05/21/2012 2:37PM

Woodbine notes: Roxy Gap in fine form

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Michael Burns
Roxy Gap, with Patrick Husbands riding, wins the Hendrie.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Roxy Gap is back in the groove.

On Sunday, with her regular rider Patrick Husbands doing the honors, Roxy Gap rallied from just off the pace for a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2, 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie Stakes.

Four weeks earlier, the 4-year-year filly had employed a similar style en route to scoring by a neck in the Grade 3, six-furlong Whimsical.

“She did what she had to do,” said Mark Casse, who had watched Roxy Gap break from the rail and prevail in a shortened field of six for the Hendrie.

“She rated a little better, which was nice, and she can a career high 96 Beyer.”

With the next scheduled open main-track stakes sprint for the filly/mare division being the Grade 3 Seaway on Sept. 1, Casse will be exploring other options for Roxy Gap, including the Grade 2 Nassau here June 2.

“I would love to run her in the Nassau, at one mile on the turf, but that would mean coming back in two weeks,” said Casse. “It’s not ideal. It’s 50-50.

“Right now, one goal is to make her Canada’s champion sprinter. We’ve got to keep that in mind.”

Roxy Gap was foaled in Ontario by her owner, Eugene Melnyk, and that birthright has earned her $30,000 bonuses on top of the regular $90,000 first-place prizes in the Whimsical and Hendrie. Her career earnings now stand at $595,373.

Atlantic Hurricane getting break

Atlantic Hurricane, who was Canada’s champion female sprinter in 2011 but finished third in the Whimsical, was scratched from the Hendrie.

“Her blood levels are a little out of whack, and we don’t want to run her when she’s not absolutely 100 percent,” said Stu Simon, who trains Atlantic Hurricane and is a part-owner of the 5-year-old.

“We’ll give her a week on the farm, and bring her back in. I’m sure she’ll be fine.

“There are so many options for her – turf, Poly, and I think she’ll run long. I don’t want to rush her.”

Anne’s Beauty retired after injury

Anne’s Beauty, who finished last of six as the 2-1 second choice in the Hendrie, was injured during the running and has been retired.

“She ruptured her tendon,” said Paul Attard, who trains the Kentucky-bred 4-year-old Anne’s Beauty for owner Rob Smithen.

“The vets said it was completely a result of a bad step. There was no pre-existing condition. She’ll be \Anne’s Beauty earned $402,792 while compiling a record of 4-2-2 from 11 starts.

Her stakes successes included Woodbine’s Grade 3 Ontario Colleen over one mile on turf, plus the Duchess and Glorious Song, both at seven furlongs on Polytrack. Her second-place finishes came here in the Grade 3 Selene and the listed La Lorgnette, both at 1 1/16 miles.

Hothersal looking sharp

Hothersal, who breezed four furlongs in a bullet 46.40 seconds here Sunday under Husbands, is slated to make his stakes debut for Melnyk and Casse here in Saturday’s Eclipse.

The Eclipse, a 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

“That horse is something,” said Casse, who took over as Hothersal’s trainer this year and has sent out the 4-year-old colt to finish second in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Gulfstream and to win that condition over 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack here.

“I think he’s one of the more talented horses I’ve had. If can he stay healthy, I think the sky’s the limit.”

Hothersal will be making just his fifth career start and Casse points out that his two losses, both second-place finishes, came at the hands of subsequent Grade 1 stakes winner Data Link and Grade 2 stakes winner Casino Host.

“It’s a little quick to try this, maybe than you’d like, but he couldn’t be training any better,” said Casse. “I think he’s ready.”

A pair of firsts

The 3-year-old filly Blues Dancing and her 29-year-old trainer Katerina Vassilieva both recorded their first stakes wins here in Sunday’s $125,000 La Lorgnette.

Blues Dancing, owned by Dominic Triumbari, had wintered with Vassilieva at Gulfstream Park and was stretching out to seven furlongs for the Lady Angela after landing her first restricted allowance condition in her local seasonal debut at five furlongs.

“She’d never gone seven furlongs, but I thought she could do it,” said Vassilieva, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, but has been in Canada since 1989.

“We took the blinkers off her, when we came back from Florida. We were hoping to control her speed,and get her to relax.”

Although Blues Dancing led all the way in the restricted Lady Angela, she did so through manageable fractions and was never seriously threatened en route to a 3 3/4-length victory.

“It’s a thrill,” said Vassilieva, who took out her trainer’s license last year after working as an assistant to Michael Pino for two years. Before that, Vassilieva had spent two years as an exercise rider for the Reade Baker barn.

Vassilieva, who has 10 stalls here, was sending out her fourth winner from five starters at Woodbine after compiling a 3-1-2 mark with her 7 entrants at Gulfstream.

Blues Dancing, an $8,000 buy at the open local yearling sale, has earned $131,255 via a record of 3-1-1 from 6 outings.

Turf works for Connaught Cup

Sunday’s feature will be the Grade 2, $150,000 Connaught Cup, a seven-furlong turf race for 4-year-olds and upward, and the turf training course was open this past Sunday in a special session for horses nominated to the stakes.

Stormy Lord, the defending champion in the Connaught Cup, and Riding the River, who just missed in the Grade 2 Play the King over seven furlongs of turf here last summer, were the only two horses to breeze over the firm going.

Regular rider Justin Nixon was in the irons as Stormy Lord went in 59.20 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.60 for trainer Ian Black.

Riding the River, trained by Dave Cotey, was clocked in 1:02.80 and galloped six furlongs in 1:15.40 under Todd Kabel, who has the call for the Connaught.

Apprentice Chernetz gets first career win

Cotey sent out his first winner of the meeting here Saturday, and the occasion was an even more memorable one for 19-year-old apprentice rider Skye Chernetz, who was recording her first career winner.

“It felt great,” said Chernetz, who had guided Sheza Rounder to a three-quarter-length score in the maiden $20,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles.

The mount was the 10th in the career of Chernetz, who started April 28, and came one day after she had suffered a head beat aboard Tudor Rule as the runner-up in a maiden $12,500 claimer.

“It was so close – I was saying ‘I’m going to get there, I’m going to get there’,” said Chernetz. “I was disappointed, but still happy. I got a taste of it.”

Chernetz is the daughter of Bonnie Eshelman, who is acting as her agent and rode from 1972 through 1987 under her former name, Bonnie Czusdi.