11/03/2011 11:29AM

Woodbine: Maple Leaf good spot for Polytrack specialist La Gran Bailadora


ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Kentucky shipper La Gran Bailadora stands out in Saturday’s $175,000 Maple Leaf Stakes.

La Gran Bailadora, trained by Mike Maker, has come a long way since beginning the year with an optional-claiming score at Turfway, and she should love the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Maple Leaf. She came from last in a seven-horse field to capture the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Distaff in her nest-to-last start at Turfway.

Most recently in the nine-furlong Spinster at Keeneland, La Gran Bailadora rallied six-wide from far back to finish third behind Aruna and last year’s runaway Maple Leaf winner, Pachattack.

“She ran really well with Grade 1 competition,” said Maker. “She finished up strong.”

Maker said the Maple Leaf is a logical spot for synthetic specialist La Gran Bailadora.

“She obviously thrives on Polytrack,” Maker said. “Also, I don’t think that she has any distance limitations. It’s a no-brainer. There aren’t many options for her, anyway.”

Two of the five entrants – Indian Pond and Masked Maiden--are 3-year-old fillies trained by Mark Casse.

Indian Pond is coming off a two-length tally in the nine-furlong Carotene, a stakes for Ontario-breds that was taken off the turf.

“I know there’s some questions about the quality of the field that she beat last time, but she won about as easy as a horse could win,” said Casse. “She circled the field, and drew off. The pace was pretty slow, and she came home pretty fast. She just seems to be getting better.”

Masked Maiden graduated second-time out over a mile on the grass July 27. Following a layoff Oct. 1, she overcame traffic problems in the stretch to win an allowance on Polytrack, which gave Casse the meet record for most victories by a trainer with 90.

Casse said he is optimistic that the Maple Leaf distance is within Masked Maiden’s range.

“She’s the type who really doesn’t go until you ask her to go,” said Casse. “I’m not sure of her talent level, but she seems to be getting better and better. When she broke the record for us, I don’t know how she ever got up. She had all kinds of trouble. I had the option of running her in a two-other-than, but I thought this might be a great spot to go for $175,000.”