06/01/2012 1:10PM

Woodbine: Doyle, Graham take another shot at Woodbine Oaks

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Michael Burns
Jockey Justin Stein gives Horseshoe Hill her final Woodbine Oaks work Tuesday, going six furlongs in 1:13.20.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Michael Doyle and owner Bill Graham teamed to win a Woodbine Oaks in 1989 with the 3-2 favorite Blondeinamotel.

On Sunday, Doyle and Graham will be looking to reprise that feat with Horseshoe Hill, who is 20-1 on the morning line.

“She’s doing very well,” said Doyle, who sent out Horseshoe Hill to drill six furlongs in 1:13.20 under jockey Justin Stein here last Sunday. “Justin really liked her.”

Horseshoe Hill, a homebred, broke in the air and finished last of 12 in her debut at five furlongs here last June 25 and was a close sixth when returning five months later at 5 1/2 furlongs.

“She had a chip taken out of her ankle after her first race,” said Doyle, “and when she ran back she was in all kinds of trouble.”

With the end of the meeting here approaching, Doyle and Graham elected to send Horseshoe Hill to New York and trainer Bruce Levine.

“Just before she was going to run down there, she grabbed a quarter, so we brought her home,” Doyle said.

Horseshoe Hill has run three times at the meeting, ending a distant second at five furlongs and then fifth after leading with a furlong remaining in her first try around two turns.

In her most recent start May 12, again at 1 1/6 miles, Horseshoe Hill led throughout on a slow pace and prevailed by three-quarters of a length.

“We’ve been talking about this race for the last couple of weeks,” Doyle said. “There’s only one Oaks.”

Doyle and Graham also have a Queen’s Plate candidate in Peyton, who is among the entrants in Sunday’s $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Peyton, also a Graham homebred, won his maiden at 1 1/16 miles in his last of six starts here as a 2-year-old.

After wintering in Florida, Peyton returned to action here April 15 and was a rallying winner of a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs.

In a subsequent appearance, which came in the seven-furlong Queenston on May 5, Peyton was bumped at the start and rallied wide to finish fifth, just 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

“It was a pretty good race for him,” Doyle said. “He was a long way out of it and wide.

“This longer distance should help. I think he’s dying to go this far.”

Awesome Fire fresh for Oaks

Awesome Fire could be a dark horse in the Woodbine Oaks.

Trained by Nick Gonzalez, Awesome Fire is proven around two turns, having won a first-level allowance at a mile and 70 yards in her fourth of five starts as a 2-year-old.

After winding up that campaign with a third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie, Awesome Fire headed to Florida with a long-term eye toward the Woodbine Oaks.

“That’s pretty well been the plan since the get-go,” said Martha Gonzalez, who acts as her husband’s assistant and oversees the outfit’s day-to-day operation at Woodbine. “She got a little bit behind schedule in Florida; she got a little sick on us. We were hoping to get two races into her down there.”

Awesome Fire did make one start at Gulfstream, but was well beaten in that dirt debut in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs.

“We had a few that didn’t really do that well down at Gulfstream; it was really hot,” Gonzalez said. “But she’s thrived since she got back home. She’s probably the best she’s been since last fall. She’s heading in the right direction.”

Awesome Fire has seen action just once at the meeting, showing some late turn when fourth in the seven-furlong Fury Stakes on April 29.

Team Gonzalez then elected to forego an additional prep race and head straight to the Woodbine Oaks.

“She’s an honest filly, and I’d sooner have her fresh,” Gonzalez said. “One thing about her is she’ll do whatever you want her to do. She relaxes; she’s very rateable. She can just run that last eighth of a mile.”

Emma-Jayne Wilson, who rode stablemate Logan’s Peak in the Fury, will be reunited with the Awesome Fire for the Woodbine Oaks.

“Emma was on her when she won her two races,” Gonzalez said. “She knows her really well.”

Jockey meet-and-greet session

Members of Woodbine’s jockey colony will be on hand from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the north and west entrances for a meet-and-greet session with fans.

The jockeys will be available for autographs and photographs.

Following Sunday’s second race, jockey Steven Bahen will be honored in a public ceremony as the 2012 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award. Presented annually, the award honors the memory of Avelino Gomez, who died following a three-horse spill in the 1980 Woodbine Oaks.

The award is for a person who was born or raised in Canada or who has ridden in the country for at least five years and made significant contributions to the sport.

‘Bet on Us’ promotion

Woodbine will be offering its first “Bet On Us” promotion Sunday.

Patrons can register between 12 and 3 p.m. on the east third floor of the grandstand for a free $2 wager that can be used at any point during the card. The area also will be the site of a grandstand party that runs from 12 to 6 p.m.

TSN Cabbie will host the gathering, along with Woodbine’s Natalie Zak.

Registered guests will automatically be entered inWoodbine’s “Pursue the Purse” contests, which run to Oct. 14, and be eligible to win as much as $20,000. Details are available at woodbineracetrack.com via the Woodbine Oaks marquee.

Bold Ruckus, Victoria Park on deck

Next Saturday’s feature will be the $125,000 Bold Ruckus, a six-furlong turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

Jenna’s Wabbit, winner of two restricted stakes here last year, and the filly Blues Dancing, who captured the restricted Lady Angela in her last start, are among those pointing to the Bold Ruckus.

The $125,000 Victoria Park, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, will be contested next Sunday.

Prospective, back at Woodbine after his Kentucky Derby odyssey that ended with a horrendous trip at Churchill Downs, is the leading candidate. A short field is expected.

◗ Thursdays will be added to the Woodbine schedule this week, with first post set for 2:10 p.m. The Thursday cards will continue through July 12, with the exception of June 28, and then go on hiatus until Sept. 13.