07/15/2013 1:05PM

Woodbine notes: Chernetz rides first stakes winner in Shady Well

Michael Burns
On Rainbow Bridge, with Skye Chernetz riding, wins the $150,800 Shady Well Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Sunday will be a day to remember for apprentice rider Skye Chernetz, who celebrated her first career stakes win after guiding On Rainbow Bridge to victory in the $150,800 Shady Well.

“It feels good to get the first one,” said Chernetz, who scored a second win on the card for owner Kurt Cobza and trainer Dave Cotey with Miss Giacomo in Sunday’s finale. “It was one of my goals for the year.”

Chernetz was one of the Sovereign Award finalists for outstanding apprentice last year in her first campaign, riding 25 winners. Heading into the current week, she has 18 wins here and is a leading candidate for this year’s award.

On Rainbow Bridge was making her second start in the Shady Well, a 5 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies, after coming from more than 15 lengths back to be beaten just three lengths when third in her 4 1/2-furlong debut.

“She’s come along gradually,” said Cotey, who purchased On Rainbow Bridge for $18,000 at the local select yearling sale. “Last time, she was really green. She broke out with them but took herself out of it. She was looking around.

“I don’t go that much by their first race. I send them over there fit enough that they’re not going to get hurt, but I’d rather see them running on end than be at the front battling their brains out.”

On Rainbow Bridge had breezed twice, both times with Chernetz aboard, since her June 15 debut.

“I worked her out of the gate and then I worked her between horses,” Cotey said.

Those lessons evidently paid off as On Rainbow Bridge was forwardly placed from the outset after breaking from the No. 1 post in the Shady Well. She now will point to the Aug. 3 Nandi, a six-furlong race restricted to Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.

Riding the River works for Nijinsky

On Monday morning, Cotey sent out Riding the River to breeze five furlongs in 58 seconds in preparation for Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Nijinsky Stakes.

Regular rider Todd Kabel was aboard Riding the River, who worked in company with 2-year-old stablemate Danny Ocean.

“He worked really good today,” Kabel said. “The track’s hard and fast, but he did it comfortably.”

Danny Ocean, who is nominated to Saturday’s $150,000 Colin Stakes, was clocked in 58.20 with Chernetz in the irons.

Riding the River, who is owned by Cotey in partnership with Hugh Galbraith and Jim McNair, is the defending the champion in the Nijinsky, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

Surtsey surprises in Ontario Damsel

Surtsey took to the turf with elan here Sunday, springing a 41-1 upset when making her first start on the surface in the $150,000 Ontario Damsel, a one-mile race for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies.

“She definitely ran a dynamite race,” trainer Kevin Attard said. “She had worked well heading in, but she was definitely a bit of a surprise.”

Bred and owned by Yvonne Schwabe, Surtsey became a stakes winner in last year’s six-furlong Fanfreluche on the main track. She was making just her second start of 2013 in the Ontario Damsel after faltering to finish last of six while facing some difficult older rivals under second-level allowance terms June 15.

“In their first race back, they’re a little bit sharper,” Attard said. “They ran the half in 44; she’s not used to that.”

Surtsey had worked twice in the interim under jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan, including a four-furlong breeze on the turf training track here July 5.

“She worked alone, and she’s not really a good work horse when she’s by herself,” Attard said.

Surtsey certainly rose to the occasion in the Ontario Colleen as she stalked the pace under Bridgmohan and moved to the front in midstretch for a going-away victory.

“He rode her to a T,” Attard said. “You couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”

Attard will consult with Schwabe, also the breeder of the previous Sunday’s Queen’s Plate winner Midnight Aria, before determining the next step for Surtsey.

The $250,000 Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies here Aug. 4, will figure in their discussions.

“With the style she showed Sunday, you’d think with the mile and a quarter on this turf course she’d be all right,” said Attard, who also would have the option of the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen, an open one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies on Aug. 17.

Laughing Falcon worth the wait

Trainer Bob Tiller has 45 horses in his barn, and 30 of those are Ontario-sired.

“That’s been my game plan for the kind of owners I have,” Tiller said. “These horses make money, and we’re happy with that.”

A case in point is Laughing Falcon, who was one of three Tiller trainees in last Saturday’s Passing Mood and came away with first money of $75,000 for her owner/breeder, Rolph Davis, in the seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

Laughing Falcon had some issues as a 2-year-old and did not make it to the races.

“She had a big, ugly splint, and we had to give her some time,” Tiller said. “By the time she got going, it was late fall.

“But we knew from Day 1, when we breezed her, that she could run a little bit.”

After wintering at Paul Buttigieg’s farm and coming back in to Tiller when the backstretch opened at the beginning of March, Laughing Falcon was training well and was slated to debut here May 20.

It was not to be, however, as Laughing Falcon flipped in the gate and was scratched.

“It was disappointing,” Tiller said. We were all looking forward to running her, but it’s turned out very well. She’s shown heart and determination and guts.”

Laughing Falcon now is 3 for 3 for earnings of $136,500 after winning his first two starts in restricted company over six furlongs on Polytrack and six furlongs on turf under her regular rider, Matt Moore.

“The tough part now is getting a race for her,” said Tiller, noting that Laughing Falcon had eliminated both her second restricted and first open allowance conditions in winning the Passing Mood.

“The next possibility for her may be the La Prevoyante. She may get a vacation.”

The La Prevoyante, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, will be run here Sept. 7.

In the meantime, Tiller is looking at Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales Stakes as an option for Power Phil, an Ontario-sired 3-year-old he trains for Frank DiGiulio.

The $500,000 Prince of Wales, a 1 3/16-mile race that is the second leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run on Tuesday, July 30.

Power Phil has seen action eight times, winning twice to go with three seconds and as many thirds for earnings of $146,700.

But in each of his last two starts, which came in restricted 1/8-mile allowance races for nonwinners of three, Power Phil has finished second as the odds-on favorite.

“He’s a funny horse,” Tiller said. “He’s disappointed a little, getting beat in his last two starts. He seems to be hooking tiring racetracks.”