11/04/2011 12:22PM

Woodbine: Menlo Castle tries to go long in Coronation Futurity


ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Does anybody really want to win the $250,000 Coronation Futurity? Sure, the money’s good, but Woodbine’s co-richest stakes for 2-year-olds hasn’t produced a high-class winner since A Bit O’Gold in 2003. And the last horse to capture the nine-furlong race, along with the following year’s Queen’s Plate, was Norcliffe in 1975-76.

Menlo Castle should be prominent in the 108th running of Coronation on Sunday. He took the 6 1/2-furlong Simcoe Stakes convincingly, with an 87 Beyer Speed Figure, on Sept. 5.

Trainer Ralph Biamonte said nothing went right with Menlo Castle when he finished fifth as the favorite in the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile at Presque Isle Downs on Oct. 1.

“He lost all chance when he ducked in coming out of the gate,” Biamonte recalled. “Around the five-sixteenths pole, he had to check and more-or-less start again. To his credit, he kept running, and was going quickest of all at the end. And I don’t think he took the shipping too well.”

Biamonte said he’s concerned with running Menlo Castle over a route of ground for the first time.

“It’s a little longer than I’d like to run him,” Biamonte admitted. “He seems like he might run long. If he sits off the pace and rates, I think he’ll have a good chance. On the bottom of his pedigree, he’s out of a Woodman mare.”

Menlo Castle will be ridden by Patrick Husbands, who combined with Biamonte to win Wednesday’s Frost King Stakes with Jenna’s Wabbit.

The well-regarded Maritimer is competing around two turns for the first time for trainer Sid Attard, who won the 2007 Coronation with Kesagami.

“I think he’s going to handle it very well,” said Attard. “After every work, he gallops out strong. I think the Poly is better for him.”

Maritimer performed solidly on the Polytrack in July, before switching to the turf. He was second to the good filly Hard Not to Like in the allowance prep for the Summer Stakes, and then wound up fourth in the Grade 3 Summer in September.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce entered Dead On and Aldous Snow, who was pulled up early in the Oct. 15 Cup and Saucer Stakes, after his rider was kicked and injured by another horse.

Dead On was scratched from the Cup and Saucer because of the soft ground. A son of Awesome Again, he graduated second-time out in a seven-furlong maiden special Sept. 25.

“I don’t think Dead On has any distance limitations,” said Pierce.

Hampstead Heath finished second in both of his races, including the Cup and Saucer, which, like the Coronation, is restricted to Canadian-breds.

Recent maiden winner Classic Bryce was supplemented at a cost of $5,000.