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Woodbine notes: Up With the Birds to make one start before Queen's Plate
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Malcolm Pierce, after wintering at Fair Grounds and stopping over at the Keeneland meet, was back at Woodbine on Thursday.
Among Pierce’s charges who had arrived here before him was Up With the Birds, the Sam-Son Farm homebred 3-year-old colt who ran well in two starts south of the border and is targeting the $1 million Queen’s Plate here July 7.
“He’s doing very well; both of his races were very good,” said Pierce, who sent out Up With the Birds to finish second in both the Black Gold Stakes over about 7 1/2 furlongs on turf at Fair Grounds on March 2 and the Grade 3 Transylvania over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Keeneland on April 5.
“He’s had a little break on the farm in Ocala, [Fla.,] but he hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been back with me in New Orleans,” Pierce said. “I’m quite happy with his progress. Now we’ve got to get back on Polytrack with him.”
Up With the Bird’s three starts here last year came over the Polytrack surface and included a maiden win at a mile and 70 yards and a victory in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.
“Probably, he’ll start breezing on the weekend,” said Pierce, adding that he is considering the $150,000 Marine Stakes, an open, 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds here May 26, or the June 9 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, as a prep race for Up With the Birds ahead of the Queen’s Plate. “We’re looking at one start before the Plate.”
Pierce also said Deceptive Vision, the Sam-Son homebred 3-year-old filly who was the barn’s main hopeful for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks in June, is on the farm in Ocala and will not run in the race.
After finishing second in her seven-furlong debut here Dec. 2, Deceptive Vision put together a two-turn double at a mile and 70 yards, with her most recent start coming Feb. 22. She was scheduled to make her next appearance in a stakes at Keeneland.
“She had to go back home,” Pierce said. “She had a problem which turned into a little bigger problem than we originally anticipated. It’s no surgeries or anything like that, just time. She needed a couple of months off, so she’s out of the Oaks picture.”
Deceptive Vision, by A.P. Indy out of Woodbine Oaks winner and 2004 Canadian 3-year-old filly champion Eye of the Sphynx, is a full sister to Queen’s Plate winner and Canadian 3-year-old male champion Eye of the Leopard.
“It’s a shame because she was just getting rolling,” Pierce said. “She was a tough one to lose.”
Pierce and Sam-Son have other Woodbine Oaks options, however, with the most notable being Dance Again and Smartyfly.
Dance Again, second when debuting over seven furlongs on turf here in October, started three times at Fair Grounds, winning her maiden over 1 1/16 miles on dirt in her second appearance. Last Sunday, Dance Again contested a first-level allowance race over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Keeneland and finished second.
“I was very happy with her race,” Pierce said. “I think we’re just going to take her straight into the Oaks.”
Smartyfly raced here three times at 2, finishing third in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies and then running second in a maiden race at a mile and 70 yards.
A daughter of Smart Strike, Smartyfly is a possibility for the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies here May 4.
Pierce also nominated Tonight We Dance, owned by Mike Ambler, to the Fury, but that filly was entered in Sunday’s first race, a first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies that attracted a field of just five.
Tonight We Dance, second in her debut at seven furlongs here in November, won a maiden race over a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds but then finished seventh in the Allen LaCombe Memorial over 7 1/2 furlongs on soft turf in her most recent appearance March 2.
Awesome Overture returns Sunday
Awesome Overture, who thrust himself into the Queen’s Plate picture with an impressive maiden victory at 1 1/16 miles here last April, will make his first start since then in the third race here Sunday.
While River Rush, the runner-up that day, went on to win last year’s Plate Trial and finish sixth as the favorite in the Queen’s Plate, Awesome Overture went to the sidelines.
“We had to take a chip out of his ankle,” said Paul Attard, who trains the homebred Awesome Overture for Chiefswood Stable. “He came back here in the fall, then I took him to Palm Meadows.”
Awesome Overture went from Florida to Keeneland and was under consideration for a start there.
“We decided to wait for this race,” said Attard, who got lucky when Sunday’s first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles drew a field of only five. “It’s nice to have him back. He’s a talented horse.”
Spring in the Air targets Fury
Spring in the Air, Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2012, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 on the main track here Friday in preparation for the Fury Stakes.
Patrick Husbands was aboard for the drill, which was Spring in the Air’s second breeze here following her disappointing ninth-place finish as the lukewarm favorite in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Ashland on April 6.
“Patrick said, ‘She’s back,’ ” said trainer Mark Casse, who was at his Florida farm Friday after a hectic week at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring auction.
Casse said he also might enter Bold Birdie in the Fury.
Bold Birdie, who, like Spring in the Air, is owned by John Oxley, finished a closing third in a five-furlong, first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies on the first day of the meet here.
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