08/08/2012 2:24PM

Woodbine notes: Highs and lows for Buttigieg in Shepperton Stakes

Michael Burns
Royal Egbert scores a wire-to-wire victory in Monday’s $125,000 Shepperton at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Monday’s $125,000 Shepperton Stakes had bittersweet consequences for Paul Buttigieg, the owner, trainer, and breeder of both Royal Egbert and Gypsy Ring.

Royal Egbert, a 4-year-old gelding who was seeking his third consecutive win and making his stakes debut, went coast to coast under regular rider Richard Dos Ramos for a convincing four-length victory at odds of 9-2.

But the multiple stakes-winning 6-year-old gelding Gypsy Ring was struggling home fourth as the odds-on favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong Shepperton for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.

“It looked like he took a bad step going into the far turn,” Buttigieg said. “He pulled suspensories. He’s out for the year, for sure, and probably done. It’s not life-threatening.”

Gypsy Ring has compiled a record of 8-8-5 from 26 starts, earning $706,334. His three stakes wins came in restricted Polytrack sprints, but Gypsy Ring also was effective on turf and finished third in both the Grade 1 Nearctic and Grade 2 Highlander at six furlongs.

“This horse has been a lot of fun and made me a lot of money,” Buttigieg said. “If he doesn’t come back as a good horse, I’ll turn him out in a field with Rushiscomingup and Elated Guy.”

Rushingiscomingup, trained and partly owned by Buttigieg, retired as a stakes winner of almost $400,000 in 1999 and is now 19 years old.

Elated Guy, a multiple stakes winner trained and partly owned by Bob Tiller, also retired in 1999 after earning almost $1 million and is 23 years old.

Royal Egbert, who boosted his bankroll to $181,947 with his Shepperton score, now looms as Buttigieg’s sole colorbearer for the $125,000 Overskate here Sept. 22.

“I told him he’s got a big pair of shoes to fill,” said Buttigieg, who watched Gypsy Ring earn his first stakes win in last year’s seven-furlong Overskate for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.

“The horse is not 100 percent developed the way I’d him to be, but he’s really got the speed. I think he’ll get better as he goes along.”

Artic Fern targets Play the King

Artic Fern earned a shot at the Aug. 26 Play the King by capturing the 6 1/2-furlong allowance prep for that stakes on the turf here Monday.

The Aug. 26 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and up, offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $200,000. It is the major local stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 16.

Mike Keogh, who trains the 5-year-old homebred for Gustav Schickedanz, had changed Artic Fern’s regimen recently by galloping him in the spacious field referred to as “Baker’s Acres.”

“He tends to tie up quite badly,” said Keogh, using the term that describes severe muscle cramping after exercise. “He’s happy out there.”

Artic Fern also employed a different style under new regular rider Tyler Pizarro as he closed from fifth place to score by a neck.

“He rated really nice for him,” Keogh said.

Next race undecided for Ultimate Destiny

Keogh is uncertain as to his next move with Ultimate Destiny, who finished a well-beaten eighth when making his turf debut in last Sunday’s 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Stakes.

“I’m not sure if it was the distance or the turf,” said Keogh, who trains Ultimate Destiny for Brenda Selwyn Waxman. “He got struck into a little bit, on a tendon, but it wasn’t enough to stop him.”

Ultimate Destiny could make his next start in the $125,000 Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds on Sept. 2.

But as a $16,000 purchase at the local Canadian Thoroughbred Society yearling sale, Ultimate Destiny also could go in either the 1 1/16-mile Elgin or the Halton, a one-mile turf race, on Sept. 3. Both the Halton and Elgin are $125,000 races for 3-year-olds and up.

Seaneen Girl steps up for Debutante

Seaneen Girl, a 5 3/4-length winner when debuting in a $50,000 maiden claiming race at 4 1/2 furlongs here June 22, will be attempting to double up in Saturday’s $150,000 Ontario Debutante Stakes.

The Ontario Debutante, an open six-furlong race for fillies and mares, attracted a field of six.

“She’s doing very well,” said trainer Bob Tiller, who owns Seaneen Girl in partnership with Rolph Davis. “I don’t know how good these other fillies are. Obviously, we’re going upward from our last start.

“But I think this filly has some ability. She’s fit and ready, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she ran a big race and got a good piece of this purse.”

Seaneen Girl will be ridden by Eurico da Silva in an Ontario Debutante field headed by Just Got In, winner of her two starts including the five-furlong My Dear Stakes here June 24.

Ricky Griffith trains Just Got In and also has entered Tracey’s Smile, who finished second to Seaneen Girl in her second and most recent outing.

Lady Bear, a 9 3/4-length winner at five furlongs when in for $32,000 first crack out, and Bwana Go Fast, who graduated for $20,000 over 6 1/2 furlongs in her second outing, complete the lineup.

Wilson riding in jockey series

Emma-Jayne Wilson is in England this week and will be competing in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, a six-race series featuring jockeys from around the world.

Wilson, who will be making her second appearance in the Shergar Cup, will be partnering with fellow Canadian Chantal Sutherland, who currently is based at Del Mar, and England’s Hayley Turner as one of four teams in the event.

The well-traveled Wilson also competed in the 2006 Shergar Cup, in the 2007 International Jockey Challenge in Hong Kong, and in the last two editions of the female jockey challenge at Pimlico, winning in 2011.

Following the Hong Kong series, Wilson returned to ride there regularly over the winter.

Wilson also has competed during Ontario’s off season at Fair Grounds, Gulfstream, and Parx Racing and has been at several other tracks south of the border for stakes assignments.

She will be flying out of London on Saturday evening and will be back in action here Sunday.

Woodbine backstretch tours

Woodbine television host Renee Kierans will be hosting her second summer tour of the backstretch this Saturday, beginning from the trackside tent at the east end of the grandstand.

A continental breakfast will be available at 10:30 a.m., and buses leave for the backstretch at 11 a.m.

For details or to pre-register visit woodbineentertainment.com/seminars.