11/09/2011 1:06PM

Woodbine: Court of the Realm seeks to salvage season in Autumn


ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Court of the Realm appeared to have as much upside as any horse on the grounds when he began his 4-year-old campaign here at Woodbine this past spring. On Saturday, Court of the Realm will be looking to regain some lost luster in the Grade 2, $150,000 Autumn, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and upward.

After extending his winning streak to five while making a successful stakes debut in the Grade 2 King Edward over one mile of turf in his second start of the season here June 25, Court of the Realm was being heralded as a serious prospect for the Woodbine Mile.

But the bubble burst when Court of the Realm finished sixth of seven in the Seagram Cup over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack and evaporated when the colt ended last of 12 following a troubled stretch run in the Play the King at seven furlongs on the turf.

“He got hit hard by another horse there,” said Peter Berringer, who trains Court of the Realm for the Oxbridge Farm of Ming Fong and Sandra Albus and the Aurora Meadows stable of his mother, Joan Berringer. “His ribs were bothering him afterwards.”

Berringer gave Court of the Realm one more shot at proceeding to the Woodbine Mile, sending out the colt for a four-furlong breeze two weeks after the June 25 Play the King, but the symptoms persisted.

“We took him to the clinic, and they said the only way he was going to get better was with time,” said Berringer. “So we turned him out in September, for about a month, while his ribs healed.”

Court of the Realm, who was back at Woodbine on Oct. 5, apparently benefited from his time on Berringer’s farm in nearby Rockwood.

“He seems back to himself. His ribs don’t seem to be bothering him,” said Berringer. “If they had, he would have gone straight back home. He put weight back on at home, too, and he’s kept it on. He seems back to himself.”

Court of the Realm has breezed four times leading up to the Autumn with his most recent six-furlong moves clocked in 1:13.40 and 1:13.80 under jockey Emile Ramsammy.

“He’s training like he was earlier,” said Berringer.

Court of the Realm also will be racing without Lasix after using the medication in his last two outings.

“He did bleed in the King Edward, but Lasix wasn’t the issue in those two starts,” said Berringer. “We’re going back to what he did everything right with, start from square one again.”

Stunning Stag takes third shot at Autumn

The Autumn has attracted a competitive field of 10, headed by City Wolf and James Street, the one-two finishers in the Grade 3, $150,000 Durham Cup over 1 1/8 miles here Oct. 2.

Also entered in the Autumn are Artic Fern, Hotep, Mobilizer, Pender Harbour, Straight Story, Stunning Stag, and Unbridled Kimanchi.

Stunning Stag, trained by Sid Attard, will be making his third appearance in the Autumn after finishing a close second in 2008 and winning impressively last year.

But whereas Stunning Stag had come into the 2010 Autumn off a victory three weeks earlier in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep which had followed a third-place finish here in the 1 1/8-mile Durham Cup, the 7-year-old gelding will be starting for the first time in nine weeks on Saturday.

“I couldn’t get him into a race,” said Attard, who had entered Stunning Stag in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Durham Cup and in the seven-furlong Mt. Sassafras, an overnight stakes for Ontario-foals at seven furlongs, only to see both races scrapped due to lack of entries.

Attard already had chosen to bypass the Durham Cup on the grounds that the 1 1/8 miles was slightly beyond Stunning Stag’s optimum trip.

“I wish I’d run him there now,” said Attard. “Even if he’d been in the money, he didn’t have to win.”

The bottom line is that Stunning Stag will be racing for the first time since ending third in the Sept. 9 Presque Isle Downs Mile, a race in which he also had ended third last year.

Attard does have the not inconsiderable consolation of knowing that Stunning Stag has run exceptionally well off a layoff, winning his first out of 2010 in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Eclipse Stakes and his first of this season in the seven-furlong Vigil.

“He loves to run fresh,” said Attard.

Artic Fern stretches out

Artic Fern, who also had been entered in both the Autumn prep and the Mt. Sassafras, ended up in the Oct. 30 allowance prep for the six-furlong Kennedy Road Stakes and finished a non-threatening sixth in the field of eight.

“They kind of ran him off his feet last time,” said trainer Mike Keogh, noting that the pace had been much faster than any which Artic Fern had previously encountered. “It looked like he maybe wasn’t getting hold of the track, either. His tail started swinging, on the turn. I really don’t know; it’s a mystery.”

Artic Fern, who had become a stakes winner in the six-furlong King Corrie two starts back, will be trying two turns for the first time this season but was perfect in two starts at 1 1/16 miles in his 3-year-old campaign.

Attfield ships out pair for turf stakes

Trainer Roger Attfield was accepting numerous belated congratulations for his Breeders’ Cup win with Perfect Shirl as he watched his horses train here Wednesday morning.

The stable’s workers included Mekong Melody and Smart Sting. Both breezed four furlongs under exercise rider Darren Fortune and then shipped out for stakes engagements this Saturday.

Mekong Melody was headed for Aqueduct and the Grade 3, $150,000 Long Island, a 1 1/2-mile turf race which she won last year.

Smart Sting has been entered in the Grade 3, $175,000 Mrs. Revere, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.

Attfield himself will be staying at Woodbine to saddle Mobilizer for the Autumn.

Oregon Lady also breezed four furlongs for Attfield with jockey Patrick Husbands in the irons. Winner of the River Memories over one mile of soft going in her last start, Oregon Lady is being pointed for Calder’s Grade 3, $100,000 My Charmer over 1 1/8 miles of turf on Nov. 24.