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Woodbine: Maker seeks reprise in Ontario Derby
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Last year, Kentucky-based trainer Mike Maker shipped up Stately Victor to capture Woodbine’s $150,000 Ontario Derby.
On Saturday, Maker will be looking to follow that blueprint with Derby Kitten in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.
Stately Victor had come with solid Polytrack credentials, having won the Grade 1 Blue Grass over 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland.
Derby Kitten also is a stakes winner at Keeneland, having captured the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Lexington in his only start to date on a synthetic surface.
After following up with a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Derby Kitten has made his three subsequent appearances on turf, with the latest a seventh-place finish in Arlington’s Grade 1 Secretariat at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 13.
“He’s by Kitten’s Joy, a top turf sire, and the better 3-year-old races for him have been on the turf,” said Maker, who trains Derby Kitten for Ken and Sarah Ramsay.
“The timing of this race was good, and obviously we’re looking forward to getting him back on Polytrack.”
Mike Smith is scheduled to ride Derby Kitten for the first time in the Ontario Derby, which attracted a field of nine entries, including Pender Harbour, the pro tem divisional leader here.
Pender Harbour, however, also was entered in Saturday’s Grade 2, $1 million Pennyslvania Derby and vanned out Thursday morning for that 1 1/8-mile race.
“We always were pretty much going,” said trainer Mike DePaulo. “We entered him here just in case there was a hiccup at the last minute – if things went awry.”
Luis Contreras will be journeying to Philadelphia for his regular assignment aboard Pender Harbour, who won his only start on dirt in Fort Erie’s 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales but could encounter an off track for the first time.
“I galloped him in the mud on the training track here this morning, and he seemed to handle it well,” said DePaulo.
Meanwhile, Stately Victor is slated to make his third local appearance here in the Grade 3, $150,000 Durham Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward on Oct. 2.
Stately Victor has finished a closing third in each of his last two starts, which came here in the Grade 3, 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day on July 1 and in Del Mar’s Grade 1 Pacific Classic at the same distance on Aug. 28.
“He ran great,” said Maker. “Unfortunately, they didn’t put too much pressure on the winner.”
Maker’s reference was to Acclamation, who led throughout the Pacific Classic.
Arctic Fern gets stakes win
Artic Fern, a talented but lightly raced 4-year-old gelding,earned his first stakes win here Wednesday evening in the $112,000 King Corrie at six furlongs.
Owned and bred by Gus Schickedanz and trained by Mike Keogh, Artic Fern was winning for the fifth time in seven starts, all under David Clark.
“I jogged him in the shed this morning, and he looked good,” said Keogh, relieved that Artic Fern appeared to have emerged from the King Corrie in good order.
Artic Fern, sidelined on his way to the Queen’s Plate last year, returned from a layoff of almost 11 months to score impressively in an optional/claiming classified allowance at seven furlongs on the main track here April 30.
But, after finishing a solid fourth when making his turf and stakes debut in the Grade 2, one-mile King Edward here June 25 Artic Fern wound up back on the shelf.
“He cooled out fine, but he was lame the next morning,” said Keogh. “We did a scintigraphy on him and it lit up in all the same places that it did last year.
“Mostly, it’s his shins. He did have bruised condylar last year, too.”
Keogh, accustomed to being patient with Artic Fern, breezed him back for the first time on Aug. 19.
“I’d looked at the overnight stakes schedule, and kind of pointed him towards this race,” said Keogh. “I didn’t have that many works in him. I’d said to Gus that I’d rather run him than keep working him.”
Breaking from the 1 post in the King Corrie, Artic Fern went head-and-head with reigning Canadian sprint champion Hollywood Hit before drawing off to a one-length score.
“I know he’s got a lot of speed but he’d never run six furlongs before,” said Keogh. “Clarkie was pretty confident in him.
“For me, it was just nice to get him back to racing. Even if he didn’t get the job done it would have been a nice stepping-stone to the Mt. Sassafras, which is seven furlongs for Ontario-foals.”
The Mt. Sassafras, an overnight stakes, is scheduled to be run here Oct. 12.
The Keogh stable had an additional reason to celebrate Wednesday when Say No More, a homebred 3-year-old gelding, was a front-running winner of an optional $62,500 claiming/second-level allowance race.
“He’s a nice little horse,” said Keogh. “I’m glad to see him win again.”
Say No More also was nominated to the Ontario Derby but Keogh opted for Wednesday’s 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward.
“The thing that scared me more than anything about the Ontario Derby was I didn’t think he’d get a mile and an eighth,” said Keogh.
Indian Pond breezes for Carotene
Indian Pond, a candidate for next Sunday’s Carotene Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 under exercise rider Melanie Giddings here Thursday morning.
Owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk and trained by Mark Casse, Indian Pond had put together back-to-back wins in turf sprints here this summer.
In her most recent outing, which came in the Riskaverse over one mile on turf at Saratoga, Indian Pond finished eighth in the field of nine but was beaten just six lengths.
“She didn’t run poorly,” said Casse. “She had kind of a troubled trip.
“I’m looking forward to getting her back in with Ontario-foals.”
The Carotene, a 1 1/8 mile turf race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies, offers a purse of $150,000.
Dancing Raven has surgery
Dancing Raven, a top Ontario-sired filly trained by Mike Doyle, suffered a condylar fracture while galloping on the Polytrack here Wednesday and underwent surgery at the nearby Milton Equine Hospital.
“It went well,” said Doyle. “They put three screws. They called me about 9:30 last night. She was up, and was fine.
Doyle, who has sent out Dancing Raven to win a pair of stakes and finish second or third in five others, said the Ontario-sired 4-year-old would be recuperating at the Windhaven Farm of her owner and breeder, Bill Graham.
“She should be back next year,” said Doyle.