10/01/2012 1:50PM

Woodbine: Crysta's Court gives Nixon a milestone win


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Justin Nixon is no stranger to a good horse.

During the days when Nixon trained for Frank Stronach, primarily in the northeastern United States, his charges included stakes winners High Blitz, Jungle Fighter, Media Play, Powerful Touch, Spanish Lullaby, and Royal Regalia, who also came up just three-quarters of a length shy of a Grade 1 victory when third in the 2004 Woodbine Mile.

Nixon's association with Team Stronach ended in 2009, however, and the 43-year-old trainer now does business here at Woodbine with a stable of eight and at Fort Erie with six runners.

All of which brings us to last Saturday's $125,000 Victorian Queen, in which Nixon recorded his first Woodbine stakes victory when Crysta's Court rallied for a one-length win at 40-1 under rider Luis Contreras.

By Silent Name, Crysta's Court was making her fourth start and winning for the first time in the six-furlong Victorian Queen, which was for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.

Jayson Horner, under the nom du course JMC's Racing Stable, owns Crysta's Court and is a co-breeder of the filly.

"I train a horse for him, Northern Hunter, at Fort Erie," Nixon said. "We'd talked this spring, and he said had an Ontario-sired 2-year-old filly by Silent Name. I told him I thought Silent Name had a chance to be a real good stallion."

Crysta's Court learned her early lessons with trainer Curtis Garrison at Ed Seltzer's Solera Farm in the Ocala, Fla., area.

"She came in very well prepared," Nixon said. "From the first time I took her out, she was always very professional, not green. She trained forwardly. She's no bigger than a Shetland pony, but she's very solid. She has a bit of nastiness to her; that's what makes her good."

Crysta's Court showed promise in her early races, finishing third and then second in five-furlong maiden dashes for Ontario-sired maiden fillies. Facing open filly company in her third appearance, Crysta's Court was beaten a length as the third-place finisher in a seven-furlong race that had been scheduled for turf but was switched to the main track.

"We weren't disappointed," Nixon said. "Obviously, you like to win, but we were very happy with her all along."

Nixon was hoping for a restricted turf race for Ontario-sired fillies for Crysta's Courts next appearance, but when none materialized he was happy to switch to the Victorian Queen.

"Jayson said he would really like to get some black type on her," Nixon said. "He still owns the mare. It worked out well."
That statement applied to both the planning and execution as Crysta's Court did not break nearly as sharply as she had in her early appearances.

"She broke awkwardly and was squeezed back," Nixon said. "That actually benefited her. It was nice that she settled very well, and Luis rode an excellent race. He didn't panic."

The $125,000 South Ocean, a 1 1/16-mile race here Nov. 18 that is the final stakes of the meeting for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies, now becomes a long-term target for Crysta's Court.

"I think she'll go two turns," Nixon said. "She ran seven furlongs very well."

Long-distance Clarinet's best game

Clarinet, making her first start in almost four months and her debut for trainer Josie Carroll, became a stakes winner here last Saturday in the $100,000 Flaming Page at about 1 1/2 miles on the turf course with Eurico Rosa da Silva in the saddle.

"I've had her for a few months and I've really been waiting to go long enough with her," said Carroll, who trains Clarinet for owner Earle Mack. "She's clearly a horse who wanted to go long. Obviously, I was a little concerned about the mile and a half off the layoff, but she's a filly who trains really hard. The further she goes, the fitter she gets. She really gets herself ready."

Clarinet was making her 10th start, with her most recent win having come in a second-level allowance over 1 1/2 miles of turf at Keeneland on Oct. 16, 2010. The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old raced just once in 2011, and the Flaming Page was her fourth outing of this season.