12/03/2012 3:45PM

Woodbine: Fifty Proof going strong

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Michael Burns
If all remains well, Fifty Proof will see action at Gulfstream Park.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – There were many skeptics when Fifty Proof returned from a 16-month layoff last Sunday for the $126,600 Sir Barton Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Fifty Proof was voted Canada’s champion older male of 2011, but his campaign had been cut short after just four starts, and he had been sidelined again this spring when he was gearing up for his return.

Ian Black, who trains the 6-year-old Fifty Proof for David Willmot and partners John Fielding and Ben Hutzel, had expressed some concern over his charge’s state of readiness for the restricted Sir Barton, despite competition that was well below the level of his gelding’s proven ability.

“It was a concern, but I’m not a big worrier,” said Black, after watching Fifty Proof lead throughout the Sir Barton and score by 1 1/4 lengths in a solid effort under regular rider Justin Stein.

“My biggest concern is that he’s fine tomorrow morning.”

Black had good news on that front as he dropped by the barn on Monday morning before setting out for the drive to Florida and Payson Park, where he will have six horses this winter.

“All’s well,” said assistant trainer Jeff Bowen. “He’s great.”

If all remains well, then Fifty Proof will see action at Gulfstream Park, with turf racing being his preference.

“I think he’s equally as good on turf or synthetic, but he’s never run on the dirt and he never really handled dirt at Payson Park,” said Black.

“I think his best distance on turf is probably a mile and an eighth to a mile and a quarter. He’s run well here in the Northern Dancer and the Canadian International, at a mile and a half, but I think the slow paces make them go further than they should.”

Pyrite Mountain scores a double

Pyrite Mountain hit a couple of early milestones here last Sunday, breaking his maiden and becoming a stakes winner to boot in the $125,800 Kingarvie for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

Now, after prevailing in the Kingarvie by the slimmest of noses under jockey Patrick Husbands despite getting caught out wide around the clubhouse turn, Pyrite Mountain is winding up his first campaign with respectable credentials.

“I think he’s a decent horse”, said Mark Frostad, who trains Pyrite Mountain for a Stronach Stable-formed partnership racing under the cumbersome moniker of Awesome Again Racing Limited Partners.

“He has a great stride, and a great attitude. I think he’ll go longer”

Pyrite Mountain, a $50,000 purchase at the local select yearling sale, was making just his second career start in the Kingarvie after closing strongly to finish second, beaten a head, in an open seven-furlong maiden race here Nov. 4.

“I had to start him there,” said Frostad, noting that an Ontario-sired option for Pyrite Mountain would have come too close to the Kingarvie.

Pyrtie Mountain now will be heading to Florida, where Frostad has 25 stalls at Palm Meadows.

“I’ll give him an easy month or six weeks, and then get back into him,” said Frostad. “I plan to run him down there.”

Frostad’s Palm Meadows contingent for Stronach connections also includes Inglorious Song, for the Awesome Again party, and County Lineman, for Ginger Punch Racing.

Inglorious Song, purchased for $47,000 at the local select yearling sale, finished sixth when debuting here last Sunday in a difficult open maiden race.

County Lineman, knocked down for $30,000 at the same sale, closed strongly to finish second, beaten a length, in an Ontario-sired maiden race at six furlongs here Nov. 18 and came back to breeze five furlongs in 1:02.40 here last Saturday.

Carroll colt holds promise

Avie’s Quality put an exclamation mark on his first campaign with an emphatic 1 1/4-length victory under rider Luis Contreras here in last Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Display Stakes.

And the fashion in which Avie’s Quality disposed of his eight opponents suggested that there could be much more to come as the colt heads into his 3-year-old season for trainer Josie Carroll.

“This is a good horse,” said Carroll, who trains Avie’s Quality for owner and co-breeder Ivan Dalos. “For a young horse, I was very impressed with the way he sprinted home.”

Avie’s Quality, a Kentucky-bred who is by Elusive Quality out of E.P. Taylor Stakes winner Fly for Avie, had shown promise when closing to finish third and then second in his first two starts but put it all together when racing with blinkers for the first time here Nov. 14.

“He needed the blinkers on, to focus a little better,” said Carroll, who had watched Avie’s Quality explode down the lane to score by five lengths in that 1 1/16-mile race.

“He had a bit of a habit of laying on top of horses. He needed to get his head in the right direction.”

Avie’s Quality, now a stakes winner with a new career high Beyer Speed Figure of 91, is scheduled to leave on Thursday for Palm Meadows, where Carroll will have 13 horses with assistant Laurie Allen.

“We’ll make some plans from there,” said Carroll. “He’s a horse who’s just figuring out how to run.”

Tesseron getting a break

Tesseron, a talented Kentucky-bred 2-year-old whom Carroll trains for Donna and Vern Dubinsky, will be getting a bit of a breather at Palm Meadows while his itinerary is plotted.

“We’ll probably back off him a bit, for the month of December,” said Carroll.

Tesseron was a winner over one mile and 70 yards at first asking and then ran second in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Shipped to Churchill Downs for his last start, Tesseron was beaten 2 1/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, a 1 1/16-mile race that was won by multiple stakes winner Uncaptured.

“He really impressed me there,” said Carroll. “He was in tight, and took a little bit of dirt in his face. He was so professional – he just got a little tired.”

Barn goes far and wide

Carroll will be racking up the frequent-flyer miles with another six horses currently in Florida at Gulfstream Park, 22 stalls at the Fair Grounds, and Inglorious at Hollywood Park.

Assistant trainer Ruth Schmidt is in charge of a Fair Grounds contingent, which currently includes stakes winners James Street and Mullins Beach plus the stakes-placed Drago’s Best.

Leinan, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old filly who won the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes in her last start here for owners Jim and Alice Sapara, is among the Carroll trainees at Gulfstream.

“We’ll see how she breezes on the dirt there, and probably breeze on the grass, before we make up our minds what we’re going to do with her,” said Carroll.

Inglorious is slated to run in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Bayaoka, a 1 1/16-mile stakes race for fillies and mares.

Mike Smith, who has the call for the Bayakoa, was in the irons when Inglorious breezed five furlongs in 1:04.80 over Hollywood’s synthetic surface last Saturday.

“She finished up strong, and galloped out strong, which is what we wanted her to do” said Carroll.

◗ Jockey Quincy Welch is through for the year after sustaining a separated shoulder during training hours last Wednesday morning.

The 34-year-old Welch, who relocated from Alberta in 2011, won 15 races at Woodbine plus another six at Fort Erie this season. His mounts earned almost $1 million.

Welch’s agent, Steve Roberts, reports that Welch is heading home to Edmonton to spend the winter with his family.

◗ Jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan will be serving the final day of a three-day suspension here Wednesday after being granted an exemption to ride in stakes races at Gulfstream last Saturday and Sunday.