04/30/2012 2:07PM

Woodbine: Northern Passion back to her old self


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Getting back to Woodbine proved to be the tonic for Northern Passion, as the 3-year-old filly, trained by Mark Casse, returned to form with an emphatic victory in this past Sunday’s $150,000 Fury Stakes.

And, just for good measure, Dene Court completed a Casse exactor in the seven-furlong stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

“I was very pleased with them,” said Casse, who watched the Fury from his hotel room in Louisville, Ky., where he is preparing Prospective for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Northern Passion, within striking distance while sixth of seventh through the early stage, rallied up the rail for a 1 3/4-length victory under her regular rider, Luis Contreras.

Dene Court had stalked the pace and outfinished all except her stablemate with Patrick Husbands in the irons.

“I probably haven’t made some of the wisest decisions with Northern Passion,” said Casse. “It was nice to see her get back to the winner’s circle. We were expecting a really big effort out of her.”

Northern Passion had won the Grade 3 Natalma at one mile on turf here last summer, earning a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’s Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

But Casse opted for the Juvenile Fillies on the main track at Churchill Downs and Northern Passion finished a well-beaten seventh.

“When she won on the grass, I just ran her there because that was what was available,” said Casse, who trains Northern Passion for John Oxley. “I never had any visions that she was a great grass horse.

“I always thought, if anything, with her breeding she should be a good dirt horse.”

Northern Passion had raced twice on turf in Florida this winter before returning to Woodbine early last month.

“When we brought her back up there, Luis breezed her a couple of times, and he said she was a different horse than she was in Florida.” said Casse.

Dene Court, who races for Eugene Melnyk, had raced twice here last summer, winning her five-furlong debut and then running second in the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well on July 17.

“Patrick got her to rate a little bit,” said Casse. “I think this race will really move her forward.”

Northern Passion and Dene Court are unlikely to meet again in the near future.

“We’re going to keep Dene Court sprinting for now,” said Casse. “She’s by City Zip, so she should like the turf, too.

“Northern Passion will go straight to the Oaks.”

Oaks plans in the works

The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks goes on June 3 and Casse also is planning to run Black Bird Rock and Dixie Strike in the 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Black Bird Rock, a Melnyk homebred, was a one-length winner over 1 1/16 miles on the main track here last Saturday after being well-beaten on the turf in her debut at Gulfstream eight weeks earlier.

“She’s a really talented filly,” said Casse. “They didn’t run fast here, but with all the trouble she got in she probably had the experience of five races.”

Dixie Strike, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 on the main track Sunday, is scheduled to prep for the Woodbine Oaks in the May 13 Selene, an open race for 3-year-old fillies which offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $250,000.

Tu Endie Wei breezes

Tu Endie Wei, a dominant winner of the six-furlong Star Shoot in her seasonal debut here April 14, also is heading for the Selene.

On Sunday morning, Tu Endie Wei breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 on the training track with her regular rider Jim McAleney in the saddle..

“She galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28,” said Reade Baker, who trains the Kentucky homebred Tu Endie Wei for Brereton C. Jones.

Other Baker training-track breezers on Sunday included Bear Tough Tiger, who went in a bullet 59.20 seconds under his regular rider, Quincy Welch.

Bear’s Tough Tiger, a Florida-bred who races for the Bear Stable of Danny Dion, is slated to make his stakes debut here in Sunday’s Vigil.

The Vigil, a seven-furlong race for 4-year-olds and upward, is a Grade 3 worth $150,000.

“He’s ready,” said Baker. “We’ll just see if he’s good enough.”

Hunters Bay, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old horse who Baker trains for Stronach Stables, also was nominated for the Vigil but raced under his third-level allowance condition here last Saturday and was a comfortable winner under Emma-Jayne Wilson.

Trained through his first three starts by Todd Pletcher, Hunters Bay joined Baker’s string at Gulfstream last winter.

“He keeps coming up with tiny issues,” said Baker, who had sent out Hunters Bay to finish second to the major stakes winner Pants On Fire in his only previous 2012 start at Gulfstream eight weeks earlier.

“He could have run again at Gulfstream, but there wasn’t a perfect race for him. We waited for this race at Woodbine, as a prep for the Eclipse.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward, will be run here May 26.

Campbell gets three-day ban

Jesse Campbell will serve a three-day suspension after the stewards ruled that his mount, Coolattin, came out and interfered with Chase the Unknown during the stretch run of last Friday’s fifth race. Coolattin finished first but was disqualified and placed seventh.

The ruling called for Campbell to sit out this coming Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday but he has been granted exemptions to ride in stakes this Friday through Sunday.

Campbell will complete his suspension here Wednesday, May 9 and Friday, May 11.

On Friday, Campbell will be at Churchill Downs to ride Nate’s Mineshaft in the $300,000 Alysheba, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward.

On Saturday, Campbell has the call on Fastestswhogetspaid for the Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds.

Based in Chicago with trainer Michael Stidham, Fastestwhogetspaid won the six-furlong Gazebo at Oaklawn on March 3 but then finished 12th of 14 in Hawthorne’s Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby.

On Sunday, Campbell should be seeking his second straight stakes victory aboard Essence Hit Man in the Vigil.

◗ Jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva has been fined $200 for “failure to persevere” with his mount, the third-place finisher Raincoats’ntuxedos, during last Friday’s fourth race.

The stewards said that Da Silva had stood up in the irons just before the wire.