05/27/2011 11:26AM

Woodbine: Connaught Cup repeat try for Grand Adventure

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Michael Burns
Grand Adventure was voted champion male turf horse in Canada last year.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Last year’s Connaught Cup featured the revival of Grand Adventure, who was eventually crowned the champion male grass runner in Canada for 2010. He will try to win that Grade 2 stakes for the second year in a row Sunday at Woodbine, and should be tough to beat in the seven-furlong turf sprint.

Grand Adventure, a 5-year-old trained by Mark Frostad, won the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at 2, but then saw limited action during his 3-year-old season. The following winter, he got two starts under his belt at the Fair Grounds before ending up a neck back in the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland in the spring of 2010.

Six weeks ago, Grand Adventure finished a close second in the Shakertown once again. Frostad was tickled with the performance.

“I thought it was pretty damned good,” said Frostad. “He wasn’t nearly as tight as he was last year for that race, because he hadn’t had any starts at the Fair Grounds. I was really pleased with his effort. He’s really come along since that race.”

There figures to be lots of give in the ground Sunday, and Frostad said Grand Adventure can handle any type going.

Among Grand Adventure’s opponents Sunday is Artic Fern, who has made all five of his starts on Polytrack and has won his last four outings while plowing through his allowance conditions. He was on the road to last year’s Queen’s Plate before things went awry.

Following an 11-month layoff April 30, Artic Fern won a third-level optional claimer after pressing a tepid pace on the outside, an effort that surprised trainer Mike Keogh a little.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I had him ready,” Keogh said.

Many of the stakes winners in Arctic Fern’s immediate family could handle the grass. When asked how he thought Artic Fern would take to the turf, Keogh said, “I don’t really know.”

Stormy Lord, a speedy 4-year-old trained by Ian Black, had a lucrative 3-year-old campaign, during which he won the Toronto Cup Stakes and ran second in the Breeders’ Stakes. He has been idle since finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Nov. 13.

Listed stakes winner Macias was supplemented at a cost of $3,000. Macias finished third in a recent optional claimer at Keeneland in his first start for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Hollinger, Canada’s champion 2-year-old in 2009, has worked two bullets here since ending up third in a Keeneland allowance April 17.

Signature Red is switching to his preferred surface off a third in the Grade 3 Vigil Stakes.