07/18/2011 1:56PM

Woodbine: Clement Rock stays perfect on local turf

Michael Burns
Clement Rock stayed perfect on the Woodbine turf course with a win in the Toronto Cup.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse had a rather disappointing Sunday at Fort Erie when Hippolytus, the gelding whom he had sent out for a second-place finish in the Queen’s Plate, failed to build on that effort when fourth in the Prince of Wales.

But things went well enough on the home front in a pair of stakes last weekend as Clement Rock gave Casse his sixth stakes win of the meeting in Saturday’s Toronto Cup and Dene Court and Quality Miss produced a 2-4 finish in Sunday’s Shady Well.

Clement Rock was bred in Florida by his owner, Eugene Melnyk, and was unstarted as a 2-year-old.

After finishing last of 11 over sloppy going in an off-the-turf maiden race in his debut at Fair Grounds on March 4, Clement Rock freshened up for a turf campaign at Woodbine and is now 3 for 3 on the Woodbine course.

The $156,000 Toronto Cup was Clement Rock’s longest test to date, at 1 1/8 miles, and the colt was all out to win by a neck as the 3-5 favorite under regular rider Luis Contreras.

“I was a little concerned when he opened up on the lead at the top of the stretch,” said Casse, who had sent out Clement Rock to win a 1 1/16-mile maiden race here June 10 and the one-mile Charlie Barley just more than two weeks later.

“He’s just a young horse; that was just his fourth start. He won, but it wasn’t pretty.”

Casse has no immediate plan for Clement Rock’s next engagement.

“I’m going to give him a bit of a break,” Casse said. “He’s run three hard races in a very short period of time.”

Dene Court, a Melnyk homebred who had won her debut over five furlongs here June 25, battled throughout the $151,200 Shady Well, but came up a half-length shy of invader Judy the Beauty in the 5 1/2-furlong stakes for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

Quality Lass, debuting in the 11-horse Shady Well field for West Point Thoroughbreds, was beaten 5 1/4 lengths as the fourth-place finisher.

“I was very proud of Dene Court; I thought she ran very well,” Casse said. “I think the difference between winning and losing was being down on the inside.

“I think you’re going to hear a lot more in the future from both her and Judy the Beauty. They might be very good fillies.”

Casse also was pleased with the performance of Quality Lass.

“She ran very green, but I thought her race was very good and it will move her forward,” Casse said.

Judy the Beauty already a world traveler

Judy the Beauty, owned and trained by Wesley Ward, was making her third career start and remained undefeated in the Shady Well.

Making her record a considerable cut above the mundane, however, is the fact that Judy the Beauty has made her three appearances in three different countries – the United States, France, and Canada.

“I had her scheduled to race at Royal Ascot, along with the others in my contingent,” said Ward, who currently is based at Saratoga, where the meeting begins Friday.

“When I brought her back, she was absolutely ready to run. I had to decide between this race and the Schuylerville, and I have another filly for that race.”

Ward continues to be impressed by Judy the Beauty’s determination.

“She’s an amazing horse, the way she wants to win,” Ward said. “She just digs down into her soul to do it.”

Judy the Beauty was on her way back to Saratoga, where Ward will be assessing her condition before planning the next step in her campaign.

Banner Bill makes it three in a row

Trainer Ralph Biamonte also had a solid stakes weekend here, with Banner Bill winning Saturday’s $150,000 Colin at six furlongs and Roses and Shine running third in the Shady Well.

Banner Bill, bred in Illinois, was recording his third win in as many starts for R Plus Partners, a group that includes his breeders, Ron Magers and Bob Marcocchio.

His earlier successes came in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race and in the five-furlong Victoria Stakes.

David Clark, Banner Bill’s regular rider, had to work hard to get the gelding home in the Colin after being headed in midstretch.

“He didn’t run the way we expected,” Biamonte said. “I think he was a little too sharp after his fast work the weekend before, and he was too close early. But it’s all going to make him a better horse.”

If all remains well, Banner Bill will make his next start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special, a 6 1/2-furlong race on Aug. 15.

Roses and Shine, who races for owner and co-breeder James Sabiston, won first crack out for a $40,000 claiming price, but then finished fourth in the open My Dear at five furlongs in her start prior to the Shady Well.

“I was really happy with her, too,” Biamonte said. “She just got beat by some better horses, but she made a run and left some good ones behind her, too.”

Biamonte will be sending Roses and Shine to Sabiston’s nearby Longview Farm for a two-week breather.

The filly then will come back into the track with a long-term eye toward the Muskoka, the 6 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies that will be one of six stakes on the Sept. 5 program for products of the local yearling sales.

Roses and Shine was a $19,000 buyback at the select session of the sale here last fall.

Biamonte nominates pair to Vandal

The Biamonte barn, which continues to have a solid meeting with its 2-year-olds with a record now standing at 7-3-3 from 15 starters, has the maidens Menlo Castle and Where’s Johnson nominated to the July 31 Vandal, a six-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

Menlo Castle and Where’s Johnson both performed encouragingly when debuting in open maiden races at six furlongs here July 10.

Where’s Johnson almost came out a winner, closing to miss by a head as the runner-up, but Menlo Castle’s division went in significantly faster time and he was beaten 1 1/2 lengths as the third-place finisher.

Biamonte is not committed to the Vandal, but could start one of the geldings there and the other in a maiden race.