04/13/2012 1:04PM

Woodbine: Fifty Proof out of sight, but not out of voters' minds

Michael Burns
Fifty Proof is slowly working his way back into racing shape after sustaining a suspensory injury last summer.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Ian Black admitted to being pleasantly surprised when Fifty Proof was named Canada’s champion older male at the 2011 Sovereign Awards ceremony.

“I thought it was a very open category,” said Black, whose horse was a finalist along with Don Cavallo and James Street. “All three finalists had won one stake. But, I was worried that we’d been gone so long and people tend to forget.”

Fifty Proof, owned by David Willmot, John Fielding ,and Ben Hutzel, had won his first two starts of 2011 on the main track, including the Grade 3 Eclipse, and then finished second in back-to-back Grade 2 stakes on the turf when his campaign came to a halt in late July.

“We found a small tear in a suspensory,” said Black. “We just sent him to the farm, and gave him the time.

“The last time we ultrasounded it, in January, it was okay.”

Fifty Proof started up at Willmot’s Kinghaven Farm and trained there for a couple of weeks before shipping to Florida to join Black at Payson Park.

“He never breezed until last weekend, when he got back here,” said Black, who sent out Fifty Proof for an easy three furlongs in 37.20 seconds last Saturday. “He’s good right now, but coming back from a soft tissue injury it’s a work-to-work situation.

Connaught Cup next target for Stormy Lord

Stormy Lord, runner-up in the Sovereign Award voting for champion turf male, arrived back on Woodbine this week after wintering at Payson Park with a stopover at Keeneland.

A winner of four stakes last year for Kinghaven and partners, Stormy Lord had closed out his 4-year-old campaign with a sixth-place finish in Calder’s Tropical Turf Cup and again finished sixth after setting the pace in a turf allowance at Keeneland on April 7.

“It was a very tough race,” said Black. “I gave him a break after he ran at Calder. If I had to do it all over again, I would have run him in a couple more races in Florida and given him a break now.”

Stormy Lord should make his next appearance in the Grade 2, $150,000 Connaught Cup on May 24. The gelding won the Connaught Cup last year in his seasonal bow.

Black wants more distance for Incredicat

Incredicat, a promising 3-year-old colt who is a half-brother to Stormy Lord, also spent the off-season with Black at Payson Park..

Owned by Willmot and partners, Incredicat had won his debut over 5 1/2 furlongs here Dec. 4 and was a solid third when returning to action in a first-level allowance over 6 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream Park on March 24.

“I thought his last race was very good,” said Black. “The thing that amazes me is that he’s such a laid-back horse in the morning but both times he raced as soon as the gates opened he broke like a rocket.

“He got a little tired, going that quick, and he wound up on the inside, which wouldn’t have been our choice.”

Incredicat was nominated to Sunday’s six-furlong Woodstock Stakes but will not be participating.

“I’m going to look to run him seven furlongs, or a mile and a sixteenth,” said Black.

One option could be the April 21 Wando, an open 1 1/16-mile overnight stakes for 3-year-olds which is scheduled for next Saturday but would require a field of at least five to be carded.

The nominees for the Wando, released on Friday, also include Queen’s Plate hopeful Perfect Tay, who was claimed for $75,000 from his first start and is trained by Lorne Richards.

Perfect Tay finished second in that debut, which came over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Gulfstream on Feb. 18, and then came back to win over the same distance and surface in straight maiden company for Richards and the Alberta-based True North Stable.

DePaulo stablemates meet in maiden sprint

Rocky Romano and Campitello, a pair of Queen’s Plate nominees trained by Mike DePaulo, have been entered in a seven-furlong maiden race for 3-year-olds here Sunday.

“I was kind of hoping it might split, but it didn’t happen,” said DePaulo, who trains both 3-year-old colts for owner Frank Romano.

Rocky Romano started twice here last fall, finishing second at seven furlongs and 1 1/16 miles.

“He was a little unlucky,” said DePaulo. “The first time the rider lost an iron leaving the gate, and the second time he got in a bit of trouble.”

Campitello saw action four times with his efforts including a fourth-place finish in the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles of turf and a fifth in the Coronation Futurity over 1 1/8 miles of Polytrack.

“He’s never run this short,” said DePaulo, with reference to Sunday’s seven-furlong distance. “With his pedigree, I figured he’d need two turns all along.

“I just hope that in this race there’ll be some speed for him to run at.”

Rocky Romano and Campitello were turned out at Classic Mile in Florida before joining DePaulo at Gulfstream in mid-February.

“I didn’t think Rocky Romano liked the dirt that much,” said DePaulo. “He just breezed so-so. But he worked well with Campitello here, on the Polytrack.”

Sunday’s 10-horse field also includes Queen’s Plate nominees Stormy Revenge, Woody G, and My Bonnie Boy.

Hank’s HIll wheels back quickly

Hank’s Hill, last year’s leader in races won here with seven victories at the meeting, will be looking to get back on target in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs here Sunday.

A 4-year-old gelding, Hank’s Hill was claimed for $12,500 by trainer Will Armata here last August and recorded five of his wins for the new barn.

Hank’s Hill made his seasonal bow here on opening day, April 6, and closed strongly to finish second in a first-level allowance at five furlongs.

Atlantic Hurricane points to Whimsical

Atlantic Hurricane, Canada’s champion sprinting filly or mare for 2011, is scheduled to make her seasonal bow here in next Sunday’s Whimsical Stakes.

The Whimsical, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

Atlantic Hurricane is trained by Stu Simon, who owns the 5-year-old in partnership with Brent and Russ McClelland and Carl Hollick.

A winner of three stakes after being claimed for $40,000 here last June, Atlantic Hurricane wintered in the Ocala, Fla., area and returned to Woodbine in mid-March.