09/12/2012 1:47PM

Woodbine Mile: Hunters Bay gets first feel of turf

Michael Burns
Hunters Bay (4) has won three of five starts this year, but has yet to run on turf.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Hunters Bay will be looking to earn a distinctive spot in Woodbine Mile history here Sunday when he becomes the first horse to attempt to win the Grade 1, $1 million feature without a previous start on turf.

On Wednesday, Hunters Bay felt a turf course under his hooves for the first time when he galloped the 1 1/2-mile length of the E.P. Taylor layout under exercise rider Martine Pare.

“He seemed fine,” said Reade Baker, who trains Hunters Bay for owner/breeder Frank Stronach. “He was very observant. I wanted him to see what he gets to see from there, being closer to the grandstand and all that stuff.”

Hunters Bay, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old, put together back-to-back Grade 3 stakes wins here in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse and 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day before finishing seventh of nine in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga.

Regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson has the call for the Woodbine Mile.

[WOODBINE MILE: Get PPs, watch Sunday's full card live]

As of Wednesday morning, a field of nine was on tap for the Woodbine Mile, which will be the headliner on a card which also includes the Grade 1, $500,000 Northern Dancer at 1 1/2 miles on the turf; the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the grass; and the listed $150,000 Ontario Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Wise Dan, who will be favored in the Woodbine Mile, is not due to arrive until Friday morning.

All entrants for both the Woodbine Mile and Northern Dancer must be on the grounds and in their stalls by 11 a.m. on Friday. Blood samples will be taken and random spot checks conducted by Woodbine security.

Cityscape breezes mile on Polytrack

Cityscape, who will be the second choice in the Woodbine Mile, took his exercise on the main track Wednesday morning under exercise rider Vilson Desouza.

“He had a steady mile on Polytrack,” said John Dacosta, traveling head lad for Cityscape’s trainer, Roger Charlton. “He’s done everything he needed to do back home. He’s a very clean-winded horse. It’s just a case of giving him a breeze over the turf on Friday, then roll on Sunday.

Cityscape won the Group 1, $5 million Dubai Duty Free over 1 1/8 miles on turf this March and most recently finished second in the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois over one mile on turf at Deauville.

Regular rider James Doyle has the call on Cityscape for the Woodbine Mile.

Five-furlong work for All Star Heart

All Star Heart, prepping for the Canadian, breezed five furlongs on the main turf in 1:01.40 here Wednesday with Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons.

“She went real fine, nice and easy,” said Dan Landers, assistant to All Star Heart’s trainer, Ron McAnally. “We just let her get a feel of the course.”

All Star Heart, owned by Torontonian Gerald Gibbs, had raced here as a 3-year-old before being sent to McAnally in California.

In her last start, All Star Heart finished second, beaten a nose, in Del Mar’s Grade 2 John C. Mabee over 1 1/8 miles on turf. She was subsequently entered there in the Grade 2, $250,000 Yellow Ribbon on Sept. 2, but was scratched with an eye toward the Canadian.

Ojibway Signal joins Northern Dancer cast

The Northern Dancer field has gained an eighth probable starter in Ojibway Signal, who was entered in a second-level optional $80,000 claiming turf race which was scheduled for 1 1/2 miles on Saturday but failed to fill.

Ojibway Signal, owned by trainer David Bell in partnership with Gus Vlahos, is coming off a front-running first-level allowance score over 1 1/2 miles of turf here Aug. 5.