09/02/2011 1:13PM

Woodbine: Courageous Cat tops Woodbine Mile nominations

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Courageous Cat is likely to prep for the Breeders' Cup Mile in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The nominations for the Sept. 18 Woodbine Mile were released Friday, and there is no question about who tops the list for this year’s running.

The connections of Courageous Cat, who is coming off a game win in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park on July 2, have announced their intentions of using the Woodbine Mile as a springboard to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Courageous Cat, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred who races for his owners and breeders, Pam and Marty Wygod, was beaten just a half-length by Goldikova in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

Churchill Downs will host the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 5.

Court Vision, last year’s Woodbine Mile winner for IEAH Stable and traier Richard Dutrow Jr., is slated to return this year for new interests.

Bred in Kentucky, the 6-year-old Court Vision recently was purchased by Spendthrift Farm as a stallion prospect and turned over to trainer Dale Romans.

Court Vision, who went on to be beaten 2 3/4 lengths as the fifth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, came into last year’s Woodbine Mile off a layoff of more than three months and will be looking to replicate that pattern.

Gio Ponti, second to Goldikova in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs, also is under consideration for the Woodbine Mile.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Gio Ponti is being aimed for a return trip to Louisville and could tune up in the Woodbine Mile and/or the Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 8.

Turallure, owned by Donna Arnold and trained by Charles Lopresti, also has been mentioned as a possibility for the Woodbine Mile.

Bred in Kentucky, the 4-year-old colt upset the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch over 1/8 miles of turf in his last start at Saratoga on Aug. 26.

The Woodbine Mile also is in the cards for Dance and Dance, who is based in England with trainer Edward Vaughan.

Bred in Ireland, the 5-year-old gelding is coming off a neck defeat as the runner-up in the Group 3 Totepool Sovereign over one mile of good-to-firm turf at Salisbury on Aug. 11.

Riding the River fared the best of the local contingent in last Sunday’s Play the King, ending as the runner-up, just a nose behind the invading Havelock, and is scheduled to carry on to the Woodbine Mile.

But a number of observers believe that Grand Adventure, a 5-year-old horse who is trained by Mark Frostad, actually may have been best in the Grade 2 Play the King, even though he was beaten by 2 1/2 lengths in the seven-furlong turf race..

“He got in a lot of trouble; I think he should have won,” said Frostad, who watched Grand Adventure endure a catalog of misadventures en route to a sixth-place finish as the 4-1 second choice under regular rider Patrick Husbands.

“He walked out of the gate, was behind a wall of horses, was blocked, had to go wide, and came flying in the final sixteenth.”

Grand Adventure would be making his third appearance in the Woodbine Mile.

In 2009, as a 3-year-old, Grand Adventure set the pace before ending up ninth in the field of 10, beaten 10 1/2 lengths.

Last year, Grand Adventure had a rough trip after breaking from the outside post in the field of 13 and was prominent early before fading to finish eighth, beaten seven lengths.

Court of the Realm, who ended last of 12 in the Play the King as the third choice under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, could seek redemption in the Woodbine Mile.

“He came out of the race with a sore back; he got hammered pretty good,” said Peter Berringer, who trains Court of the Realm for the Oxbridge Farm of Ming Fong and Sandra Albus and his mother Joan Berringer’s Aurora Meadows.

“He hit the rail and Da Silva had to stand up and basically gallop him the last eighth of a mile.”

Mikoshi, ridden by Hiroki Gotu, had come in on Court of the Realm in midstretch and ended 10th.

Stormy Lord looking out of town

Stormy Lord, who was beaten 8 1/4 lengths as the 11th-place finisher and fifth choice at just under 6-1 in the Play the King, could be heading out of town for his next appearance.

“He’s obviously not a Mile horse, and there’s not much coming up for him here,” said Ian Black, who trains the 4-year-old gelding for Hat Trick Stable and Kinghaven.

Black said that one option for Stormy Lord was the PTHA Presidents Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race at Parx Racing on Sept. 17.

Rahy’s Attorney, recently retired after banking more than $2.2 million for Black and owner/breeders Joe and Ellen MacLellan and partners, finished second in the PTHA Presidents Cup last year.

Sapphire Star set for Muskoka

The fields for Monday’s six yearling sales stakes were drawn Friday, and the main focus will be on the 2-year-old races, with their purses having been boosted from $125,000 to $200,000.

As expected, both 6 1/2-furlong stakes drew good-sized fields, with 10 fillies entered in the Muskoka and 11colts and geldings in the Simcoe.

There are several modest yearling purchases among the entrants, and one who could prove to be of particular interest is Sapphire Star.

Trained by Arthur Silvera, Sapphire Star was purchased for $13,000 at the local yearling sale.

“She seemed to have a lot going against her,” Silvera said. “There was her size, she was listed as a cribber, and she had a hematoma above her knee.

“They were minor negatives, in my eyes, that I could look past.”

Sapphire Star debuted at the $40,000 claiming level here Aug. 5 and was a front-running six-length winner. Her Beyer Speed Figure, a 77, is the best in the Muskoka lineup.

“I definitely thought about the Muskoka before she’d even run, and she’d worked fast,” said Silvera, who trains Sapphire Star for David Rowbotham and partners.

“Paying $13,000 gives you the license to run wherever you want, and that’s where I spotted her.”

Sapphire Star has come back with a pair of solid breezes since her opening victory, and Silvera does not see Monday’s longer distance as an impediment.

“Six and a half furlongs shouldn’t be a problem,” Silvera said. “She finished up her race accelerating away from the field and she had a very good gallop out.

“I’m sure there’ll be some tough fillies in the race, but I think she’s in with a pretty good chance.”