08/28/2013 1:44PM

Woodbine notes: MacRae hoping Acting Naughty behaves in Seaway Stakes

Michael Burns
Acting Naughty, who won the Whimsical Stakes in April, will run in Saturday's Grade 3 Seaway Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Acting Naughty has been a source of both joy and frustration for trainer Don MacRae.

On Saturday, Acting Naughty will look to be on MacRae’s good side when she runs in the seven-furlong Seaway Stakes, a Grade 3 race for fillies and mares that is worth $150,000.

Acting Naughty, a 4-year-old filly whom MacRae claimed for $40,000 here in September 2011, became a stakes winner when making her 2013 debut in the Grade 3 Whimsical at six furlongs and captured the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too in her third start of the meeting.

But MacRae also has watched Acting Naughty lose all chance when rearing at the start and finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Hendrie at 6 1/2 furlongs and be severely compromised by a poor start when third last out in the six-furlong Etobicoke Stakes.

And it’s not as if the trainer hasn’t tried to deal with the problem.

“She schools in the gate before every race,” said MacRae, who trains Acting Naughty for John Hillier. “She never does anything wrong. She walks in, doesn’t move a muscle. She’ll stand there 20 minutes. She’s a quirky filly. When it comes to a race, she just gets geared up.”

MacRae will be making one visible change for the Seaway as Acting Naughty will race without blinkers for the first time since her second career start in July 2011.

“We’ll have pretty much the same game plan,” said MacRae, who will be looking for Acting Naughty to settle early under regular rider Tyler Pizarro and hoping that there is a decent pace at which she can run. “She’s coming into this race like she comes into every one.”

So Long George heads to Saratoga

So Long George, upset winner of the Grade 2 Nijinsky over 1 1/8 miles on turf here July 21, vanned out for Saratoga on Wednesday with trainer John Charalambous and stable hand Ed Dwight for Saturday’s Bernard Baruch Handicap.

The Grade 2 Bernard Baruch, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, offers a purse of $250,000. Charalambous credits one of So Long George’s owners, Leonard Zenith, with hatching the Bernard Baruch plan.

“He didn’t want to run in the Sky Classic,” Charalambous said, refering to the Grade 2, $200,000 turf race at 1 1/4 miles here Aug. 18 that was the next appropriate spot on the local schedule. “The horse would have had to carry six extra pounds at a longer distance, and we wanted to give him a bit more time. This gives him two weeks, and he carries the same weight in a shorter race.”

Emma-Jayne Wilson retains the mount on So Long George, who became a stakes winner in the Nijinsky after finishing a close fourth here in the Grade 2 King Edward over one mile on turf.

“He’s stepped it up every time he’s had to, so we’re going to take a shot,” said Charalambous, whose only previous Saratoga starter was sixth-place finisher Summer Girlfriend in the 2006 running of the Grade 3 Victory Ride.

Valentino Beauty gets a break

Valentino Beauty, the turf specialist who returned to Ontario this spring with an eye on the Woodbine Mile, is heading back to Kentucky after finishing a disappointing eighth of 12 in last Sunday’s Grade 2 Play the King Stakes.

“He bled badly,” said Barbara Minshall, who trains the Kentucky homebred 4-year-old gelding for Bruce Lunsford. “He’ll need some R and R. Maybe with a little luck, they can get him to a race at Keeneland later this fall.”

Valentino Beauty finished a good fourth while making his first local start of the year in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup at seven furlongs May 26 and followed that up with a close second-place finish behind Riding the River in the King Edward.

Prior to cutting back in distance for the Play the King, Valentino Beauty had been beaten 4 1/2 lengths by So Long George when fifth in the Nijinsky.

Hunters Bay readies for 2013 debut

Hunters Bay, last year’s Canadian champion older male, continued preparations for his 2013 debut when he worked four furlongs in 49 seconds on the main track under regular rider Wilson here Wednesday.

Trained by Reade Baker, Hunters Bay was sidelined with bone bruising following his second-place finish to Wise Dan in last September’s Woodbine Mile and had been training at owner Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs North prior to returning to the track last month. Baker briefly entertained the thought of bringing back Hunters Bay in this year’s Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 15.

“I want him to win the first time I run him, and that’s not the place,” said Baker, who will be looking for a spot for Hunters Bay next month.