05/30/2012 1:50PM

Woodbine: Frostad has new approach to Oaks

Michael Burns
Irish Mission was a $375,000 auction purchase.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Frostad saddled three winners of the Woodbine Oaks during his days with Sam-Son Farm, which began in 1994 and ended this spring.

On Sunday, Frostad will be looking to take down a Woodbine Oaks in his new guise as a public trainer when he sends out Irish Mission for the $500,000, 1 1/8 mile-race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Irish Mission, owned by Robert S. Evans, was purchased from Sam-Son for $375,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale in August of 2010.

Her dam, Misty Mission, won the 2000 Wonder Where Stakes for Frostad, who remembers that race for more than one reason.

“She cost me a triple tiara,” said Frostad, who had won the Woodbine Oaks and Fort Erie’s Bison City Stakes with Catch the Ring when that series offered a $250,000 bonus.

Misty Mission, entered to ensure an honest pace for Catch the Ring in the Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles on turf, wound up winning the race by 2 1/2 lengths while leaving her Sam-Son stablemate in second place.

“It probably made her worth a lot more money for money for the owners than winning the triple tiara would have,” said Frostad.

The Wonder Where turned out to be the last in a brief three-start career that spanned less than two months for Misty Mission.

“She had one very crooked leg,” said Frostad. “For her to get that far was amazing. Every time you took her out, you wondered.”

Misty Mission has already made her mark as a broodmare with French Beret, a durable gelding who won three stakes and placed in nine others while banking $701,865 through a 41-start career for Sam-Son and Frostad.

And now Irish Mission, who was unplaced in four starts here at 2 but was beaten just three lengths as the fifth-place finisher in the Princess Elizabeth over 1 1/16 miles, will be looking to make her presence felt in her local seasonal debut.

“She’s a much stronger filly this year,” said Frostad. “She’s 17 hands. She was just a big, gangly filly last year.

“She needed some experience, and she’s got that now. She’s much more competitive, much more aggressive.”

Irish Mission has raced three times this season, winning her maiden over 1 3/16 miles on turf at Keeneland after being beaten a neck there at 1 /8 miles on the same surface as the runner-up behind Left A Message, who came back to double up in a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs.

”She won’t have any trouble with the [Woodbine Oaks] distance, and I think she’ll be fine back on the Poly,” said Frostad, who has enlisted Alex Solis to ride Misty Mission on Sunday.

“She’s doing good.”

Frostad welcomed two new shooters into the barn last week as the 4-year-old Irish-bred fillies Chokurei and Azaameera, most recently of Dubai, checked in after fulfilling their quarantine requirements in New York.

Chokurei won three races on turf and one on a synthetic surface while campaigning in England last year for trainer Clive Cox.

Azameera was a three-time winner on the turf in England for trainer Ernst Oertel.

Bay to Bay, who would have been one of the leading contenders for Saturday’s Grade 2 Nassau Stakes and also was under consideration for Belmont’s Grade 1 Just A Game on July 9, has been retired to the breeding shed.

“She has a suspensory injury,” said Brian Lynch, who trained Bay to Bay for owner Rob Smithen.

“It cropped up after her turf work last week. It’s not really bad. Given the time, you could get her back to a competitive level.

“But she’s 5 years old, and she’s been very good to us.”

Bred in Florida, Bay to Bay compiled a record of 4 wins, 7 seconds and 2 thirds for earnings of $749,699 from 17 career starts.

Her successes included stakes wins here in the Grade 3 Natalma and last year’s Nassau plus and the American 1000 Guineas at Arlington Park, all over one mile on turf.

Bay to Bay also finished second in six stakes, including Keeneland’s Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in what turned out to be her last career start,, and third in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga.

The setback was the second in recent weeks for Smithen, whose multiple stakes-winning 4-year-old filly Anne’s Beauty had to be retired after emerging from the May 19 Hendrie Stakes with a ruptured tendon.

Shakespeare’s Brew has setback

Shakespeare’s Brew, who was a vet scratch from a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles here last Sunday, is off the Queen’s Plate trail.

“He had a minor setback,” said Kevin Attard, who trains Shakespeare’s Brew for Jason and Frank Justice.

“It would be nice to make it back for the Toronto Cup.”

The $150,000 Toronto Cup, an open 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, will be run here July 14.

Shakespeare’s Brew won first crack out over six furlongs of turf here last August and returned with a second-place finish behind the speedy shipper Doctor Chit in a first-level allowance over seven furlongs of Polytrack here May 12.

Hard Not to Like ‘sharp’

Hard Not to Like, in her first breeze since finishing a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Oaks on May 4, was clocked in 47.20 seconds on the main track here Tuesday with her trainer, Gail Cox, in the irons.

“She was very good, very sharp,” said Cox.

Hard Not to Like, owned and bred by Garland Williamson, also was a leading contender for the Woodbine Oaks, but her connections opted to head straight to the Queen’s Plate following her taxing Kentucky Oaks effort.

“She’ll have two more breezes before the Plate,” said Cox. “We’ll have the luxury of spacing them out, if we want to.”

◗ Jockey agent Coffee John Calleja, has returned to the backstretch and will be representing journeyman Emile Ramsammy.

Neal Wilson, who books mounts for Justin Stein, also had been Ramsammy’s agent and the parting was by mutual agreement.

◗ A Woodbine Oaks handicapping seminar will take place here Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m. on the third floor of the grandstand.

A panel comprised of Richard Mauntah, from the Toronto Sun; Keith McCalmont, of Woodbine’s media communications department; and yours truly, Bill Tallon, will discuss the Woodbine Oaks and Plate Trial plus other local weekend races. Jeff Bratt, of Woodbine’s television department, will be the moderator.