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Woodbine notes: Up With the Birds gets distance test in Breeders' Stakes
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, often becomes an anticlimax to the series.
Such is the case this year, as Midnight Aria is on the farm following his taxing effort here in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate and Uncaptured returned to Churchill Downs with an eye toward fall stakes in Philadelphia after confirming his preference for dirt with a victory in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.
With the possibility of a Canadian Triple Crown winner long gone, there has been little buildup to the Breeders’ Stakes, and the draw for the race was conducted without any fanfare along with the other nine races on Sunday’s program.
Up With the Birds, the marquee player in the field of 10 for the Breeders’ Stakes, has been freshened since his unlucky second-place finish in the July 7 Queen’s Plate. Eurico Rosa Da Silva will retain the mount on Up With the Birds, the 6-5 favorite on Woodbine oddsmaker Ernie Perri’s morning line.
Up With the Birds, a Sam-Son Farm homebred trained by Malcolm Pierce, has won three stakes and $570,641 and is proven on turf.
“I’m hoping he can get the mile and a half in this spot,” Pierce said. “He’s doing good; he’s on target.”
Global Express comes into the Breeders’ with just a maiden win from three starts, but that success came at 1 3/8 miles on turf, and he has the Roger Attfield factor in his corner. Attfield will be looking for his ninth Breeders’ win, and Global Express has been made the 5-2 second choice.
Pyrite Mountain disappointed in the Queen’s Plate, finishing a distant seventh after winning the Wando Stakes and running well in the Plate Trial here. Trained by Mark Frostad, Pyrite Mountain finished a troubled fourth in his only attempt on turf, which came under first-level allowance terms in a one-mile race at Gulfstream Park in March.
“If you look at his breeding, you’d think he’d be more of a miler,” said Frostad, who trains Pyrite Mountain for Awesome Again Racing Limited Partners. “But he’s doing great, training great. He’s got that kick. If he gets a pace to run at, who knows?”
Gary Boulanger will ride Pyrite Mountain, the 6-1 third choice.
River Seven will be the only horse to compete in all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown this year, having finished a well-beaten 10th in the Queen’s Plate before rebounding to run second in the Prince of Wales.
Trained by Nick Gonzalez, River Seven will be ridden by a different jockey for the third time in the series as Jesse Campbell has picked up the mount on the 8-1 fourth choice.
Owned by the Tucci Stable of Carlo and Lou Tucci, River Seven will be trying turf for the first time.
“I think he’ll do anything you ask him to do,” said Martha Gonzalez, the wife and assistant to Nick Gonzalez.
The Breeders’ field is rounded out by Scipio, Highland Bay, Dragon Puff, Bookies Nightmare, Faithful Rose, and Who’s Mr. Hughes, who was supplemented to the Breeders’ at a cost of $12,500.
“I talked to Gus about it, and he said, ‘I’m a sportsman. Let’s do it,’ ” said Mike Keogh, who conditions Who’s Mr. Hughes for owner and breeder Gustav Schickedanz. “It’s just the fact that he does act like he’d get the trip. He got a mile and a quarter, no problem, and galloped out good. That’s always a question mark in this race, whether you’re going to get the mile and a half, no matter how good they are.”
Trying turf for the first time in his most recent start, Who’s Mr. Hughes finished a closing third in a 1 1/4-mile, $20,000 starter allowance under regular rider Omar Moreno.
Who’s Mr. Hughes also has an interesting pedigree, as he is by Langfuhr out of Half Sister, who is a half-sister to Kathie’s Colleen. Wando, who became Canada’s most recent Triple Crown winner when capturing the Breeders’ in 2003, is a son of Langfuhr and Kathie’s Colleen.
Irish Mission facing males
Irish Mission, who won last year’s Breeders’ Stakes, was scratched from Wednesday night’s Flaming Page Stakes and will take on the boys in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sky Classic at 1 1/4 miles on turf.
“I would think she’d fit there off her last race and the way she’s come around,” said Frostad, who trains the 4-year-old filly for Robert S. Evans.
Irish Mission is coming off a 9 1/4-length win in the prep for the Flaming Page over 1 3/8 miles on turf here July 24.
The Sky Classic drew a field of eight, including Forte Dei Marmi and Perfect Timber, first and second in the Grade 3 Singspiel in their most recent starts for Attfield; Hampstead Heath and Grand Arch, second and third when last appearing in the Grade 2 Nijinsky for Brian Lynch; Classic Bryce and Hotep, the fourth- and sixth-place finishers in the Nijinsky; and Peyton, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup on Polytrack.
Left a Message heading to Kentucky
Trainer Tom Proctor’s main focus this week has been on Arlington Park, where he will send out the favored Marketing Mix in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Beverly D. But Proctor also had eye on Woodbine on Wednesday evening, when his Left a Message was a 3 1/2-length winner under Luis Contreras in the 1 1/2-mile Flaming Page for fillies and mares.
“We were looking for some distance races to run this filly in,” said Proctor, who had just deplaned when he tuned in to watch Left a Message become a stakes winner in the $101,200 race.
Proctor said Left a Message’s next target is the $150,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon, a 1 5/16-mile turf race Sept. 7.
Both Marketing Mix, an Ontario-bred, and Left a Message, a Kentucky-bred, race for Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm.
◗ Pender Harbour breezed four furlongs in 49.80 seconds on the main track here Thursday under Contreras in preparation for a yearling sales stakes Aug. 28. Trained by Mike De Paulo, Pender Harbour won last year’s 1 1/16-mile Elgin Stakes for colts and geldings on the main track and is nominated to both that race and the Halton, the one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up on the yearling sales stakes program. Both races are worth $125,000 apiece.