07/14/2011 12:56PM

Woodbine: Clement Rock comes alive on turf, tops Toronto Cup

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Michael Burns
Clement Rock, with Luis Contreras up, wins the $100,000 Charlie Barley Stakes at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine’ s runaway leading rider, Luis Contreras, doesn’t dole out the superlatives liberally, so when he speaks highly of Clement Rock, one should take notice. Clement Rock will try to remain unbeaten on the grass in Saturday’s $150,000 Toronto Cup Stakes and should be favored in the nine-furlong test for 3-year-olds.

Clement Rock never challenged over a sloppy track when he debuted at Fair Grounds in March. He was subsequently turned over to trainer Mark Casse, who sent him out to earn his diploma from off the pace on the lawn here June 10.

Clement Rock took his game to another level June 25, in the $100,000 Charlie Barley Stakes. He closed stoutly along the inside from sixth to win that one-mile event going away while earning an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Clement Rock is doing really well,” Casse said. “He’s a tough horse, and I don’t know what happened in his first start. After we got him and trained him a little, I worked him with [stakes winner] Roxy Gap one morning, and he stayed with her and galloped out strongly afterwards. With him being a half-brother to Bridgetown, it was natural that he would like the grass. Luis thinks he’s a super horse. When he won on him last time, he came back and said this horse is special. He doesn’t usually say a whole lot.”

Casse also entered Thundering Waters, who was a prominent third in the Charlie Barley, finishing just 2 1/2 lengths back in his stakes debut.

Casse raved about Thurdering Waters’s five-furlong breeze in 1:01.80 last Monday.

“He’s not really a work horse, but he worked well,” Casse said. “I thought it was the best that I’ve ever seen him breeze. We had a few minor issues that we’re dealing with, and he may be better than he was three weeks ago.”

There are two shippers in the eight-horse field, Joes Blazing Aaron and Cozy Kitten.

Joes Blazing Aaron figures to shake loose on the lead under Emma Wilson, in his first start for trainer Steve Asmussen. He is 2 for 3 on the grass, which includes a victory over nine furlongs in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream.

Cozy Kitten, based at Keeneland with trainer Wesley Ward, rallied from far back for second last time out in a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs.