07/19/2013 12:53PM

Woodbine notes: Sky Treasure is horse to beat in Duchess Stakes

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Sky Treasure, an up-and-comer trained by Mark Casse, will be making her stakes debut but looms as the horse to beat here in Sunday’s $125,000 Duchess.

A field of six 3-year-old fillies was entered for the Duchess, a seven-furlong stakes that serves as the supporting feature with the Grade 2, $200,000 Nijinsky.

Sky Treasure debuted with a second-place finish in a seven-furlong maiden race here May 12, then graduated at the same distance June 5. In her most recent start, which came in the 6 1/2-furlong Duchess prep June 30, Sky Treasure was along in time to win by three-quarters of a length over Leigh Court, who also is back for the main event.

“She’s a really talented filly,” said Casse, who conditions the Kentucky-bred Sky Treasure for owner John Oxley. “The reason she got going so late is she had a very serious throat issue, which required surgery. Most horses, with that type of surgery, could not even compete. For her to compete at the level she has, as well as she has, astonishes me.”

Leigh Court was bred in Kentucky by her owner, Eugene Melnyk, and was a first-out winner over six furlongs at Fair Grounds this winter.

After finishing second there at the same distance under first-level allowance terms in her next outing, Leigh Count knocked out that condition in her local debut at seven furlongs April 28.

Three weeks later, Leigh Court stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the Grade 3 Selene Stakes but weakened to finish fifth after opening a long lead through quick fractions.

“I think the prep was a very positive race for her,” said trainer Josie Carroll, who had watched Leigh Court lead until the last few jumps under Gary Boulanger, who has call again Sunday.

Goldstryke Glory showed promise here at 2, winning her maiden in convincing fashion at six furlongs, then finishing second in the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes for trainer Terry Jordan. But the British Columbia-bred filly did not seem quite as effective on dirt at Hastings this season, running second in the Ross McLeod Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs and third in the Emerald Downs Stakes at the same distance.

Owner Barry Holmes has sent Goldstryke Glory back to Woodbine, where she is being trained by Kelly Callaghan. She breezed five furlongs here July 13 in 59 seconds, the quickest of 59 workers at the distance.

Jesse Campbell has picked up the mount.

Completing the field will be Captivating Dancer, who will be seeking her third straight win, with her most recent coming when she raced for the $75,000 tag in a first-level allowance race at one mile on turf June 21; Thats Our Princess, coming off a second-place finish behind an older rival in a first-level allowance at six furlongs on the main track; and Nadurra, beaten 11 lengths when last of six in the Duchess prep and supplemented at a cost of $2,500.