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Woodbine notes: Big Band Sound back to Polytrack for Mt. Sassafras
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Big Band Sound, who is coming off a close fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes here Oct. 14, is dropping in class and returning to the main track for Saturday’s $100,000 Mt. Sassafras.
The Mt. Sassafras, a seven-furlong overnight stakes that formerly was restricted to Ontario-breds, was not run last year and has resurfaced as an open race that attracted a field of six.
Big Band Sound, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old who is trained by Danny Vella, was beaten a total of 1 1/2 lengths in the Nearctic, a six-furlong turf race that earned the winner, Next Question, a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
“I thought [Big Band Sound] was the best horse,” Vella said. “He was tucked in behind, a few lengths off of it, at the half-mile pole. “But then the horse to his outside got the jump on him. That made us wait and wait and wait, and lose our momentum. Once he got out, he was flying.”
Big Band Sound has made his last five starts on the grass, with his highlight being a convincing victory over seven furlongs in the Play the King.
But Big Band Sound also ran very well on the main track earlier in the meeting, finishing second behind Essence Hit Man in both the six-furlong Jacques Cartier and Grade 3, seven-furlong Vigil.
“I think he’s a little better on turf than Polytrack, but I don’t think there are any Essence Hit Mans in here,” Vella said.
Big Band Sound will break from the inside post in the Mt. Sassafras under new rider Justin Stein.
Something Extra, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old trained by Gail Cox, will be making his first appearance since defeating runner-up Big Band Sound in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup over seven furlongs of turf here May 27.
“He suffered a fractured splint bone that showed up a few days after the race,” Cox said. “We had to take it out. He did all his rehab at the track and he’s been working well, but he might be a work shy.”
Bear’s Chill won the six-furlong Kenora, a yearling sales stakes here Sept. 6, after being claimed for $62,500 from his previous outing.
“I think he’s going to improve a little bit from his last race,” said Sid Attard, who trains Bear’s Chill for owners Carlo and Lou Tucci and has sent out the winners of three of the seven runnings of the Mt. Sassafras, including the two most recent editions.
Bear’s Chill drew the outside post in the field of six and retains the services of leading rider Patrick Husbands.
“He’s got a good post, and seven-eighths should be perfect,” Attard said.
Rounding out the field is Court of the Realm, winner of the Grade 2 King Edward over one mile of turf here last year; Run to the Bank, a hard-knocker who is stepping up in class; and D’s Wando, who has been away for almost 14 months and is making his first start for trainer Paul Attard.
Tiz Ro gets class relief in stakes
Tiz Ro was highly regarded by her connections heading into the Grade 2 Natalma Stakes, a one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies that was run over a yielding turf course. And while Tiz Ro was beaten 5 3/4 lengths there as the eighth-place finisher in the field of 12, the top three finishers are on target for appearances in the Breeders’ Cup and she will be dropping in class for Sunday’s $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes.
The Princess Ellizabeth, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies, attracted a field of 10.
Tiz Ro, who is by Hard Spun out of the Danzig mare, Muskrat Suzie, is a three-quarter sister to Canadian Hall of Fame turf specialist Jambalaya and was purchased at Keeneland last September for $130,000.
Racing for the Raroma Stable of Raj Maharajh, Tiz Ro romped in her only start prior to the Sept. 27 Natalma. Her win came in a race scheduled for turf but contested over six furlongs on the main track.
“The turf in the Natalma was a little slippery, and she didn’t handle it,” trainer Gregory De Gannes said. “After the Natalma, this seemed to be the next natural step. I don’t think the two turns will be a problem; the Hard Spuns seem to be doing quite well at that.”
De Gannes has sent out Tiz Ro to work five furlongs on three occasions since the Natalma, with the latest a 1:00.80 move here last Sunday.
“She breezed quite well,” De Gannes said. “She breezed with an older horse and ran him down. It was quite impressive.”
Luis Contreras retains the mount on Tiz Ro for the Princess Elizabeth, which attracted a field of 10.
Crysta’s Court, who upset the six-furlong Fanfreluche for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies here Sept. 29, is the only stakes winner in the lineup, but Nipissing, who is undefeated in two starts, looms as the probable favorite.
The others in the Princess Elizabeth field are Anfield Park, Cabo Queen, Chelsea Road, Evangeline’s Hope, Nahina, Smartyfly, and Strut the Course.
Campbell loses appeal of ban
Jesse Campbell will be sitting out the upcoming Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday cards after losing his appeal of an earlier ruling.
Campbell rode Lady Geegee, trained by Jim Smith, here in the sixth race on June 14. Lady Geegee finished first but was disqualified and placed sixth after the stewards ruled she had interfered with a rival in upper stretch.
Campbell was suspended for three days but appealed. His hearing took place Tuesday.
Next Sunday, Campbell is scheduled to ride Moonlit Beauty in the $175,000 Maple Leaf Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile race for fillies and mares.
Moonlit Beauty has won her last two starts in Ontario-sired filly and mare company, capturing the Victoriana over 1 1/16 miles of turf and the Classy ’n Smart over 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack for trainer John LeBlanc and owner/breeder Bill Gierkink.
◗ The Labeeb, a $100,000 overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up that was scheduled for one mile of turf, failed to fill while attracting just three entrants and has been scrapped.
◗ Fog enveloped the main track here Thursday morning, and the clockers were able to time only nine of the 56 workers. There were no workouts recorded on the training track.
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