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Woodbine notes: Court of the Realm back on track for Kennedy Road
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Court of the Realm, winner of the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at one mile on the turf here last year, hasn’t had many chances to show his stuff in 2012 with just three starts to his credit.
But trainer Peter Berringer is hoping to end Court of the Realm’s campaign on a high note when he sends out the 5-year-old horse for Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Kennedy Road Stakes at six furlongs.
“He worked well last weekend,” said Berringer, who had watched Court of the Realm breeze five furlongs in 1:01 under jockey Luis Contreras. “He started slow, then picked it up the last three-eighths and galloped out three-quarters in 1:13 and change.”
Court of the Realm, a Kentucky-bred, was plagued by back problems after running a winning streak to five when making his second start of the season in last year’s King Edward. He was winless in three subsequent outings on the season.
After wintering on Berringer’s nearby farm in Rockwood, Court of the Realm returned late this May in the Connaught Cup, but finished 10th of 11, beaten 18 1/2 lengths, over seven furlongs of turf.
“He needed the race,” said Berringer, who trains Court of the Realm for Aurora Meadows. “The turf was a little bit soft, and he was punching through it. He didn’t like that.”
Following the Connaught Cup, Berringer kept looking for an allowance spot for his stable star.
“I wanted him to get back his confidence,” Berringer said. “But the three-other-thans and four-other-thans are tough to get to go.”
Court of the Realm finally made it to the post here Sept. 7 in an $80,000 optional claiming/third-level allowance race for which he qualified under a nonwinners in the past year clause.
That six-furlong dash came up tough, with former sprint champion Hollywood Hit and Bear Tough Tiger, who is in the Kennedy Road lineup, finishing 1-2.
Seven weeks later, Court of the Realm found an opportunity to run in the Mt. Sassafras, a seven-furlong race that had not been among the original overnight stakes on the schedule released this spring.
Court of the Realm, with Contreras in the irons for the first time, was gaining late when second to Something Extra, another who is back for the Kennedy Road.
“He’s finally back on track,” Berringer said. “He ran really well. He ran his race; that other horse was just better that day.”
But while Court of the Realm was suffering his first defeat over seven furlongs of Polytrack in his first try over the distance and surface, the Kennedy Road will be his shortest trip to date.
“He carries his speed a little better at seven-eighths, but he’s pretty versatile,” Berringersaid. “He’ll do what you ask him to do.”
Wyomia cuts back in Bessarabian
Wyomia, who won the Grade 3 Mazarine at 1 1/16 miles on the main track in October 2011, has been back in trainer Danny Vella’s barn for three weeks and will be looking to run her record to 3 for 3 over the local surface in Saturday’s seven-furlong Bessarabian Stakes.
“She’s in good order,” said Vella, who will be sending out Wyomia for owners Edward Seltzer and Beverlky Anderson. “She just looks like a bigger, stronger version of before.”
Wyomia concluded her first campaign with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.
Returning the following March for trainer Curtis Garrison, Wyomia won the Suncoast Stakes over a mile and 40 yards at Tampa Bay Downs and then finished second, beaten a length, in the Grade 1 Ashland at one mile on Keeneland’s Polytrack surface.
Wyomia also finished third in the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks over 1 1/8 miles of turf at Colonial Downs, but has seen action just twice this season, returning from a five-month layoff to finish third when facing males under third-level allowance terms over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland.
Vella is comfortable with the cutback to seven furlongs and has been impressed with Wyomia’s two works since rejoining his stable.
“She’s not a plodder, that’s for sure,” said Vella. “She’s got a turn of foot.”
Wyomia had her final prep for the Bessarabian on Monday, breezing four furlongs in 48.80 seconds under exercise rider Harold Fortune.
“She worked brilliantly,” Vella said.
Stormy Lord set for River City
Stormy Lord, based here with trainer Ian Black, has been entered at Churchill Downs for Sunday’s River City Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $100,000.
An Ontario-bred 5-year-old gelding, Stormy Lord is coming off a fourth-place finish over 1 1/8 miles of turf in Belmont’s Grade 3 Knickerbocker on Oct. 13.
Assistant trainer Jeff Bowen will saddle Stormy Lord on Sunday.
Miami Deco, an Ontario-bred trained by Brian Lynch, also is in the River City lineup.
Owned by Jim and Susan Hill, Miami Deco is coming off a close third-place finish at Keeneland in the 1 1/2-mile Sycamore after winning a second-level allowance race at 1 1/8 miles on the turf there Oct. 5.
Miami Deco and Stormy Lord finished 1-2 in the 2010 running of the Breeders’ Stakes over 1 1/2 miles of turf.
Sky High Gal, a promising Kentucky-bred 2-year-old filly whom Lynch trains for James Perron, also is slated to see action at Churchill Downs on Sunday in a first-level turf allowance race.
After finishing second in her debut at one mile on the grass, Sky High Gal graduated impressively at seven furlongs on the same course in her last start here Oct. 21.
Excaper ill after Commonwealth Turf
Black reports that Excaper, who finished eighth in last Saturday’s Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs, will be spending a couple of weeks on the farm in Kentucky before continuing his journey south.
“He was sick the next morning,” said Black, who trains the Kentucky-bred 3-year-old for owners Richard Kaster and Frederick Wietling. “He had a temperature and an elevated white blood cell count.”
Excaper, runner-up in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs, has placed in six stakes races, but remains eligible for his second allowance condition.
Black has a couple of options for Really Sharp, who finished third when making his last start in Aqueduct’s Grade 2, one-mile Nashua on Nov. 4.
“I could supplement him to the Display, or I could wait for the Dania Beach at Gulfstream,” said Black, who trains the Kentucky-homebred for Richard and Nancy Kaster.
The $150,000 Display is a 1 1/16-mile race here Dec. 1, while the $100,000 Dania Beach is scheduled for one mile of turf at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 15.
Excaper finished third in the Dania Beach last year.