05/17/2013 12:14PM

Woodbine: Coffee Clique, Overheard merit respect in Selene


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Coffee Clique and Overheard, both coming off solid efforts in turf stakes in the United States, deserve serious attention in a solid field for Sunday’s Selene Stakes at Woodbine.

Coffee Clique, who is trained by Brian Lynch, and Overheard, conditioned by Malcolm Pierce, each recorded her first career victory here last fall on Polytrack and will be returning to that surface for the Grade 3 Selene at 1 1/16 miles.

Coffee Clique’s local success came in her debut last Dec. 2.

“She broke her maiden well on the Poly here, and I’ve never really had a chance to put her back on it,” said Lynch, who conditions the Kentucky homebred Coffee Clique for John and Jerry Amerman.

Coffee Clique made her second career start on the dirt at Gulfstream, finishing 14 lengths back in fifth but beaten just 2 3/4 lengths for the place.

That seven-furlong optional-claiming race was won by Live Lively, who came back to win the Grade 2 Davona Dale but had to be euthanized early this month after suffering serious injuries during a workout.

Lynch said Coffee Clique didn’t like getting dirt kicked in her face at Gulfstream.

“You can draw a line through that race,” he said.

Coffee Clique’s three subsequent outings have come on turf at Gulfstream as she cleared her first allowance condition over one mile, ran fourth in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at 1 1/8 miles, and then ended third but was placed second via a disqualification in the one-mile Secret Grace.

“She was badly hampered in that last run,” said Lynch of Coffee Clique’s 1 3/4-length defeat in the March 31 Secret Grace. “She was very unlucky not to win. She’s been freshened with this race in mind. She’s going into it in good order.”

Coffee Clique tuned up for the Selene here Monday with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.20 under jockey Luis Contreras, who will be back in the irons for the Selene.

Overheard, bred in Kentucky by her owner Josephine Abercrombie, won her second start last fall here after finishing third in her seven-furlong debut.

In three subsequent outings, all on turf, Overheard knocked out her first allowance condition over 7 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds, finished third there in the 7 1/2-furlong LaCombe Memorial, and then ran second in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Appalachian at one mile.

“She ran some good races over the winter,” said Pierce.

Overheard was supplemented to the Selene at a cost of $3,000.

“She had a good work last Sunday,” said Pierce, who sent out Overheard to breeze five furlongs in 1:00.80 under returning rider Eurico Rosa Da Silva.

Five Iron, Up With the Birds point to Marine

Lynch and Pierce also are planning to be represented in next Sunday’s $150,000 Marine, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Five Iron, a Kentucky-bred who races for Fred Allor, is coming off a closing second-place finish for Lynch here in the six-furlong Woodstock on April 21.

Five Iron, a first-out winner at six furlongs here last July, went on to finish second behind subsequent Canadian Horse of the Year and 2-year-old champion Uncaptured in the seven-furlong Swynford and fourth here in the Grade 3 Grey at 1 1/16 miles.

After two unsuccessful efforts on the dirt at Churchill Downs, Five Iron returned to action in a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Keeneland and finished sixth after pressing the pace from post 12.

“He’s been a bit headstrong,” said Lynch. “I was happy to see him settle last time. Ultimately, we want to get him to do two turns.”

Up With the Birds, trained by Pierce, ran second last time out in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Transylvania, a 1 1/16-mile turf race which was his second start of the season.

Up With the Birds won the Coronation Futurity over 1 1/8 miles here last fall and captured the Black Gold over 7 1/2 furlongs of turf at Fair Grounds in his first start of 2013.

Maiden winner enters Queen’s Plate picture

Pierce and Sam-Son have another potential Queen’s Plate starter in His Race to Win, who won his maiden in impressive fashion here last Sunday under Da Silva.

His Race to Win had started six times, finishing third behind Up With the Birds in the Coronation Futurity among four top-three finishes. He was coming off a sixth-place finish in which he was beaten by three lengths over 1 3/16 miles of turf at Keeneland.

“He ran into some tough horses in that race at Keeneland,” said Pierce. “He’s just starting to come around. He’d been looking around at other horses. Now, he’s kind of getting focused a little bit.

“Last week Eurico kicked him clear at the top of the stretch, and he went on about his business instead of lollygagging.”

His Race to Win could use a first-level allowance or the June 9 Plate Trial as his stepping-stone to the Queen’s Plate.

The $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run on the same card as the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Checkered Past an Oaks possibility

Pierce and Sam-Son are pointing Smartyfly and Dance Again for the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks and have a third possibility in Checkered Past, who won her maiden at 1 1/16 miles under Da Silva here last Saturday.

Checkered Past had debuted on Feb. 23 at Fair Grounds, finishing third in an off-the-turf race at a mile and 70 yards, and then ran sixth after a wide trip at Keeneland over one mile of turf.

“She’s put herself into the Oaks picture a little bit,” said Pierce. “She finished up well, and Eurico never hit her.”

Expect Royal Egbert to improve in New Providence

Paul Buttigieg won last year’s New Providence with Gypsy Ring, the top-drawer sprinter who was sidelined by suspensory problems last summer.

On Monday, Buttigieg will be looking for a New Providence double with Royal Egbert, who will be facing eight Ontario-sired rivals in the $125,000, six-furlong feature on the nine-race holiday card.

Royal Egbert won his first three starts last year, including the restricted Shepperton at 6 1/2 furlongs, but then tired to finish ninth in the seven-furlong Overskate.

“We had to operate on him and took two small chips out of his knee after that race,” said Buttigieg, who also is the owner and breeder of the 5-year-old Royal Egbert.

Royal Egbert returned to action here April 28 in the five-furlong allowance prep for the New Providence, pressing the pace of the returning Raincoats’ntuxedos before weakening to finish fifth.

“I babied him too much going into that race,” said Buttigieg. “He was a short horse. There’s nothing wrong with him now.”

Meanwhile, Gypsy Ring started back in light training at Buttigieg’s farm three weeks ago.

“If he stays 100 percent, he’ll run,” said Buttigieg. “If not, I’ll retire him.”