09/16/2013 2:40PM

Woodbine: Da Silva piling up the stakes wins

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Michael Burns
Forte Dei Marmi (No. 2), with Eurico Rosa Da Silva aboard, wins the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Eurico Rosa Da Silva did not have mounts in Sunday’s Woodbine Mile or Canadian Stakes. But Da Silva took care of the other two stakes on the program, capturing the Grade 1, $315,600 Northern Dancer Turf with Forte Dei Marmi and the Grade 3, $171,900 Ontario Derby with His Race to Win.

“Yesterday definitely was very special,” said Da Silva, who was here to breeze horses for clients Monday. “It was the first time I’ve won a Grade 1 here at Woodbine.”

The 38-year-old Da Silva has won 22 stakes races at the meeting, topping his previous high of 17, and leads the local jockey colony with mount earnings of $6.1 million. Da Silva also won two other races Sunday to give him 100 victories at the meeting, 11 fewer than leading rider Luis Contreras.

“I’m thrilled; I’m so happy,” said Da Silva, who began his riding career in his native Brazil and has been a regular here since 2004. “I’m riding for great people. It makes you wake up and look forward to coming here every morning.”

Forte Dei Marmi recorded his third straight stakes win but his first in a Grade 1 in the Northern Dancer Turf for trainer Roger Attfield, who also sent out runner-up Perfect Timber in the 1 1/2-mile race. Joel Rosario had been aboard when Forte Dei Marmi won the Grade 3 Singspiel over the same distance and surface, and Da Silva had ridden the 7-year-old gelding for the first time in the Grade 2 Sky Classic at 1 1/4 miles on the turf course.

Forte Dei Marmi, owned by Stella Perdomo, recorded his 10th win from 32 career starts Sunday and pushed his career bankroll to $1,034,847.

“I don’t think he’s ever been in better form,” said Attfield, who took over as Forte Dei Marmi’s conditioner when the English-bred was purchased privately and arrived here from Europe in September 2011. “Like a lot of older horses who have been doing the game for a while, you’ve got to keep him happy and healthy.”

Minutes after the Northern Dancer Turf, Attfield was being wooed by representatives of the Japan Racing Association, who were extolling the virtues of the Nov. 24 Japan Cup, a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Tokyo Race Course that offers Grade 1 status, a purse of almost $2.8 million, and numerous perks for participants.

“That will be up to the owner,” Attfield said. “It had always been our intention to keep him here and do this series of races for him.”

The jewel of the local long-distance turf program for older horses is the Grade 1, $1 million Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile race in which Forte Dei Marmi ran third last year after finishing third in the Northern Dancer Turf.

The Canadian International, set for Oct. 27, definitely is on the dance card of Perfect Timber.

“That’s always been the aim with him,” said Attfield, who trains the 4-year-old Perfect Timber for owner and breeder Chuck Fipke.

Perfect Timber, who is considerably larger than Forte Dei Marmi, made just his sixth career start in the Northern Dancer Turf after making his career debut at Gulfstream Park in April.

“It’s taken him a bit of time, but I think he knows what’s going on now,” Attfield said. “He’s matured enough that I think he’s at his best. He has a huge, big galloping stride. He doesn’t have the turn of foot like Forte Dei Marmi.”

His Race to Win became a stakes winner in the 1 1/8-mile Ontario Derby for owner and breeder Sam-Son Farm and trainer Malcolm Pierce. The Stormy Atlantic colt also enjoyed a turn in the spotlight previously enjoyed by his stablemate Up With the Birds, a winner of three stakes, including the Breeders’ Stakes, at Woodbine.

“This horse is improving, I think,” Pierce said of His Race to Win. “He was just coming into this race so well. I was pretty happy with the way he exploded once he found a little room.”

The Ontario Derby was the last Polytrack route for 3-year-old males on the Woodbine calendar, and Pierce said he had “no idea” where His Race to Win might resurface.