11/18/2011 3:20PM

Woodbine: Delightful Mary shows top form in return

Michael Burns
Delightful Mary, with Luis Contreras up, wins in her return to the races.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Delightful Mary, who was Canada’s champion juvenile filly of 2010, made a smashing return to action here Thursday afternoon.

Making her first appearance in more than seven months, Delightful Mary trounced older fillies and mares while knocking out her third allowance condition. Her three-length win at 6 1/2 furlongs netted a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 87.

“That’s pretty good, especially considering the layoff,” said Mark Casse, who trains the Florida-bred Delightful Mary for owner John Oxley.

“I was amazed when she got back to the winner’s circle. She didn’t even take a deep breath after the race.”

Delightful Mary, whose last start had been a seventh-place finish in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Ashland back on April 9, had been entered here in the July 30 Duchess but was scratched.

“I was just really unhappy with the way she was carry her weight, and her attitude was really sour,” said Casse. “She didn’t look the way I thought she should.

“She’d been in training over the winter, trying to make the Kentucky Oaks. She didn’t run there but we’d kept her in training but she wasn’t really going anywhere, with no particular target.”

Casse and Oxley decided to give Delightful Mary some down time at nearby TNT Farm, the training center where he is a major presence.

“She was there for a couple of months, and galloped there for a little bit,” said Casse. “She grew up a lot over that period – she actually got a little taller and longer. She’s moving better and has a better attitude“

Casse and Oxley will consider the $300,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff, a 1 1/8-mile race for Florida-bred fillies and mares at Gulfstream on Jan. 28, as a potential goal for Delightful Mary.

“I’m not sure if she wants to go that far,” said Casse. “We’ll have to talk about it.”

Dixie Strike breezes

Dixie Strike, a Canadian-bred who Casse trains for Oxley, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20 here Friday morning with an eye toward the Dec. 3 Ontario Lassie Stakes.

“She worked really well,” said Casse, who had sent out Dixie Strike to finish second behind Rose and Shine in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies here Oct. 29.

The $150,000 Ontario Lassie, for Ontario-foaled fillies at 1 1/16 miles, will be run here on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Blue Heart, who had finished third as the favorite in the Princess Elizabeth after winning the open Mazarine at 1 1/16 miles, breezed furlongs in 48.60 here seconds Friday and also is on target for the Ontario Lassie.

Brian Lynch trains Blue Heart for John and Sally Amerman.

Rose and Shine also is among the 20 nominees for the Ontario Lassie.

Valedictory attracts 17

A total of 17 horses have been nominated to the $150,000 Valedictory, a 1 3/4-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward that is the longest stakes race of the meeting and will offer Grade 3 status for the first time.

Eagle Poise and Eye of the Leopard, the 1-2 finishers in the 1 5/8-mile allowance prep here Nov. 11, should be renewing acquaintances in the Valedictory, which is the traditional closing-day feature.

The start of the prep had been held up when Eagle Poise, reported to the paddock improperly shod and became distressed and unruly when paddock blacksmith Tony Guilmette attempted to file down the toe grabs, which are not permitted here.

Guilmette wound up having to remove Eagle Poise’s hind shoes, and the horse did not come onto the racetrack until five minutes past the scheduled post time. In the meantime, the riders of the other starters had remained on their mounts on the racetrack.

Mark Frostad, who trains Eye of the Leopard for Sam-Son Farm, appealed the result on the grounds that his horse had been disadvantaged because he carried his weight longer than Eagle Poise.

The stewards dismissed Frostad’s appeal, but Eagle Poise’s trainer, Graham Motion (who was not present), was fined $100

Two mares to breed in Australia

Portside and Jazzy Jessy, both of whom were purchased privately by owner and bloodstock agent Warren Byrne over the winter and raced here with trainer Barbara Minshall, will be pursuing careers as broodmares in Australia.

“I do a lot of business in Australia,” said Byrne. “Over the past several years they have been progressively more active in the North American market.

“The economics of racing in Australia are quite good and their economy has been relatively stable.”

Portside, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old, won the six-furlong Star Shoot Stakes here in her first start for Minshall and already is in the land Down Under, in foal to Shellscrape.

Jazzy Jessy, winner of the Happy Ticket over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Louisiana Downs last September, won a starter allowance here over 1 1/4 miles on turf for Minshall. A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, she is slated to go to Australia in January and to be bred next fall, with her mate not yet chosen.

Southdale gone South American

Southdale, who enjoyed a successful racing career here for owner/breeder Rod Ferguson and trainer Ian Black, also has found a home in a far-flung locale.

“He went to Peru, about a month ago,” said Black. “He’s gone down to stand at stud.”

Southdale had been slated to retire last fall but could not generate any interest as a stallion in the Ontario market despite being a two-time graded stakes winner of four races and $417,160.

Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, a bloodstock agent and the racing manager for Robert S. Evans, brokered the Southdale to South America deal.

◗ Trainer Paul Buttigieg added to his broodmare band last week when purchasing Black Hills Goldie, a 7-year-old Florida-bred, for $70,000 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Black Hills Goldie is by Black Minnaloushe and out of World of Gold, whose offspring include Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Dakota Phone. Buttigieg plans to breed Black Hills Goldie to Uncle Mo.

◗ The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club will be holding its final meeting of the season beginning at 7 p.m. here on Wednesday evening. The gathering will take place in the third-floor Champions area.