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Woodbine: Chernetz gets first stakes mount in Display aboard Mercenary
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Dave Cotey has been looking forward to Saturday’s Display Stakes at Woodbine on several counts.
Cotey will be sending out both Mercenary and My Name Is Michael for the $150,000 Display, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.
And, Cotey also is excited about giving the call on Mercenary to Skye Chernetz, the apprentice jockey who has been his go-to rider since she began her career here this spring and will be participating in her first stakes race.
“I don’t think there’s anybody better out of the gate,” said Cotey, who had furnished Chernetz with 149 of her 316 mounts and 9 of her 15 winners heading into the current week. “She sits a horse and always gets them in position where they’ve got a shot. I feel really comfortable with her.”
Mercenary, a Kentucky-bred who is owned by Cotey’s Dominion Bloodstock, debuted for a $50,000 claiming price at six furlongs this summer and closed strongly to finish third, beaten just three-quarters of a length.
“He got left so bad, he was about 20 lengths behind,” said Cotey. “But, he came back and won pretty easy.”
Mercenary’s win came in a straight maiden race at six furlongs and his two subsequent starts have yielded sixth-place finishes in the Grade 2 Summer at one mile on the turf and the Grade 3 Grey at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack.
“He had a couple of tough trips in those stakes,” said Cotey. “In the Grey he was stopped once on the backstretch, and once turning for home. For such a troubled trip, he ran not that bad a race.
“And, he’s come back and worked well.”
Chernetz was aboard last Sunday when Mercenary breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 in his major tune-up for the Display.
My Name Is Michael heading to Mott’s barn
My Name Is Michael will be competing for a new partnership in the Display as Cotey and his partner Barry Butzer have sold a 75 percent interest to Adam Wachtel.
Following the Display, My Name Is Michael will be going to trainer Bill Mott, who has trained the likes of Ron the Greek and Al Khali for Wachtel.
Bred in Kentucky, My Name Is Michael also got away poorly in his debut but rallied to be beaten just a length as the fifth-place finisher at five furlongs before graduating impressively at six furlongs in his second appearance.
Most recently, My Name Is Michael failed to deliver the same late kick while finishing third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by fellow Display contestant Clearly Now.
“He’d been sick before that last start, and he was full of mucus when we scoped him after,” said Cotey. “He was climbing a bit, but he still ran a decent race. He’ll go into this one a lot better. He’s doing really well.”
Chernetz has been My Name Is Michael’s jockey to date but journeyman Jesse Campbell is taking over for the Display and was in the irons when the colt worked five furlongs in 1:03.20 here last Sunday.
The Display will be My Name Is Michael’s first try around two turns but his trainer is optimistic that the trip will be within his scope.
“His pedigree says he will,” said Cotey. “And the way he’s been running, he sits and relaxes but he’s got a real turn of foot to him.”
Local option suits Really Sharp best
The field for the Display was drawn Wednesday and the 10 entrants also include Really Sharp, who was supplemented to the race at a cost of $3,000.
Bred in Kentucky by his owners Richard and Nancy Kaster and conditioned by Ian Black, Really Sharp also had been under consideration for the Dec. 15 Dania Beach, a one-mile turf race at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s run well on all three surfaces,” said Black. “He might end up being a turf horse but he’s run and worked well enough up here, and this is in our own backyard.”
Really Sharp finished a good second when debuting over seven furlongs of Polytrack and came back to graduate over the same distance and surface in his next outing.
Debuting on turf in the Grade 3 Bourbon over one mile of Keeneland, Really Sharp appeared to be headed for victory when he swerved out in midstretch. Although he battled on to be beaten just a nose, Really Sharp was disqualified and placed sixth.
In his fourth and most recent outing, Really Sharp shipped to Aqueduct for the Grade 2 Nashua and dueled through a quick pace before weakening to finish third, beaten five lengths.
Justin Stein, who will ride Really Sharp for the first time in the Display, was in the irons when the colt breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 here last Saturday.
“The track was slow that day,” said Black. “I worked him from behind a couple of horses, and he came home in 24 [seconds].”
Riding the River recuperating
Cotey reports that Riding the River, who was put away for the season with back problems after finishing fourth in the Woodbine Mile, is recovering nicely.
“He’s doing great,” said Cotey. “We kept him here and gave him three months off. He had bad bone bruises in his back ankles. That was causing him to go sore in his back.”
Riding the River, owned by Cotey in partnership with Hugh Galbraith and Jim McNair, recorded back-to-back Grade 2 turf stakes wins here in the one-mile King Edward and 1 1/8-mile Nijinsky.
The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old Riding the River also ran second in the Grade 2 Play the King at seven furlongs on the turf while earning $427,900 in six starts this season and is a probable finalist in the Sovereign Award balloting for champion turf male.
Stormy Lord will spend winter in Florida
Stormy Lord, who could earn some consideration in the same Sovereign Award category, is scheduled to leave for Payson Park on Monday after finishing last of 12 in last Sunday’s Grade 3 River City Handicap over 1 1/8 miles of turf at Churchill Downs.
“Horses came rushing up beside him, and he doesn’t try very hard when that happens,” said Black, who trains Stormy Lord for David Willmot and partners. “He just backed right out of it.”
Stormy Lord, a 5-year-old gelding, won just once in eight starts this season but that success came in the $250,000 Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President’s Cup over 1 1/8 miles of turf at Parx Racing.
Bred in Ontario by Willmot’s Kinghavaen Farm, Stormy Lord also finished second here in the Grade 2 Sky Classic, beaten three-quarters of a length by Forte dei Marmi in that 1 1/8-mile turf race, and earned $238,603 on the season.
Atlantic Hurricane targets Sunshine Millions
Atlantic Hurricane, who finished a tough-trip third here in last Sunday’s Grade 3 Bessarabian at seven furlongs, left Wednesday morning for Ocala, Fla., and the Niall Brennan Training Center,
“We’ll give her a little freshening and consider getting her ready to run in the Sunshine Millions,” said Stu Simon, who trains the 5-year-old Atlantic Hurricane and owns the mare in partnership with Brent and Russ McLellan and Carl Hollick.
The Sunshine Millions card, featuring six stakes for horses bred in Florida and California, will be run next year on Jan. 19 at Gulfstream Park.
Atlantic Hurricane’s event of choice would be the $150,000 Filly and Mare Sprint at six furlongs.
I believe that, since last year, the Sunshine Millions has been restricted to Fla.-breds only, not Cal.-breds also.
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