08/22/2011 1:18PM

Woodbine: Kara’s Orientation gives trainer first stakes win


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Kara’s Orientation’s success in Sunday’s Sky Classic was a big win for the little guys.

Claimed for $20,000 here in spring 2010, the 4-year-old colt Kara’s Orientation was the first stakes winner for his trainer, Steven Chircop, and the win had added significance due to its Grade 2 status and $250,000 purse.

Kara’s Orientation’s front-running score over 1 1/4 miles of good turf also provided a never-to-be-forgotten highlight reel for his owner, Max Berketa, and the Pinnacle Stable partnership headed by Chircop’s uncle, Joe Chircop.

The Pinnacle Group also includes the trainer’s father, Godfrey Chircop, along with Mastromarco Louie, Fernando Mammoliti, and Mark Van Rassel.

And a very good time was had by all, a point that was reinforced by the massive winner’s circle crowd that included family and friends ranging in age from the toddling to the grandfatherly.

Chircop, who had sent out Kara’s Orientation to finish second in Northlands Park’s $300,000 Canadian Derby exactly one year prior to the Sky Classic, was reflective in the wake of the Sky Classic victory.

“To me, the Canadian Derby was such a big thing,” he said. “I wanted to win that race so badly.

“Coming to this race one year later, and winning against the likes of the horses he was running against – it’s just an unbelievable feeling.

“The problem was it was hard to enjoy the race when you see the horse in front by that far. I’ve been watching races all my life, and you almost never see a horse go to the front like that, in a race that long, and win.”

Kara’s Orientation, under Emile Ramsammy, was unopposed from the start and led by an astounding 17 1/2 lengths after a half-mile and 17 lengths after six furlongs.

Still in front by eight lengths with a quarter-mile to go, Kara’s Orientation saw his margin dwindle but was never seriously in danger as he prevailed by 2 1/4 lengths.

“I think it’s more than a horse who just led and stole it,” Chircop said. “He’s just developing. He’s a much more mature horse.”

Chircop had always believed that Kara’s Orientation would be a very effective turf miler.

“He’s got the perfect blend of speed and stamina,” the trainer said.

But Kara’s Orientation’s success in the Sky Classic opens up other avenues.

“We’d have to look at the Northern Dancer,” said Chircop, with reference to the Grade 1, $500,000 turf race that will be run over 1 1/2 miles here Sept. 18 on the same card as the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile.

The Northern Dancer also is the major local stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Canadian International over the same distance and surface here Oct. 16.

“One thing that me and the owners have decided is to keep him on turf,” Chircop said.

Fifty Proof has suspensory injury

Trainer Ian Black’s barn was dealt its second major blow within one week when Fifty Proof, who would have been one of the favorites in the Sky Classic, came up with an injury that has ended his campaign.

Rahy’s Attorney, a 7-year-old gelding, had been injured during his courageous second-place finish in Saratoga’s Aug. 13 Sword Dancer, and his retirement was announced last Tuesday.

Fifty Proof, a 5-year-old Ontario-sired gelding, had been scratched from the Sky Classic after Black detected what he hoped was a minor problem Sunday morning.

“He had a little heat in one leg; it was very slight,” Black said. “He was sound, and there was no sign of lameness on Monday morning, but we decided to ultrasound him and found a hole in his suspensory.”

Fifty Proof will be heading to Willmot’s Kinghaven Farm.

“We’ll give him six months off or whatever it takes,” Black said. “There’s always some question whether they’ll come back, or come back at the same level.”

Fifty Proof burst into the spotlight last year when he finished a close second in the Northern Dancer and then finished a close fifth in the Canadian International.

Racing for owners David Willmot, John Fielding, and Ben Hutzel, Fifty Proof became a stakes winner this spring in the Grade 3 Eclipse over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack.

Fifty Proof’s two subsequent starts yielded second-place finishes in Grade 2 turf stakes as he was beaten a half-length in the one-mile King Edward and three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/8-mile Nijinsky to boost his earnings past the $700,000 mark.

“It’s bad luck, but I’ve had so much good luck with these older horses, keeping them sound and everything,” Black. “Inevitably, it’s going to catch up with you.”

Niigon’s Touch rebounds in stakes

Niigon’s Touch, who had disappointed when trying grass for the first time in the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where, got back to her preferred surface last Saturday and became a stakes winner in the $125,000 Eternal Search.

Reserved off the early pace by jockey Tyler Pizarro, Niigon’s Touch launched a wide move around the turn that carried her to a 3 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

“I was pleased with the way she stalked the pace,” said Paul Attard, who trains the homebred Niigon’s Touch for Chiefswood Stable.

“I told Tyler to keep her way outside; I thought the rail was dead.”

Niigon’s Touch had won her first two career starts here this spring before stepping up into stakes company and finishing second, beaten a head, by Bear It’s Time in the 1 1/16-mile Bison City for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

“She’s a nice filly,” Attard said. “Her only bad race was on turf. In the Bison City, with a little more seasoning, she might have got there.”

Niigon’s Touch will get a two-week break at Chiefswood Farm and then will return to prepare for the Oct. 5 Classy ’n Smart, a restricted 1 1/16-mile race in which she would face older fillies and mares.

In the meantime, the 29-year-old Attard should be looking for a third stakes win in what is looming as a career season with Anne’s Beauty on target for Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Ontario Colleen, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

“It’s going to be a tough race,” said Attard, who has fashioned a record of 13-5-3 from 43 starts at the meeting. “She’s going to have to be on top of her game.”

Anne’s Beauty, a Kentucky-bred owned by Rob Smithen, is coming off an impressive win in the Duchess, which was her second stakes win over seven furlongs of Polytrack.