08/12/2013 11:51AM

Woodbine: Irish Mission on the fence for Flaming Page Stakes

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Michael Burns
Irish Mission, the winner of the 2012 Breeders' Stakes against males, will start in either Wednesday's Flaming Page Stakes or Sunday's Sky Classic Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Irish Mission, a dual Canadian champion last year, heads the $100,000 Flaming Page Stakes on Wednesday night at Woodbine. She also is nominated to Sunday’s Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes and could bypass the Flaming Page, a 1 1/2-mile turf marathon in which she should be an odds-on favorite if she starts.

“We haven’t made up our minds yet,” said Mark Frostad, who trains the lanky chestnut Irish Mission for owner Robert Evans.

Irish Mission, the 2012 Woodbine Oaks winner, competed in all three legs of the 2012 Canadian Triple Crown. After finishing second in the Queen’s Plate, she faltered on dirt in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie but rebounded with a victory in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Stakes on grass.

Irish Mission went to the sidelines for about six months after finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf here last September.

“I think she was over the top by then, but we took a shot,” Frostad said. “She was in with 110 pounds and ran off. It didn’t go her way.”

Irish Mission started twice over the winter at Gulfstream, including a good third-place finish in the Grade 3 Orchid. She was boxed in along the inside before ending up second in the Grade 2 Nassau here May 25.

Irish Mission turned in a rare clunker as the lukewarm favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly, a Grade 2 stakes here July 7.

“It was a hot, humid, rainy day,” Frostad said. “She just wasn’t herself that day.”

On a much cooler night July 24, Irish Mission won the 1 3/8-mile allowance prep for the Flaming Page convincingly under 124 pounds with Gary Boulanger aboard.

“She’s a galloper, and I think the distance helped her,” Frostad said. “Anything shorter than [1 1/4 miles] really isn’t her game.”

The Arlington-based Left a Message is the lone shipper in the 10-horse field of fillies and mares.

Left a Message was a fast-closing second in a second-level optional claimer going about a mile when returning from an eight-month absence July 13. Her trainer, Tom Proctor, won the 2012 Nassau and Dance Smartly with Marketing Mix.

Players Club rallied belatedly to nose out Distorted Legacy for second in the July 24 prep, which was probably the best race of her career.

Distorted Legacy, who was ninth in the Dance Smartly, is winless in six starts this year.

Awesome Fire has struggled since she captured the restricted Wonder Where Stakes last summer over Lateegra, who was a distant sixth after helping to set the pace in the July 24 prep.

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