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Woodbine notes: Gentleman Jackson is Drexler's latest claiming success
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Marty Drexler struck gold with a claim here in summer 2010, taking Wild Marie for $40,000 and sending her out to earn more than $200,000 and win the Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes last spring.
And now Drexler is back in the spotlight with Gentleman Jackson, a 5-year-old gelding whom he claimed for $12,500 here last November and who has since banked $187,486 for owner Frank Cirillo.
“He turned out to be handy,” Drexler said in what may rank as the understatement of the season.
Gentleman Jackson wired a difficult field after breaking from post 1 in a seven-furlong optional $62,500 claiming race while racing under the second-level allowance clause here last Sunday.
That victory was the third straight for the Kentucky-bred Gentleman Jackson, who had prevailed in the same classification while racing for the $62,500 claiming price here Nov. 11 after clearing his first allowance condition five weeks earlier.
“It’s one thing to claim one for $12,500 and think that you have a handy horse,” Drexler said. “It’s another thing when you take the horse and now you’re in a spot when you can’t run him back for the $62,000 price tag because you’d worry about losing him.”
Gentleman Jackson had been claimed on four previous occasions before catching Drexler’s eye here last fall.
“I’d seen him train on the sand ring and liked how he moved,” Drexler said. “He had his first-level allowance; I look for those kind of horses a lot of the time.
“And when you watched some of his earlier races, he did flash some instances of really big ability. He was hit-and-miss at the time, it seemed like, but I thought he was worth $12,500. In the worst-case scenario I thought he was going to be a $12,000-$16,000-$20,000-type of horse.”
Despite his winning manners on the racetrack, Gentleman Jackson can be a rough customer in the mornings.
“I give my gallop boy, Troy Sinclair, a lot of credit,” Drexler said. “You have to ride him a certain way, and you just play around with him. He’s basically a run-off if you don’t do it the right way. He will get away on you.”
Because of that feisty nature, Drexler prefers the relative quiet of the sand ring here for Gentleman Jackson’s morning exercises.
“I think he’s a horse you can easily overtrain,“ Drexler said. “We don’t train him real hard. Once he got fit, we just keep him happy and just do enough that he doesn’t go crazy on us.”
She’s Scary, a Florida-bred 3-year-old filly, was claimed for $20,000 by Drexler here Oct. 7 and will debut for her new barn for the same price Thursday.
Purchased as a 2-year-old in training last year in Florida, She’s Scary made her first six starts for owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse before being sold privately and winning her maiden for $23,500 in her first and last start for trainer Nick Gonzalez.
“They paid $260,000 for her,” Drexler said. “At some point, you’d think that some of that’s going to come out.
“She has a couple of little issues, but it’s not overall too bad. I like her enough.
“I think she’ll improve a little bit. She had a lot of time, she’s fresh. She had some good works. I think she’s going to run okay. She’s got Contreras on her, which doesn’t hurt.”
Luis Contreras, leading rider at the meeting, will be riding She’s Scary for the first time.
Sky of Grey, haltered for $16,000 by Drexler for owner Cirillo here Nov. 14, finished fifth when making his first start for his new connections here in last Sunday’s $126,800 Sir Barton Stakes.
“I was very pleased with his race,” said Drexler, who had watched the 5-year-old Sky of Grey close from 11th place in the field of 12 in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton. “That was just a shot we wanted to take.
“He got an 80 [Beyer Speed Figure]. I thought that was pretty good improvement and I think the horse will be handy next year.
“He’s very nice. He’s another one who can get his first-level allowance.”
Two stakes left at meet
Only two stakes remain on the schedule here, with the Ontario Lassie set for this Sunday and the Valedictory, the traditional closing-day feature, scheduled for Dec. 16.
The $150,000 Ontario Lassie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies, is expected to attract a short field headed by Original Script.
A homebred who races for Chiefswood Stable and is trained by Paul Attard, Original Script is perfect in two starts to date, both at 1 1/16 miles.
Others on target for the Ontario Lassie include Dancing Bay, who is coming off a third-place finish for trainer Brian Lynch in the 1 1/16-mile South Ocean for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies, and Rutherford Rd, last-out winner of a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles for trainer Michael Doyle.
Also eyeing the Ontario Lassie is Aunt Els who has won her last two starts for trainer Norm McKnight. McKnight plans to supplement her to the stakes if all remains well on entry day.
Owned and bred by the R.M.C. Stable of Sid Cooper, Aunt Els breezed five furlongs in 1:03.80 here Tuesday morning.
“She went well,” McKnight said. “We didn’t want any speed out of her.”
The Valedictory, which at 1 3/4 miles is the longest stakes race of the Ontario season, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.
Peyton, sent out by Doyle to score an impressive victory in the 1 1/2-mile allowance prep for the Valedictory, and Quaesitor, the third-place finisher there for trainer Ian Howard, both are scheduled to return in the main event.
And, stakes manager Julie Bell reports that the 6-year-old Eye of the Leopard, runner-up in the 2010 Valedictory and third in the race last year, could return for a third appearance.
Winner of the Queen’s Plate and Canada’s champion 3-year-old male in 2009, Eye of the Leopard was sold by Sam-Son Farm this fall and is based at Churchill Downs with trainer Wayne Lukas.
In two starts for new owners Bluegrass Hall LLC, Eye of the Leopard ended eighth of 10 in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Fayette over 1 1/8 miles of Polytrack and last of nine in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the Churchill Downs dirt surface.
Anything is possible at Woodbine, land of the polyester and betting insiders information. It offers the overly ambitious all kinds of avenues to channel their abilities through the claiming ranks by befriending the clocker or the racing secretary’s office especially when your connections to the vet are extremely questionable. The rise has been spectacular from Fort Erie to Woodbine but then again a lot of trainers had great feats accomplished until the barn tests proved that their training techniques were nothing but scheming affairs of the secretive kind.
Kinda doubt D.Wayne would waste his time shipping back here. If the horse lost to local stock it would expose the horse for what he really is and Lucas for what he really is, an average trainer with clients with very deep pockets. He is a wonderfully bred little Canadian horse that might be competitive in a non winners of a Ham Sandwich on a weekday but certainly not the spots he has been placed in recently. Although the company he would be facing here is definitely softer than his last couple, it is questionable whether his current connections will move him up enough to beat even this moderate bunch. If he does show up in the entries perhaps that is the tip off that he lays over this bunch. As previously expressed, good old D. Wayne couldn't afford to lose this race against a field like this.
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