05/30/2013 12:02PM

Woodbine: Hendrie Stakes has pair from Gonzalez barn


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Nick Gonzalez sends out the improving 4-year-old fillies Starship Universe and Man Stuff in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Hendrie Stakes at Woodbine.

The 6 1/2-furlong sprint also lured Acting Naughty, who edged Starship Universe for the victory in the Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes here April 28.

Starship Universe was an astute claim at Gulfstream by Tucci Stable, which claimed her from a victory over $30,000 conditioned stock March 21. She was dismissed at 61-1 in the six-furlong Whimsical, in which she made the lead in deep stretch before coming up a head short.

“She ran great and came out of it real good,” Gonzalez said. “We entertained some other spots – she’s eligible for a [first-level allowance]. We’ve got that in our back pocket, and we could always go there later.”

Man Stuff defeated older foes in the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too Stakes when she was on a roll last July. She tailed off in the fall and was seventh after getting softened up in a speed duel when she returned from a six-month absence in the Whimsical.

“You’re going to see an improved race from Man Stuff,” Gonzalez predicted. “She had some time off after her little injury, and she wasn’t that tuned up for the Whimsical. She’s doing great, too. That race did her a lot of good.”

Acting Naughty was claimed for $40,000 by owner John Hillier in September 2011. She won 3 of 9 starts and $155,262 last year, the highlight of which was a close second to Blue Heart in the seven-furlong Jammed Lovely Stakes in November.

Acting Naughty had been working up a storm heading into her first start of the year in the Whimsical, in which she mounted a wide rally from off quick fractions to prevail in 1:09.76, a time that earned her a modest 80 Beyer Speed Figure.

Acting Naughty has worked twice since the Whimsical, most recently last Saturday, when she covered five furlongs in a rapid 59.60 seconds. Tyler Pizarro will break her from the undesirable post 1.

Delightful Mary, Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly in 2010, is returning from a 14-month absence. She finished third in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill.

Delightful Mary ran two big races early last year at Gulfstream, before going to the sidelines after spinning her wheels over a muddy track in the Grade 2 Top Flight at Aqueduct.

Tucci Stable also is running the Sid Attard-trained Heavenly Pride, who has been idle since a narrow loss in a Sept. 22 optional claimer. Jesse Campbell was named on both Tucci runners.