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Woodbine notes: Tiller looks to continue hot start with Casa Loma in Star Shoot Stakes
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Bob Tiller had an auspicious beginning to the Woodbine meeting, winning two races and finishing in the money with five of his six entrants here opening weekend.
On Saturday, Tiller will be sending out his first stakes starter of the year as Casa Loma will be among six 3-year-old fillies in the $150,000 Star Shoot at six furlongs.
Casa Loma, owned by Rolph Davis, put together back-to-back wins in maiden and first-level allowance company over seven furlongs here last September, but wound up her season on a disappointing note with a distant fifth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie.
“I tried to stretch her out, but that didn’t seem to work,” said Tiller, who sent Casa Loma to Paul Buttigieg’s training center for the first part of the winter and then brought her back into the racetrack in the second week of February.
“Right now, I’m looking at six-and-a-half to seven-furlong races for her.”
Steven Bahen, who piloted Casa Loma to her two victories, will be back aboard, and Tiller will be putting blinkers back on the filly for the Star Shoot.
Tiller also had nominated Grace Phil to the Star Shoot, but that stakes-winning filly will not be participating.
“She’s proved she’ll go long, with Ontario-sired fillies,” said Tiller, who sent out Grace Phil to win her first two starts, including the restricted South Ocean at 1 1/16 miles here last fall.
Grace Phil breezed five furlongs on the main track here Thursday in 59.80 seconds.
Tiller’s most impressive performer here opening weekend was Where Oh Where. The half-sister to the stakes winner Oh Canada was a two-length winner when beginning her career in a restricted five-furlong maiden race.
“She’s kind of a green filly right now, but she’s Ontario-sired, and that’s really going to help her,” said Tiller, who trains Where Oh Where for owner/breeder Frank DiGiulio Jr.. “She’s certainly got a chance to be a decent filly.
Oh Canada won the six-furlong Woodstock here in his sophomore bow and later finished a close third in the Prince of Wales Stakes over 1 3/16 miles of dirt at Fort Erie.
“He’s back in training,” Tiller said. “He’s had his issues.”
Pender Harbour works for return
Pender Harbour, who was the unanimous choice as Canada’s outstanding 3-year-old male of 2011, breezed four furlongs in 48.60 on Thursday as he continued to progress toward his seasonal bow.
Luis Contreras, back at Woodbine after riding Inglorious to a second-place finish behind fellow Canadian-bred Marketing Mix in a one-mile turf allowance at Keeneland on Wednesday, was aboard for the drill.
“I thought he worked very well,” said Mike DePaulo, who trains Pender Harbour for the partnership of Denny Andrews, Sandra Lazaruk, and Bob and Roberta Giffin.
DePaulo has penciled in the May 27 Connaught Cup for the gelding’s seasonal bow.
The Connaught Cup, a seven-furlong turf stakes for 4-year-olds and upward, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.
“That’s certainly a race we’re looking at,” DePaulo said. “He should be fit enough by then. But we really don’t have a timetable for him. There’s nothing cast in stone.”
Pender Harbour, a gelding by Philanthropist, wintered at the Woodland Farm of Gail Woods and came back into the racetrack in mid-March.
“We basically just did with him what we did after his 2-year-old season,” DePaulo said. “He had a good winter.
“He filled out a little bit, especially around the girth. He’s a little on the chubby side right now, but we’ll get that off him.”
Pender Harbour ran in all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown last year, finishing third in the Queen’s Plate and then winning the Prince of Wales on Fort Erie’s dirt surface and the Breeders’ Stakes here on the turf.
As a 2-year-old, Pender Harbour won the Kingarvie here at 1 1/16 miles.
“He’s certainly versatile,” DePaulo said. “And he’s a sturdy, robust horse.”
Kitty’s Got Class skips Star Shoot
Kitty’s Got Class, an Ontario-sired 3-year-old filly who won a pair of restricted stakes for DePaulo last season, was nominated to the Star Shoot but is not in the lineup.
“She wintered in Ontario, at Gardiner Farm, and I don’t want to start her out against that type,” said DePaulo, who trained Kitty’s Got Class for Denny Andrews and Dr. Michael Colterjohn who died early this month.
“I’m in a tough spot with her. She’s eligible for a three-other-than, but those are life and death to fill, and she’d have to run against older horses. I might just save her for the Lady Angela”
The $125,000 Lady Angela, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, will be run here May 20.
“I’d like to try her on the grass, too,” added DePaulo. “There are some Ontario-sired stakes there for her.”
Fatal Bullet entered for a tag
Fatal Bullet, who was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2007, will be running for a claiming price of $62,500 here Sunday.
“I didn’t think he’d be competitive any more with an Essence Hit Man”, said trainer Reade Baker, with reference to last year’s Sovereign Award-winning male sprinter and winner of last weekend’s Jacques Cartier Stakes. “He’s lost a step with age. This seemed like a better idea.”
Fatal Bullet, a Kentucky-bred 7-year-old who races for the Bear Stable of Danny Dion, has started once previously for a $62,500 claiming price, winning his first start as a 3-year-old, and has gone on to earn more than $1.2 million.
Sutherland to ride locally Sunday
Chantal Sutherland, based at Santa Anita but in town for the weekend on personal business, has picked up a couple of mounts, including Danger Bay in Sunday’s $150,000 Woodstock Stakes.
Danger Bay will be making his seasonal bow and stakes debut in the Woodstock, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds that attracted a field of nine, including the invading Hogy.
Trained by Joel Berndt, Hoagy is coming off an impressive win in the six-furlong Hansel at Turfway Park.
The Woodstock field also includes the Ralph Biamonte-trained threesome of Menlo Castle, Run in Aruba, and Where’s Johnson.
Making Amends, Town Prize, Oro Vero, and Ocala Son round out the Woodstock lineup.