09/09/2011 1:28PM

Woodbine: Hailstone has look of live longshot in Northern Dancer


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The Northern Dancer Stakes, which will be run here at Woodbine next Sunday, tends to play second fiddle to the same day’s Woodbine Mile.

But the Northern Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile turf race which offers Grade 1 status and a purse of $500,000, is a prize well worth pursuing in its own right and also is the key local prep for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Canadian International at the same distance four weeks hence.

One horse who is heading into the Northern Dancer well under the radar is Hailstone, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old colt who is owned by Woodford Racing and Westrock Stable and trained by Mark Casse.

On Friday, Casse sent out Hailstone to breeze five furlongs in company from the gate in 1:01.20 under exercise rider Jason Hoyte.

“It’s not normally what you do, when you’re going a mile and a half on the turf,” said Casse. “But, Hailstone is a little funny. If you want him to do something, sometimes you have to change things up. He can go through some little ornery streaks.”

Hailstone remains eligible for the second-allowance condition but has raced in four Grade 2 stakes at this meeting and performed respectably on each occasion.

Making his stakes debut in the seven-furlong Connaught Cup on a course rated soft, Hailstone closed to finish second, three lengths behind the victorious Stormy Lord, in the four-horse field and then ended fifth but was beaten just 2 1/4 lengths in the King Edward over one mile of good going.

His subsequent outings, which came in the 1 1/8-mile Nijinsky over a yielding course and the 1 1/4-mile Sky Classic on a good surface, both yielded third-place finishes.

“Every time I run him, he’s been running on end,” said Casse. “I don’t think the mile and a half is a problem.”

Julien Leparoux, who is scheduled to ride Bernard Baruch winner Turallure in the Woodbine Mile, has the call on Hailstone for the Northern Dancer.

Seaside Retreat, who also is slated to represent the Casse stable in the Northern Dancer, is to be ridden by Patrick Husbands.