07/12/2012 1:33PM

Woodbine: Excaper continues comeback in Toronto Cup

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Tom Keyser
Excaper was sidelined for six months with equine protozoal myeloencephalitis.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Excaper will stretch out a furlong Saturday on the Woodbine turf in the $150,000 Toronto Cup Stakes, and judging by the way he relaxed in his last race, the nine furlongs should be within his range.

Excaper could be favored under Emma Wilson, who was aboard when he finished a game second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November at Churchill. After tiring to third in the Dec. 18 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream, Excaper went to the shelf for six months with the neurologic disease equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. Although the disease can be fatal, Excaper was able to recover and he returned to training in spring.

Trainer Ian Black took the blinkers off Excaper for his season opener June 23 in the one-mile Charlie Barley Stakes on the turf. Normally a pace-presser, he mounted a wide rally from fifth to end up second to shipper Hammers Terror.

“With the time off and having had EPM, it was a good effort, really,” Black said. “I took the blinkers off because I thought he would be too sharp, but he almost fell asleep early. He got further out of it than I anticipated he would. I was happy that he relaxed for us. Overall, it was a pretty good race. The winner looks like a nice horse.”

Black said Excaper had a solid breeze last Sunday, when he covered five-eighths in 1:00.40.

“I worked him on the Poly, because I thought the turf was pretty firm on the turf training course,” Black said.

Wilson won the 2008 Toronto Cup on Secret Getaway for trainer Mike Stidham, who supplemented Hammers Terror to this year’s running for $3,000. Patrick Husbands rode Hammers Terror in the Charlie Barley, and has the mount again on Saturday.

Hammers Terror stalked the dueling leaders in the Charlie Barley before taking control in the stretch en route to a 3 3/4-length triumph, his first in a stakes. His time of 1:33.21 translated into a 92 Beyer Figure.

“He left aggressive,” said Husbands. “Two strides out, the other two horses [went] to the lead, and he just relaxed. I was just licking my chops.”

Attendant is exiting a victory in a 10-furlong maiden special on the grass for trainer Mark Frostad, who has won the Toronto Cup seven times.

Mr. Online, who beat $50,000 maidens in his last appearance, is the lone Canadian-bred in the field. He could use this race as a stepping-stone toward the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes here Aug. 5.

Patrioticandproud has done his best running on Polytrack, over which he ran second in the June 10 Victoria Park Stakes.