05/17/2012 9:19AM

Woodbine: Hendrie's slightly longer distance may help Atlantic Hurricane in rematch


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Roxy Gap ran better than ever when she took the six-furlong Whimsical Stakes over 2011 Canadian champion female sprinter Atlantic Hurricane. They will meet again over 6 1/2 furlongs Saturday at Woodbine in the Grade 2, $150,000 Hendrie Stakes.

Roxy Gap, a 4-year-old trained by Mark Casse, was unbeaten at 2. She captured the Fury Stakes early in her 3-year-old season, before tailing off.

Following an eight-month absence March 14, Roxy Gap was a troubled third in a five-furlong optional claimer on the grass at Gulfstream. Most recently in the Grade 3 Whimsical, she parlayed an outside-tracking trip into a neck win over pacemaker Honey Chile, while earning a career high 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

Leading rider Patrick Husbands said Roxy Gap has blossomed this spring, mentally and physically.

“This is a changed horse from last year,” said Husbands. “She’s really interested in running right now. Before, she was a little bit green. From 2 to 3 to 4, she’s gotten bigger and bigger. She’s filled out.”

Husbands worked Roxy Gap five-eighths in 1:00.40 on the Polytrack last Sunday.

“She’s in very good order,” he said.

Atlantic Hurricane had a lucrative 2011 campaign, after trainer Stuart Simon claimed her for $40,000 in June. She took the Grade 3 Seaway with a 91 Beyer, and received a 97 Beyer for romping home on top by five lengths in the Grade 3 Bessarabian, another seven-furlong stakes.

Atlantic Hurricane had been idle for five months when she finished third in the April 22 Whimsical. Simon said he was content with her performance.

“You always want to win, but to be honest, I didn’t expect to win,” Simon said. “She was up against it, against horses who had run already. Going six, you have to rush her off her feet. She’s better going seven-eighths. I think she’s a good middle-distance horse. I know this is going to be a tough race, but I think she’ll run well. It’s a little bit farther, and that race under her belt is going to help a lot.”

Emile Ramsammy, who was recovering from an injury when the Whimsical was run, gets the mount back on Saturday. He rode Atlantic Hurricane in all six of her 2011 victories.

Dr. Diamonds Prize, based at Keeneland with trainer Mark Hubley, is exiting a front-running tally there in a seven-furlong optional claimer. Perhaps her best effort was a half-length loss in the Grade 2 Raven Run in October, in which she was disqualified from third to fourth for interference.

Kitty in a Tizzy, based at Saratoga with trainer Jim Bond, has a decent Woodbine record. She was a non-threatening fourth in the Whimsical in her first appearance in more than seven months.

Trainer Mike Doyle entered longshots Dancing Raven and Dance to the Moon, who are not coupled.