08/01/2012 3:47PM

Woodbine: Incredicat stretches out to face elders in Seagram

Michael Burns
Incredicat will stretch out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles and challenge older horses in the Seagram Cup.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Incredicat has had a rather unorthodox campaign this year.

Abandoning the road to the Queen’s Plate after ending the runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial, Incredicat was brought back in the six-furlong Achievement and chased the front-running Jenna’s Wabbit en route to another second-place finish.

Now, due to an absence of other appropriate opportunities, Incredicat will be traveling 1 1/16 miles on Saturday and facing older horses in the Grade 3, $150,000 Seagram Stakes at Woodbine.

“We’d like to get him graded-stakes placed,” said Ian Black, who trains Incredicat for a high-powered partnership which includes the colt’s breeder, David Willmot. “It looks like he’s the only speed. Whether he can carry it with these horses remains to be seen.”

Interestingly, Incredicat’s best Beyer Speed Figure is the 85 which he was awarded for his front-running win in the Wando Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

The Seagram Cup attracted seven horses, headed by Pool Play, winner of last summer’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.

James Street and Stunning Stag, the one-two finishers in last year’s Seagram Cup; City Wolf, winner of the Grade 3 Durham Cup at 1 1/8 miles; and Alpha Bettor and Medidocihospisurg, both of whom were supplemented at a cost of $3,000, complete the lineup.

Vella takes a shot with Alpha Bettor

Alpha Bettor is trained by Danny Vella, whose stable suffered a major blow this week when Queen’s Plate winner and probable Breeders’ Stakes favorite Strait of Dover was sidelined for the season with a suspensory injury.

“We hadn’t really planned on going in the Seagram. It’s only three weeks since his last race,” said Vella, who watched Alpha Bettor finish third in a classified allowance over 1 1/8 miles of turf here July 14.

“We like him a lot but with a horse like him, you have to try and get the right spot. But it’s a small field, and he just blew out exceptionally well.”

Alpha Bettor breezed four furlongs in 48.60 seconds here Tuesday.

First-time starter in Nandi

Vella also plans to be represented in Sunday’s $125,000 Nandi Stakes, the supporting feature on the Breeders’ Stakes program, with Seeking Toussaud slated to make her first lifetime start in the six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.

“She’s not a real sprinter – that’s why we didn’t run her five or 5 1/2 furlongs,” said Vella.

“I think she has enough speed to go six furlongs. She’s training like she’s a real good filly, so we thought she’d give it a shot.”

Big Band Sound points to Play the King

Big Band Sound, who has finished second for Vella when competing in stakes races in each of his four starts at the meeting, breezed Monday for the first time since his near-miss in the Grade 2 King Edward over one mile of turf here June 24.

“We just freshened him a little bit, just jogged him a few weeks,” said Vella. “We didn’t stop on him.

“He raced all winter, and he had four very tough races here.”

Big Band Sound made his first start for Vella here last Oct. 13 and raced three more times here through the balance of the meeting and twice at Tampa Bay Downs this year.

“We’re pointing him for the Play the King,” said Vella.

The Grade 2, $200,00 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, will be run here Aug. 26.

Excaper may try stakes at Saratoga

Getting back to Black, the trainer was both happy and relieved last Sunday after watching Excaper score convincingly in a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and upward over one mile of turf.

Excaper, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old who races for Richard Kaster and Frederick Wieting, was winning for the first time since graduating over six furlongs on the main track in his debut here last Aug. 7. His next six starts all came in stakes races and included second-place finishes in four turf stakes, highlighted by the Grade 3 Summer and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

“It was very important for him to win a race,” said Black. “It was a nice spot for him.

“Now, we’ll have to find a 3-year-old race somewhere for him. A turf race, at a mile and over, out of town.”

Black mentioned Saratoga’s Grade 3, $150,000 Saranac, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds on Sept. 2, as one spot which will be considered.

Two former champions retired

July was a bittersweet month for the Nick Gonzalez stable.

While Awesome Fire gave the barn a major victory in last Sunday’s $250,400 Wonder Where Stakes, two former Gonzalez champions, Big Red Mike and Wholelottabourbon, had their racing days come to an end.

Big Red Mike, owned and bred by Dom Romeo, won the 2010 Plate Trial and Queen’s Plate and took home the Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion 3-year-old male.

But Big Red Mike had visited the winner’s circle just once in 10 subsequent outings, with that success in the off-the-turf 1 1/4-mile allowance prep for the Singspiel Stakes here June 2, and then had been well-beaten in the Singspiel itself and running for a claiming price of $75,000 on July 14.

“He’d started showing signs of wear and tear,” said Gonzalez. “We put him on a van last Saturday. He went to Huntington Stud. He’ll enjoy a life of leisure, as a gelding.”

Big Red Mike goes home with a record of 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds from 16 starts for earnings of $904,881.

Wholelottabourbon won the Colin, Silver Deputy, and Bull Page here in 2004 en route to honors as Canada’s champion male 2-year-old and went on to take the Woodstock and to finish second in the Grade 3 Marine at 3.

But Wholelottabourbon had spent the last five years in the lower claiming ranks, with his last win coming here for $8,000 here in April 2010, and had been blanked in 10 consecutive outings after he finished fifth for a $4,750 claiming tag on July 2.

“He injured a tendon, and we won’t try to bring him back,” said Gonzalez, adding that Wholelottabourbon was winding down at the Shady Maple Farm of veterinarian James Crawford.

Wholelottabourbon won 11 of 36 starts, adding 8 seconds and 2 thirds while earning $473,149.

◗ Author Richard Maturi will be on hand here for the long weekend to autograph copies of his new work “Triple Crown Winner: The Earle Sande Saga”. Maturi will be here from noon through 5 p.m. each day, on the second floor of the grandstand.