09/18/2013 11:23AM

Woodbine: Classic Bryce gets class relief in Friday optional claimer

Michael Burns
Classic Bryce most recently finished fourth and seventh in a pair of Grade 2 stakes on turf.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Classic Bryce drops out of Grade 2 stakes company to contest Friday’s Woodbine headliner, a second-level optional claimer scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on grass.

Classic Bryce showed promise in spring 2012, when he placed in three consecutive stakes leading up to the Queen’s Plate, but he got drilled in the Plate itself and in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie.

Following a 10-month layoff, Classic Bryce eked out a nose victory May 19 in a first-level allowance route in his first start on turf, a surface for which he’s strongly bred. He has stuck to turf ever since.

Classic Bryce rallied for second behind a sharp Grand Arch at this optional-claiming class level June 23. He went on to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes and seventh in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes, which was won by Forte Dei Marmi, who came back to take the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf.

Justin Stein has the mount on Classic Bryce, who is trained by Darwin Banach for owner and breeder Bill Sorokolit.

Thespian’s Fate and Sammy Alexander finished a nose apart when second and third in an identical spot as this one Aug. 4. The winner, Money Talker, returned to run fourth of five in a tough allowance on Polytrack.

Thespian’s Fate was prominent throughout the Aug. 4 race, in which he equaled his career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 88. He is coupled in the Sam-Son Farm entry with Red Strike, who rallied to beat $40,000 conditioned claimers Aug. 14 following a freshening. Eurico Rosa Da Silva was named on both Malcolm Pierce-trained geldings.

Sammy Alexander got away slowly before closing wide from seventh to finish three-quarters of a length behind the winner in his local debut Aug. 4. He wound up second twice in Gulfstream allowance company last March for trainer Brian Lynch, who will give Luis Contreras a leg up.

River Rush was a non-threatening fifth after saving ground in that Aug. 4 contest. He has done his best running on Polytrack, including a score in last year’s Plate Trial.

Danger Bay is a candidate to make the pace as he stretches out after fading to 10th in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Play the King Stakes. Drenched and Awesome Eclipse also could flash speed on the stretchout.

Completing the field for race 7 are Seen It All Before and Serious Indeed, along with the main-track-only entrants Courtville and Thor’s Piper.