07/26/2012 1:40PM

Woodbine: Man Stuff finds sweet spot in Duchess


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Man Stuff drops in class off a victory over older opposition Saturday, when she will meet 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs in the $150,000 Duchess Stakes at Woodbine.

Man Stuff has lost only once in four starts, finishing a close third behind next-out stakes winner Dene Court and Blue Heart in the Alywow Stakes on the grass. Man Stuff notched her first stakes victory July 7 in the Sweet Briar Too, in which she set dawdling fractions before holding off the troubled 4-year-old Roxy Gap. Trainer Nick Gonzalez said he was reluctant to run her in the seven-furlong event, but wanted to avoid a two-month gap to the Duchess.

“I had entered her in a two-other-than [allowance] for 3-year-old fillies, but the race didn’t go,” Gonzalez said. “The Sweet Briar Too was Plan B. As the race unfolded, we got lucky, because there wasn’t a lot of speed in there. She got an easy lead and was strong through the stretch. She’s probably not going to get away with that in the Duchess, but there’s not going to be any Roxy Gaps in there either.”

Gonzalez said he has entertained some ambitious plans for Man Stuff, who was a bargain $16,500 yearling purchase.

“I had little dreams about going to Saratoga,” Gonzalez said. “We breezed her on the dirt, and she was just as good, if not better. It would not scare me if I ever did take her out of town. When they galloped out in the Sweet Briar Too, she opened up 20 lengths on everybody. She’s never shown us that she’s pure speed. She’s always shown us lots of stamina, but we haven’t gone past seven-eighths because of the way the races came up. I look forward to trying her [long] sometime after the Duchess.”

Gonzalez also entered Evil Kitten, who is exiting an easy front-running score in her season opener in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance.

“We got quite ambitious with her last year after she broke her maiden,” Gonzalez said. “We ran her in three stakes races, with little success. She really turned the corner from 2 to 3, which you could see by her first race. I always thought she’d be a better 3-year-old. I don’t think she’s quite up to Man Stuff right now, but after you win your [first allowance] as a 3-year-old, you either have to run against two-other-than older fillies or mares or go where we are.”

Trainer Mark Casse entered Sky High Lady and Spirited Miss, a pair of John Oxley-owned Sky Mesa fillies who are each coming off an allowance win.