sprint. He doubled up three weeks later in a six-furlong allowance on the grass.

Queen Street Beach defeated a decent field of Ontario-sired 3-year-olds in the July 27 Deputy Minister Stakes. He got an 83 Beyer for completing seven furlongs on Polytrack in 1:22.88.

Patrick Husbands, who was aboard for all three of Queen’s Street Beach’s races, was pleased with the gelding’s five-furlong work in 1:01 on Aug. 25.

“He breezed extremely well,” said Husbands. “I’m looking forward to a great future from him.”

Welloiledmachine could crack the top three. He rallied strongly from 10 lengths back to capture his turf debut in a 1 1/16-mile allowance for Ontario-sired stock Aug. 12. He was previously fifth in the second Triple Crown race, the Prince of Wales Stakes on the dirt at Fort Erie.

The Casse-trained Hippolytus, who wound up fourth in the Breeders’, is also in the 11-horse field.