04/13/2012 11:21AM

Woodbine: Menlo Castle starts run to Queen's Plate in Woodstock

Michael Burns
Menlo Castle will make his first start of the year Sunday in the $150,000 Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – It will be hard to top the career year that trainer Ralph Biamonte had in 2011, but he does seem poised for a productive 2012. He entered a trio of Ontario-bred 3-year-olds in Sunday’s $150,000 Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine, most notably Menlo Castle.

Menlo Castle is one of the early favorites for the $1 million Queen’s Plate on June 24. It took him four starts to earn his diploma, which he did in style over 6 1/2 furlongs Sept. 5 in the $201,200 Simcoe, a stakes for graduates of local yearling sales.

After a troubled fifth in a stakes at Presque Isle Downs on Oct. 1, Menlo Castle ran second to eventual Canadian champion 2-year-old Maritimer in a pair of route stakes, the Coronation Futurity and Display.

“Menlo has really come through as a nice horse,” Biamonte said. “He’s acting so good. I worked him the other day with Top Prospect, a nice older horse who just isn’t in his league. I think he’s starting to know that he’s a pretty good horse.”

Biamonte’s other entrants in the six-furlong Woodstock are Run in Aruba and Where’s Johnson.

Run in Aruba completed his 2-year-old campaign with a victory around two turns in the restricted Kingarvie Stakes.

“I’d like to get him to learn to relax a little,” Biamonte said. “I know he wants to go long.”

Biamonte said Where’s Johnson was entered in a first-level allowance this week, which failed to fill. Where’s Johnson finished second in the Simcoe, before ending up a dull fifth in an allowance.

“I think that [subpar] race had something to do with him getting sick in August,” Biamonte said. “He’s altogether different this year. He’s doing well.”

Chicago shipper Hogy, like Where’s Johnson, was supplemented for $3,000.

Hogy is coming off an authoritative triumph in the six-furlong Hansel Stakes at Turfway. He earned a big 92 Beyer Speed Figure in that Polytrack event and is certainly a bounce candidate here in his second start after a long layoff.

Town Prize should be among the favorites off his front-running third-place finish in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes on the dirt at Gulfstream Park. He won two of three outings here last year and was third in the six-furlong Colin Stakes.

Making Amends’s lone score took place in his debut in the Clarendon Stakes. He rallied for second in his season opener in the male division of the OBS Sprint Stakes in Ocala, Fla.

Oro Vero wintered at the Palm Meadows training center after his convincing maiden win here Nov. 20.

Danger Bay defeated Oro Vero when he graduated in his last appearance Oct. 21.