09/24/2012 1:15PM

Woodbine: Expensive youngster Northern Lion making debut


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Northern Lion, a pricey $625,000 2-year-old purchase by prominent owner John Oxley, debuts in Wednesday’s fourth race at Woodbine, a six-furlong maiden special for 2-year-olds.

Northern Lion ran an eighth of a mile in a rapid 10 seconds in his pre-sale work at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida sale in March. He subsequently worked at the Ocala Training Center before joining trainer Mark Casse’s local string in August and has breezed four times on the Polytrack. He worked a half-mile from the gate in 49 seconds here Sept. 9.

Northern Lion is a handsome son of the red-hot Lion Heart, who is the sire of Uncaptured, an unbeaten 2-year-old currently campaigned by Oxley and Casse.

Leading trainer Casse also entered Sky Commander in the fourth race.

Sky Commander failed to show much in his first two starts, which were both on the dirt, at Churchill Downs and Saratoga. He appeared to find his calling on the grass Aug. 25, when he ran third in the allowance prep for the Summer Stakes, from which the top two finishers both exited to place in a Grade 2 stakes.

Leading rider Patrick Husbands was named on both Northern Lion and Sky Commander, who are coupled.

Malbec, a $250,000 juvenile purchase at Keeneland, has started three times and should be among the favorites.

Malbec was a front-running second in his debut and then checked in third behind the talented Are You Kidding Me in another Polytrack sprint. He was forwardly placed most recently on the grass, before flattening out in the final furlong to end up fifth.

Gerry Olguin will ride Malbec for trainer Stuart Simon.

Bellamy Fleet dueled up front along inside over an outside-biased track before fading to seventh in his better-than-it-looked opener Aug. 26.

Kitten Candy was beaten 3 1/4 lengths when sixth after a five-wide trip when he debuted in a five-furlong maiden special Aug. 19. The fourth- and eighth-place finishers both came right back to graduate, and Kitten Candy, a son of Candy Ride, is bred to be a late-bloomer.

More Zip improved second-time out Sept. 9, when he added Lasix and wound up third after flashing speed in a $32,000 sprint.

Completing the fourth-race field are first-time starters Clearly Now and Sweet Little Man.

Clearly Now breezed a half-mile Sept. 9 in 48.60 from the gate for trainer Brian Lynch. His freshman sire, Horse Greeley, is 0 for 11 with 2-year-old first-timers.