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Woodbine notes: Last bullet in Baker's arsenal for Queen's Plate is a maiden
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Reade Baker t rained four of the 28 Canadian-bred 3-year-olds who remained eligible for the July 7 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine after the June 1 payment stage.
But with Holy Whirl Wind finishing ninth of 10 in last Sunday’s Plate Trial, Downtown falling behind schedule, and Silent Admirer currently not under consideration, a maiden, Scipio, was Baker’s only Queen’s Plate prospect as of Wednesday morning.
“He’s the last man standing,” Baker said.
Scipio still has much to prove but can take a major step in the right direction by winning a 1 1/8-mile maiden race here Friday afternoon.
Owned by Stronach Stable, Scipio is stretching out from a third-place finish in a seven-furlong allowance here April 26 from which the winner, runner-up, and fourth-place finisher have come back to take their next starts.
“I like him,” Baker said. “The mile and an eighth is not a concern at all.”
Silent Admirer also is entered on Friday’s program, in a restricted first-level allowance for nonwinners of two at 1 1/16 miles.
Owned by the Stronach-formed Ghostzapper Racing Partnership, Silent Admirer was an impressive debut winner at six furlongs here on Dec. 15.
After wintering with Baker at Palm Meadows, Silent Admirer returned with a second-place finish in a restricted first-level allowance at seven furlongs here May 3.
“I like him – he’s done everything right – but he’s very unlikely to proceed to the Plate,” Baker said.
“To be honest with you, when he works, he doesn’t have those big gallop-outs. I don’t know if it means he just knows the work is over or if he doesn’t want to go that far.”
Silent Admirer’s opposition in Friday’s sixth race includes Queen’s Plate nominees Niigon’s Glory, Dragon Puff, and Philego.
Go Blue or Go Home surprises
Baker was at Presque Isle Downs on Monday to watch Go Blue or Go Home capture the Karl Boyes Memorial over 5 1/2 furlongs on the Tapeta surface by two lengths.
The race was the first for Go Blue or Go Home, a Virginia-bred 4-year-old owned by Jim and Susan Hill, since he won a second-level allowance over five furlongs of turf at Churchill Downs last Nov. 8.
“I thought he had a chance to run good, but he just demolished them,” Baker said. “I don’t get impressed by much, but I was pretty impressed by that.”
Go Blue or Go Home had journeyed to Pennsylvania to get a race under his belt in preparation for the July 7 Highlander, a six-furlong turf stakes that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $200,000.
Sir Barton’s top pair get rematch
H ead Honcho closed his 2012 campaign with a closing second-place finish behind Fifty Proof in the restricted Sir Barton Stakes here Dec. 2.
On Saturday, the two will meet again in the $125,000 Steady Growth, another 1 1/16-mile stakes race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.
But while Fifty Proof will be making his fourth start of the season after wintering in Florida, Head Honcho will be racing for the first time since the Sir Barton after wintering under local skies.
“He spent the winter at our farm in King City,” said Catherine Day Phillips, who trains Head Honcho for Frank Annecchini and Rocco d’Alimonte.
“We all stayed home. We didn’t take any horses to Florida this year. He jogged a little bit and was back in here in early March.”
Under ideal circumstances, the Steady Growth would have been Head Honcho’s second start of the season.
“He was supposed to run a couple of weeks ago,” said Day Phillips, who had entered Head Honcho on May 25. But he had a bit of a temperature and was a vet scratch. “He missed one breeze, but he came back to breeze well last week.”
Day Phillips also takes heart in the fact that Head Honcho has come out running when beginning each of his three campaigns to date.
The 5-year-old finished second, fourth, and second beaten an aggregate total of slightly more than two lengths while competing at 1 1/16 miles on each occasion.
“He did run late last season, and he’s a hard-trying horse, an honest little horse,” Day Phillips said.
Joining Fifty Proof and Head Honcho in the Steady Growth entries are Good Better Best, an impressive restricted second-level allowance winner over 1 1/16 miles last time out; Ultimate Destiny, seeking to run his 2013 record to 3 for 3 after winning back-to-back allowance sprints; Bobcaygeon, third in last year’s Sir Barton and with a seven-furlong tightener under his belt; Sorry About That and Haverhill, the respective second- and fourth-place finishers in the restricted six-furlong New Providence in their last starts; Seen It All Before, making his first appearance since winning the restricted Vice Regent over one mile of turf here last summer; J J For Dave,fourth while competing at 1 1/16 miles under open-level allowance terms in his last outing; and Sky of Grey, a good fourth when making his seasonal bow in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs .
Moonlit Beauty back on turf
Moonlit Beau ty failed to put her best foot forward when making her seasonal bow in the Ballade, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares here May 18.
On Saturday, Moonlit Beauty will be returning to turf for the Zadracarta Stakes and looking to prove she still has what it takes at age 7.
“She’s just not a six-furlong Poly horse,” said John LeBlanc, who trains Moonlit Beauty for owner/breeder Bill Gierkink. “But she got a lot out of the race.”
Moonlit Beauty will be making her fourth straight appearance in the Zadracarta, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares.
After becoming a stakes winner in the 2011 running of the Zadracarta, Moonlit Beauty finished a troubled 10th the following year and a close fourth last year.
Moonlit Beauty tuned up last Sunday with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.60 with LeBlanc in the irons.
“It was a nice, strong breeze,” the trainer said.
Joining Moonlit Beauty in the Zadracarta lineup will be Bear’s Gem and Dance to the Moon, the 1-2 finishers in the Ballade; Northern Passion and Part the Seas, the third- and sixth-place finishers here in the Grade 2 Nassau over one mile of turf; the Nick Gonzalez-trained pair of Evil Kitten, who finished sixth when making her seasonal bow in the Grade 3 Whimsical at six furlongs, and Awesome Fire, winner of last year’s Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles of turf and making her seasonal bow; Why Katherine, who just missed in a first-level turf allowance at one mile; and the maiden Daylight Cat, coming off a second-place finish to stablemate Akron Moon, who herself ran second here in last Sunday’s Alywow Stakes.