11/30/2012 2:34PM

Woodbine: Long-absent Fifty Proof returns in Sir Barton

Michael Burns
Physical ailments have kept Fifty Poor on the sidelines since July 2011.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Fifty Proof, who was voted Canada’s champion older male of 2011 following a campaign of four starts which concluded in late July, will be returning to the races here at Woodbine in Sunday’s $125,000 Sir Barton.

The Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward, attracted a field of 12 and shares top billing on the 10-race program with the $125,000 Kingarvie Stakes.

Fifty Proof had won the Grade 3 Eclipse over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack and finished second in two Grade 2 turf stakes, the one-mile King Edward and 1 1/8 mile Nijinsky, before going to the sidelines with a suspensory injury.

Back in training here this past spring, Fifty Proof again had to be sent home to Kinghaven Farm.

“It was a bone injury, this summer,” said Ian Black, who trains Fifty Proof for David Willmot, John Fielding, and Ben Hutzel. “He’s been back in for three months. He’s been breezing regularly.”

Fifty Proof was not among the original Sir Barton nominees, and was supplemented at a cost of $3,000.

“I would have liked it to be a week later, but there’s nothing else for him here and nothing except stakes in the first month of Gulfstream,” said Black.

Fifty Proof made Black’s decision easier by breezing five furlongs in 1:00.20 here last Saturday under his regular rider Justin Stein.

“That was very, very good,” said Black. “It was a very slow track, and there was a headwind. He sat off a horse, nine or 10 lengths, and they finished together.”

Moonlit Beauty will be the 123-pound highweight based on her back-to-back victories this year in the restricted Victoriana over 1 1/16 miles of turf and the Classy ‘n Smart over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack.

Most recently, Moonlit Beauty stretched out to 1 1/4 miles for the Maple Leaf, an open race for fillies and mares, and set the pace under top weight of 124 pounds before being beaten 3 1/2 lengths as the third-place finisher.

Owned and bred by Bill Gierkink and trained by John LeBlanc, the 6-year-old Moonlit Beauty will be facing males for the first time.

“I don’t think that will be an issue,” said LeBlanc. “She’s a big, strong filly.

“In her last race she was giving seven pounds to the winner and five pounds to the runner-up. I was really happy with the way she handled the distance; she ran super.”

LeBlanc was in the irons when Moonlit Beauty breezed five furlongs in 1:03.60 here last Saturday.

“She had a nice, easy breeze and she came out real hungry, looking for more,” said LeBlanc. “That’s what I was looking for.”

Eurico Rosa Da Silva, who has guided Moonllit Beauty to three of her four career stakes wins, returns after a one-race hiatus.

Bobcaygeon and Courtville, both coming off solid races in open first-level allowance company at 1 1/16 miles, merit respect as they step up for the Sir Barton.

Crown’s Path, last year’s Sir Barton winner, is coming off a second-place finish at the $16,000 claiming level. Flip of the Coin, the winner that evening, and Sky of Grey, the third-place finisher, also are in the Sir Barton lineup.