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Woodbine notes: Lewis brings string of 25 for owner Schettine
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Lisa Lewis has raced at numerous tracks throughout the United States, campaigning in California, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York during her career that began in 1991.
Now, the 42-year-old Lewis has set up shop at Woodbine with 25 horses for owner William Schettine, for whom she has been a private trainer for two years.
“William Schettine raced here before and kept wanting to come back,” Lewis said. “He has several Shakespeares, and they seemed to have a lot of luck here, on turf and synthetics.”
Schettine purchased a half-interest in Shakespeare as a 2-year-old in 2003, and the horse went on to win the Woodbine Mile in 2007 before suffering a career-ending tendon injury prior to that year’s Breeders’ Cup.
Shakespeare now stands at Lane’s End in Kentucky, and his Woodbine winners last year included the talented Ontario-bred 2-year-olds Prince Raphael, Shakespeare’s Brew, and Laertes.
Lewis currently has three Ontario-bred 3-year-olds by Shakespeare – Logan Street, Mr. William, and Chautauqua Creek – in training here for Schettine.
All were with Lewis at Gulfstream this winter, but only Logan Street saw action and finished an encouraging ninth, beaten only four lengths after stalking the pace, when traveling 1 1/8 miles in his second start there.
Mr. William, a colt, and Chautauqua Creek, a filly, are unraced.
A couple of horses who could make an immediate impact here for Schettine are the 4-year-old gelding Fast Time and the 4-year-old filly Rosa Salvage.
Fast Time scored in his last two starts at Gulfstream, going wire to wire for $25,000 and then under first-level allowance terms with the former win over five furlongs on turf and the latter over the same distance in sloppy going.
Rose Salvage won under second-level allowance terms in her latest at Gulfstream over five furlongs of turf.
“We have a useful group of horses,” Lewis said. “There’s no big standout just yet; just some nice young horses.”
Lewis, who was in California after being based for 15 years in New York, arrived at Woodbine last week with 257 lifetime winners and purses of more than $8 million to her credit.
“This is the first time I’ve been here,” said Lewis, who was represented by third-place finisher Gospel Singer here in a maiden race in 2006 but was not present for the occasion.
“It seems like a very horse-friendly place, with all the walking paths and different training surfaces. I think it’s going to be a place where we really enjoy being.”
Lewis has taken over the barn that was previously occupied by horses trained by Steve Asmussen. Asmussen had divisions here for the past four meetings, but made a late decision to pass up the stalls reserved for him this year.
The Asmussen barn had won 83 races and close to $8 million while sending out 1,056 starters during that span.
Gonzalez barn off to hot start
The Nick Gonzalez barn certainly has been live through the early weeks of the meeting, with two wins and a total of 11 in-the-money finishers from its first 15 starters.
This weekend, Gonzalez and company will be looking to carry on their good works with some of their main stable hopefuls, with Big Red Mike set to make his seasonal bow in a $79,700 optional claiming race on Saturday and both Logan’s Peak and Awesome Fire entered in Sunday’s $150,000 Fury Stakes.
Big Red Mike, a homebred who races for Dom Romeo’s Terra Racing Stable, won the Plate Trial and Queen’s Plate en route to becoming a Canadian champion as a 3-year-old.
But last season was pretty much a washout for Big Mike Red as he made it to the post with his last start coming June 3.
“He had a bone bruise in his right hind ankle, so we sent him home,” said Martha Gonzalez, wife and the Woodbine-based assistant to Nick Gonzalez, who also has a large string at Fort Erie.
Big Red Mike wintered in Florida, and the plan was to start him in the closing week of the Gulfstream meeting.
“He came up with a minor muscle problem in his shoulder, and we had to back off four or five days,” Gonzalez said. “He’s doing really well now.”
Big Red Mike’s 2012 bow will come under the third-level allowance term in the optional $80,000 claiming race at seven furlongs.
“This should be a good place to get started, and then we’re hoping to head right to the turf,” Gonzalez said. “He ran a real good race first time on the grass last year.”
That effort came in Big Red Mike’s June 3 bow, where he set the pace before finishing third over 1 3/8 miles in an open allowance race that was won by Rahy’s Attorney with Simmard second.
Logan’s Peak and Awesome Fire both finished third in their only previous stakes tries and will be making their second starts of 2012 in the Fury.
Both fillies won their maidens at the $40,000 claiming level and at seven furlongs last year, with Logan’s Peak’s success coming Nov. 12 and Awesome Fire’s on Sept. 15.
Logan’s Peak, who is owned by her breeder Mary Ellen Kennedy and Douglas Menzies, was running for the second time then and returned to the races April 14 with a third-place finish in the six-furlong Star Shoot.
“She’s developed so nicely from one start to the next,” Martha Gonzalez said. “From 2 to 3, it’s like night and day.’
Logan’s Peak wintered in Ontario, starting up Feb. 1 at Pine Valley Training Centre, and Gonzalez believes the filly should take a step forward in the Star Shoot.
“It’s a rough campaign, coming back in 15 days, but she takes it pretty good,” Gonzalez said. “She looks after herself really well, and she’s in really good order. She’s got a lot of racehorse in her.”
Awesome Fire, owned by Hugh Sutherland, won for a second time at a mile and 70 yards here Oct. 28, before winding up her first campaign with a third in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie.
Wintering in Florida, Awesome Fire made her sophomore bow in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream on March 25, but was well beaten over seven furlongs of dirt.
“She just didn’t fare well at Gulfstream,” Gonzalez said. “You just have to write that race right off. She’s doing very well now, and this is a good starting place to see if she’ll fit in this category.”