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Woodbine: Keogh has pair of long-winded runners in Breeders'
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario − Trainer Mike Keogh has been represented in the last three editions of the Breeders’ Stakes, but his runners, Delawana, Silent Wisper, and Full Throttle, were all well beaten at long odds. On Sunday, Keogh will be hoping for a return to better Breeders’ days, such as his Triple Crown-clinching success with Wando in 2003, when he sends out Ultimate Destiny and Street Fight.
A 1 1/2-mile turf race, the $500,000 Breeders’ follows Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate and Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales in the Triple Crown series for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.
But there is little fanfare attached this year, with no Triple Crown on the line, and the Breeders’ was drawn along with the rest of Sunday’s 10-race program at the race office here early Thursday afternoon. A field of 14 was entered, with the filly Dixie Strike looming as the probable choice.
Dixie Strike, trained by Mark Casse, finished third in the Queen’s Plate here at 1 1/4 miles before winning the Prince of Wales Stakes over 1 3/16 miles on Fort Erie’s dirt surface.
Ultimate Destiny, a wide fifth in the Queen’s Plate and beaten a length as the runner-up in the Prince of Wales, joins Prince of Wales fourth Quaesitor as the only horses in the Breeders’ lineup who have not raced on turf.
Keogh sent out Ultimate Destiny for three solid five-furlong drills on the turf training course here last August and said he was pleased with the colt’s five-furlong work last Sunday, when he went in 1:00.20 under regular rider Steven Bahen.
“He went exactly the same way, with his head up in the air − he’s never going to change that,” Keogh said. “He’s run well on dirt, he’s run well on Polytrack. To me, he looks like the type of horse that will handle any surface.
“And I don’t think the 1 1/2 miles will be a problem. I’ve never been worried about that. He just wants to go all day.”
Keogh said he also sees Street Fight as a long-distance prospect. Owned by Cot Campbell’s Dogwood Stable, Street Fight is coming into the Breeders’ off a closing second in a $50,000 maiden-claiming race over one mile on turf.
“Before he was in that day, my assistant, Robbie Martin, and I had thought this horse would want to go farther,” said Keogh, who took over as Street Fight’s trainer here this spring after the gelding had started his career with Todd Pletcher and then been transferred to Neil Howard. “After he ran so well and closed all that ground, I mentioned the Breeders’ to Mr. Campbell. For a half-million-dollar restricted race we decided it was worth taking a shot. To me, he looks like a horse that wants to go that far.”
The privilege of running in the Breeders’ will require a supplementary fee of $12,500 as Street Fight had not been nominated to the Canadian Triple Crown program.
Fairlie finds success as breeder
Trainer Scott Fairlie is a major player in the claiming game here.
Having claimed 18 horses at the current meeting and watching seven of those come back to win, Fairlie has plenty of turnover in the 36 stalls he maintains here at Woodbine.
But Fairlie, under his nom du course Ace Racing Stable and in partnership with the Dave Succamore-led Hard Eight Stable, also has had success on the breeding front. One of his homebreds, Professors Ride, will be looking to give him his first stakes win of the season here in Sunday’s Nandi.
Professor’s Ride, out of Fairlie’s broodmare CosaRara, will be making her fourth career start in the $125,000 Nandi, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.
“She’s always been a nice filly,” Fairlie said. “We bought her back at the sale here last year for $75,000. For $80,000, she would have been sold.”
After closing to finish third and then second in her first two outings, both at 4 1/2 furlongs, Professor’s Ride put it all together under her regular rider Michelle Rainford to graduate impressively at 5 1/2 furlongs here July 14.
Although Professor’s Ride drew the often tricky 1-hole in her last race, Fairlie said he believes that draw actually enhanced her chances.
“She can be more competitive on the inside,” Fairlie said.
Professor’s Ride drew post 5 for the Nandi, which attracted a field of seven.
Two Fairlie horses at CTHS sale
Fairlie will be offering two horses at the upcoming CTHS selected yearling sale, with Paradox Farm as consigning agent.
A half-sister to Professor’s Ride, sired by Pleasant Tap, and a colt by Milwaukee Brew out of Cawaja Beach are slated to sell Sept. 4, the second day of the selected session.
CosaRara is the dam of Cawaja Beach, a homebred who as a 2-year-old was 4 for 4, including three stakes wins, but was injured and retired after suffering her first loss the following season. The colt is Cawaja Beach’s first foal.
Fairlie reports that he also has a Cawaja Beach weanling, by Tale of the Cat, and a weanling full sister to Cawaja Beach, sired by Where’s the Ring.
“I have a big investment in this game,” Fairlie said.
Gomez to book mounts again
Avelino Gomez Jr., who has been working in Woodbine’s parimutuel department for the last 30 years, is returning to the jockey’s agent game following a lengthy absence.
Gomez, 52, will be booking mounts for Todd Kabel, the former champion rider who return to action this spring following a two-year absence.
“I’d never really had any intention of being an agent again,” Gomez said. “But I wanted to be Kabel’s agent. I called him three months ago.”
Gomez, son of the late Avelino Gomez, had represented his father in 1978 and booked mounts at different times for Gary Stahlbaum, Brian Swatuk, Gunnar Lindberg, and Martin Ramirez.
He also spent 17 years, on and off, working in the race office in addition to his money-room duties.
Gomez said he will be able to juggle his schedule, working nights and on days when there is no draw, in order to continue working on the front side while walking the beat for Kabel.
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