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Woodbine notes: So Long George steps up in King Edward Stakes
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – So Long George has displayed a winning touch for trainer John Charalambous.
Now, after a brief interruption in training when his barn was under quarantine, So Long George will be getting the acid test in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine.
So Long George, who races for Leonard Zenith’s Up Hill Stable, has started once this season, knocking out his second allowance condition in an optional $62,500 claiming race at seven furlongs of turf.
“It was a tough nonwinners of two,” Charalambous said. “We were thinking about this race before we went into quarantine, but we didn’t know his status after that.”
Barn 3, which is home to the Charalambous runners, was shut down June 12 due to the presence of a stable pony who had been in contact with five horses that tested positive for the equine herpesvirus in Barn 1.
Barn 1 remains under quarantine, with the horses there allowed to resume training in special after-hours sessions Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Barn 3 runners were back on the track last Saturday after getting the all-clear from the Ontario Racing Commission.
“We only missed two days’ training,” Charalambous said. “There wasn’t anything else coming up for him at his next level, so we’re going to give him a chance here.
“He’s always a horse that’s lifted his game up, and he’ll have to lift it up some more with these. He’s a competitive horse, with lots of character. I’m pretty excited about running him here.”
Emma-Jayne Wilson has ridden So Long George to his five career wins. But, with Charalambous not sure about the quarantine situation, he gave Wilson the green light to seek another mount and she will be riding Hotep on Sunday.
Tyler Pizarro will ride So Long George for the first time in the King Edward.
Attard still hoping to make stakes
All of the horses in Barn 1 tested negative for the herpesvirus recently. Those horses must test negative for a second time, with the results of those tests expected this weekend. If all tests are negative, the quarantine could be lifted by Wednesday.
In the meantime, the easing of the training restriction couldn’t have come too soon for trainer Paul Attard.
“It’s good to be back,” said Attard, whose clients include the powerful Chiefswood Stable.
Original Script and Awesome Overture, two of Attard’s Chiefswood charges, are eyeing stakes races here on the upcoming long weekend.
Original Script, who is coming off a third-place finish in the June 9 Woodbine Oaks, would be a leading contender in the June 30 $250,000 Bison City, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.
Awesome Overture, a 4-year-old colt who is perfect in three starts, is looking to make his stakes debut in the July 1 $150,000 Dominion Day, a 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that offers Grade 3 status.
“They missed eight days of training,” Attard said. “They both were in Florida all winter, they’ve both run twice here, and they ran not long before this happened, so it’s not that bad.”
The virus led to the euthanization of a 2-year-old trained by Tom O’Keefe and a second 2-year-old trained by Attard was sent to the veterinary clinic at the nearby University of Guelph.
That colt, Ted W, is trained by Attard for former restaurateur and long-time owner and breeder George Bigliardi.
“He’s going to the farm on Monday,” Bigliardi said. “He won’t be able to run this year – next year, maybe.”
Ted W, bred by Bigliardi, is a full brother to Niigon’s Princess, who has earned $246,199.
Bigliardi also has two horses here with trainer Sid Attard.
Here’s George, a homebred 3-year-old colt by Philanthropist out of Verne’s Lady, debuted here June 9 and missed by a head as the runner-up in an Ontario-sired maiden race at six furlongs.
Plenty of Honour, a homebred 2-year-old filly by Thewayyouare out of Saints A Plenty, has been training forwardly toward her debut.
James Street drills for Dominion Day
James Street, trained by Josie Carroll, breezed six furlongs in 1:14.20 here Friday in preparation for the Dominion Day.
“He went very well,” said Carroll, who trains the homebred 6-year-old horse for Eugene Melnyk.
Gary Boulanger was aboard for the breeze and has the call for the Dominion Day.
James Street was third, beaten a neck and a head, when making his previous start here in the Grade 2 Eclipse at 1 1/16 miles on May 12.
Alpha Bettor and Delegation, the top two finishers in that race, also are expected back for the holiday Monday feature.
Bert’s Bar, another Melnyk homebred in the Carroll stable, is pointing to the $150,000 Achievement Stakes on June 29.
The Achievement, a six-furlong race for Ontario-bred 3-year-olds, would be the stakes debut for Bert’s Bar, who graduated by an emphatic 6 1/2 lengths in his last outing at seven furlongs here June 2.
Strut the Course eyes Bison City
Strut the Course, who is under consideration for the Bison City, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 here Friday under her regular rider Tyler Pizarro. Trained by Barbara Minshall, Strut the Course opened her sophomore campaign by landing her first restricted allowance condition at seven furlongs but then ran fourth as the odds-on choice in the restricted Lady Angela at the same distance.
Strandberg makes local debut
Apprentice jockey Mallory Strandberg, the newest member of the Woodbine riding colony, made her debut here Friday, with the 23-year-old having two mounts. Both went off as the longest shots on the board in their respective races, with Highland Flare finishing fifth of seven at 18-1 and T C Tucker finishing 11th of 13 at 117-1.
Mallory was born in Grand Forks, British Columbia, but raised in Washington state.
“My parents owned a ranch there,” Strandberg said. “I grew up riding horses.”
Two years ago, Mallory enrolled in Chris McCarrron’s Riding Academy.
“I interned with Bill Mott at Payson Park and galloped horses in New York for Dale Romans,” Strandberg said. “I hooked up with the Stronachs in Maryland, and I got to gallop there and meet people before I started riding.”
Strandberg debuted at Laurel with a third-place finish March 7 and won for the first time there with her 13th mount on March 22. She has added six wins since, with two coming at Laurel, two at Pimlico, one at Turfway Park, and one at Charles Town.
When the Pimlico meet ended, Strandberg began thinking about a new base.
“I’d been looking for somewhere to ride, and I thought if I was going to go to Woodbine I needed to go with some wins behind me,” Strandberg said.
Al Raymond, who represents journeymen Matt Moore and Martin Ramirez, is Strandberg’s agent.
◗ Woodbine’s Sandy Hawley and Keith McCalmont will be hosting a tour of the backstretch next Saturday. Pre-registration is available at woodbineentertainment.com/seminars and space is limited.
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