09/15/2011 12:55PM

Woodbine: Frostad, Attfield have runners in all three Sunday stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine will be offering a turf stakes triple header of the $1 million Woodbine Mile, $500,000 Northern Dancer and $300,000 Canadian on Sunday. And, perhaps not surprisingly considering their local histories, the only trainers with starters in all three races are Mark Frostad and Roger Attfield.

Frostad’s contestants will be Grand Adventure in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, Hotep in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer, and Stars to Shine, Forest Uproar, and Magic Broomstick in the Grade 2 Canadian.

Attfield will be slightly busier with Hollinger and Forte dei Marmi entered in the Woodbine Mile, Simmard in the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer, and Miss Keller, Mekong Melody, and Perfect Shirl in the 1 1/8-mile Canadian.

Frostad has won the Woodbine Mile twice, with Soaring Free in 2004 and with Quiet Resolve via a disqualification in 1999.

His contestant this year, Grand Adventure, is a 5-year-old Sam-Son Farm homebred who will be making his third appearance in the Woodbine Mile after finishing ninth in 2009 and eighth last year.

“I think he’s coming in better than last year, although his record is not very good,” said Frostad. “He’s had some excuses, had some bad trips, so we’ll see what happens.”

Grand Adventure is winless in four starts this year, all in stakes, with his latest being a troubled sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Play the King over seven furlongs of turf.

Attfield will be looking for his first win in the Woodbine Mile but both Hollinger and Forte dei Marmi rank as longshots in Sunday’s running.

Hollinger, who was undefeated in four starts as Canada’s champion 2-year-old male in 2009, was sidelined by back problems after two unproductive outings last year and is winless in four more this season.

“All I know is that the horse is as good as he’s ever been,” said Attfield. “Whether he’s good enough for these, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

“He’s doing very, very well. He had a very good work last week.”

Forte dei Marmi checked into Woodbine following a flight from Amsterdam on Tuesday evening and Attfield laid eyes upon the 5-year-old gelding for the first time late Wednesday morning.

“He looks like a neat little horse; everything’s fine with him,” said Attfield.

Trained in England by Luca Cumani, Forte dei Marmi is 5 for 15 but has not competed at the top levels.

“It looks like the Mile is going to be a tough race for him,” said Attfield.

Northern Dancer lures three Grade 2 winners

Frostad won the Niagara, which was the previous incarnation of the Northern Dancer, on six occasions but not since the name was changed in 2006.

Hotep, who will be his representative on Sunday, will be an outsider in a field which includes Grade 2 turf stakes winners Bourbon Bay, Al Khali, and Wigmore Hall.

“I think he’ll give a good account,” said Frostad. “He’s had two starts now this year and I don’t think the distance will be a problem. He’s bred to run all day.”

Hotep’s longest race to date came here last year in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate, where he finished second.

In his two starts this year, which were his first on turf, Hotep ended a close fourth in the seven-furlong Ontario Jockey Club and was second, beaten a neck, in the 1 1/8-mile With Approval. Both races were overnight stakes for Ontario-foals.

“You’ve got to step up once in a while, and find out where you stand,” said Frostad.

Attfield, looking for his first Northern Dancer score, has Simmard but Musketier, who was scheduled to represent the barn, has been sidelined.

“He colicked last night,” said Attfield, on Thursday morning.“He’s in a holding pattern now, at the clinic. They’re hoping they don’t have to operate.

“He’s had soundness issues but he’d never had a sick day in his life, since I’ve had him.”.

Simmard, a 6-year-old, finished a close fourth here in the Grade 3 Singspiel over 1 1/2 miles of turf and then journeyed to Saratoga for a fourth-place finish in the John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles on the grass.

“He appears to be doing very well,” said Attfield. “He’s knocking on the door all the time. He’s not getting beat very far, but he’s not picking it up too much.”

In addition to Hotep and Simmard, other locally-based runners in the Northern Dancer field are Hailstone, Seaside Retreat, and Laureate Conductor.

Shared Account tops wide-open Canadian

The Canadian has drawn a highly contentious field of 14 headed by Shared Account, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs, and Zagora, who captured Saratoga’s Grade 1 Diana in her latest.

Hooh Why, a 5-year-old, scored in Keeneland’s 2009 Ashland and is a third Grade 1 winner in the lineup.

Never Retreat and Bay to Bay, the one-two finishers here in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly over 1 1/8 miles of turf July 10, also are serious contenders along with the Grade 3 stakes winner Fantasia and the improving Apple Charlotte.

But Frostad, who won the Canadian with Skytrial in 1998, likes the chances of each of his runners in this year’s edition.

“Magic Broomstick’s first start was very impressive,” said Frostad, who sent out the 5-year-old to win an open allowance race for fillies and mares over one mile of turf by 8 1/2 lengths.

That appearance was the first in almost nine months for Magic Broomstick, who has raced just 11 times in all and finished third when making her stakes debut in last year’s Canadian.

“I entered her in the Canadian prep, but it didn’t go,” said Frostad. “Hopefully, the one start will have her tight enough.”

Stars to Shine became a stakes winner last time out in the Belle Mahone, an overnight stakes over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack, after finishing a troubled fifth in the Dance Smartly.

“She’s doing very well,” said Frostad. “She ran a huge race last time, but she runs well on either surface.”

Forest Uproar, who won a minor stakes on the turf at the Fair Grounds this winter, is coming off a second-place finish here in the Belle Geste, a seven-furlong overnight turf stakes for Ontario foals.

“She’s been solid all year, and she seems to be getting back on track,” said Frostad. “She had a rough trip in the Dance Smartly, too. It was a roughly-run race, with the rail way out.”

Attfield has won the Canadian on three occasions and will be seeking a repeat with 2010 victress Miss Keller.

Although she has failed to finish better than fourth in five subsequent starts, Miss Keller might have tipped her hand last Sunday when she breezed five furlongs on the training turf course in 57.60 seconds.

“She’s doing wonderfully well,” said Attfield. “I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t run a huge race.”

Mekong Melody, winner of the Grade 3 Long Island over 1 1/2 miles of Aqueduct turf in her 2010 finale, has been blanked in four starts this year but had troubled trips in her last two appearances at Saratoga.

“I’m happy with where she’s at,” said Attfield. “She’s easier to read than Miss Keller, who’s a very temperamental young lady. Mekong’s just solid.”

Perfect Shirl is returning to the turf after finishing third when making her first Polytrack appearance since July of 2010 in the 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone here Aug. 20.

“She appears to be rounding into good form,” said Attfield.

“I feel quite good about running all three of them.”

Joining the Frostad and Attfield runners and Bay to Bay on the home team for the Canadian will be the front-running Woolly Bear.