08/09/2013 12:24PM

Woodbine: Go Greeley the big horse in Vandal Stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The imposing Go Greeley should be favored in Sunday’s $150,000 Vandal Stakes at Woodbine. The six-furlong sprint for Ontario-bred 2-year-olds has brought together an excellent field that also includes the well-regarded Matador and the Chicago shipper Heart to Heart.

After graduating at first asking May 19, Go Greeley was beaten a nose after an awkward trip from post 1 in the July 7 Clarendon Stakes. He subsequently took the six-furlong Colin Stakes, after setting rapid fractions under Eurico Rosa Da Silva.

Trainer John Ross said Go Greeley missed 10 days of training in June because the colt was in quarantine due to a minor outbreak of equine herpesvirus on the backstretch.

Ross said that Go Greeley “needed” the Clarendon, “and came back with a race that really showed his fitness level.”

In every previous race, the trainer noted, “he had to take back and make a run, so I told Da Silva to get him out of the gate better, so he wouldn’t have to take back. He got out of the gate better, but I didn’t expect him to go right up on the lead in 44 and change. He was able to do a little free running. It worked out better for us.”

Ross said he has the Aug. 28 Simcoe Stakes in mind next for Go Greeley, so he worked him an easy five-eighths in 1:02 last Saturday.

“It was a nice, even work,” Ross said. “He’s a big, strong, happy, healthy horse. He’s full of himself. If I didn’t go in the Vandal, I’d have to work him a good three-quarters, anyway.”

The unraced Matador is owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse, the same connections who won last year’s Vandal with Uncaptured, who was eventually crowned the Canadian Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old.

Matador, a son of Malibu Moon, was a $150,000 yearling purchase.

“He’s been at the top of the class since the beginning,” Casse said. “We’ve had some issues with his shins, but they’re good now.”

Go Greeley, Casse conceded, “has the seasoning, so he’ll be tough to beat, but we want to get him started. We think he’s one of our stars.”

In his last work, Matador breezed five-eighths in a bullet 59.60 seconds with the older stakes winner Laugh Track. It was the fastest of 37 Polytrack drills at the distance here Aug. 2.

“He was going as easy as Laugh Track was,” Casse recalled. “I think that tells you something.”

Heart to Heart, trained by Mike Stidham, earned a 76 Beyer Speed Figure for romping in his only start, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special over Arlington’s Polytrack on July 13. He is by English Channel, the sire of last year’s Queen’s Plate winner, Strait of Dover.

Man o’ Bear and Enjoy the Movie were supplemented for $3,000 apiece.