10/27/2011 12:44PM

Woodbine: Magic Broomstick has waited for softer spot in River Memories


ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Magic Broomstick had been under consideration for the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, the $1 million stakes for fillies and mares which was run here at Woodbine on Oct. 16. But trainer Mark Frostad elected to keep Magic Broomstick grounded that afternoon with an eye toward Saturday’s $100,000 River Memories.

The River Memories, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares, and the last turf stakes for the division this season, attracted a field of seven and Magic Broomstick is the probable favorite.

“She’d got in so late this year, and she’d only had two starts,” said Frostad, who watched Magic Broomstick finish ninth last time out in the Grade 2 Canadian over 1 1/8 miles of turf here Sept 18. “She’s doing well, and I think the mile on turf is her best trip.”

Magic Broomstick is 2-for-3 over that distance and surface, having won her third allowance condition here last June and scored very impressively when making her 2011 bow under open allowance terms here July 24.

That race was her first since last year’s River Memories, where she was beaten a head as the third-place finisher behind the talented shippers Fantasia and Never Retreat.

Emma-Jayne Wilson retains the mount on Magic Broomstick, who will be seeking her first stakes victory.

Oregon Lady, who is trained by Roger Attfield, also will be looking for her initial stakes success in the River Memories.

Bred in Ireland, the 4-year-old Oregon Lady is coming off a distant second-place finish behind stablemate Honimiere in the Flaming Page, a 1 1/2-mile race which originally was scheduled for turf but was moved to the main track.

“I don’t know that the mile and a half was very good for her. We were experimenting a bit,” said Attfield, who conditions Oregon Lady for Dick Bonnycastle’s Harlequin Ranches. “I know her best distance is a mile to a mile and an eighth on turf.”

Oregon Lady tuned up for the River Memories with a three-furlong main-track breeze in 35.40 seconds under assistant trainer Suzanne Lorimer here Thursday morning.

Patrick Husbands will ride Oregon Lady for the first time..

Moonlit Beauty, a two-time stakes winner on the turf, also deserves serious consideration in the River Memories.

Owned and bred by Bill Gierkink and trained by John LeBlanc, Moonlit Beauty finished second last time out in Classy ‘n Smart, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

In her second start back, Moonlit Beauty recorded her second career stakes win over seven furlongs of turf in the Belle Geste.

Carroll has five for three stakes

Trainer Josie Carroll will be active on the stakes front here this weekend with Valli With a Vow slated for the River Memories; Mullins Beach set for Sunday’s Ontario Fashion; and the trio of Safety Zone, Silver Rock, and Merkabah entered for Sunday’s Labeeb.

Valli With a Vow, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Avowal, a seven-furlong overnight stakes which was taken off the turf.

“I just think she ran a little flat; she really didn’t show her best race,” said Carroll, who conditions the homebred Valli With a Vow for Darrell and Lendy Brown. “I think a mile on the turf would hit her right between the eyes. Her stakes win came at a mile on the turf.”

That stakes success came last December at Fair Grounds, in the $60,000 Pago Hop for 3-year-old fillies.

Mullins Beach, an Ontario-foaled 5-year-old, will be making her first start for Carroll in the $150,000 Ontario Fashion, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares.

Owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, Mullins Beach has won seven races, including two stakes, and more than $500,000 in 21 career outings for trainer Malcolm Pierce.

“She’s been off for a while but she’s really, really training well,” said Carroll, noting that Mullins Beach had not seen action since mid-March. “We got her in August but she’d been in training at Winding Oaks, in Florida.”

Safety Zone is the defending champion in the $100,000 Labeeb, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and upward scheduled for one mile on the turf.

Bred in Kentucky, the 7-year-old gelding Safety Zone has raced for claiming prices as low as $16,000 and was a $40,000 claim by Mark Casse on Melnyk’s behalf here last October.

After finishing fifth in the Barbados Gold Cup this March, Safety Zone went back into training at Melnyk’s Winding Oak this June and was shipped to Carroll here the following month.

“He’s doing very well,” said Carroll, who has sent out Safety Zone to win back-to-back races when racing for the optional $62,500 claiming price in races also open to second-level allowance horses.

Silver Rock, a 4-year-old gelding who was bred in Kentucky by Melnyk, will be making his first start for Carroll after fashioning a record of 3-0-3 and banking $123,545 in 9 outings for Casse.

In his last start, back on July 24, Silver Rock finished a close fourth in the Grade 2 Nijinsky over 1 1/8 miles of yielding turf.

“The only reason he hasn’t run since then is that none of his races have filled,” said Carroll, noting that Silver Rock remained eligible for his third allowance condition. “He’s a very nice horse.”

Merkabah, a homebred 5-year-old horse who races for Knob Hill Stable, was 2 for 3 when trained by Kevin Attard last year and joined Carroll’s string at Keeneland this April.

“He’s had a bit of bad luck this year, with his races coming off the turf,” said Carroll. “We elected to run him in one of the races, and he ran creditably, but I think he’s better on turf.”

Merkabah’s main-track outing came under second-level allowance terms here July 24 when he finished fourth in a key race won by City Wolf.

In his only subsequent start, on Oct. 9, Merkabah ran second behind Safety Zone in a 1 1/16-mile turf race.

Smart Sting, winner of the Grade 3 Selene over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack for Attfield last time out, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 here Friday under assistant trainer Suzanne Lorimer.

A Kentucky-bred who races for her owner and breeder Stronach Stable, Smart Sting was scratched from last Friday’s Valley View at Keeneland due to the condition of the turf and is now being aimed for the Nov. 12 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs.

The Mrs. Revere, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $175,000.