10/17/2012 1:10PM

Woodbine notes: Turf course to remain open extra week


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The turf racing season here, originally scheduled to end Oct. 28, has been extended by one week, through Nov. 4.

“We talked about it, and we’re going to try it,” said Steve Lym, racing secretary and a director of racing for the Woodbine Entertainment Group. “The weather gets dodgy at this time of year, but the turf course seems to be holding up.

“The turf course had a planned vacation this summer to get it in better condition, and it seems to have worked. We want to get all the use we can out of it.”

Seven turf races will be offered over a three-day period beginning Friday, Nov. 2, ranging from a $32,000 claiming race at seven furlongs to a second-level allowance for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

Meanwhile, the final turf training session was held Wednesday morning and attracted just two horses, both trained by Mark Frostad.

Whey Sauce, a 4-year-old filly who finished seventh when making her North American debut in a first-level allowance Oct. 8, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20. Royal Espresso, an unraced 3-year-old colt, went in company with Whey Sauce and was clocked in 1:01.20.

First stakes wins for trainer, breeder

Lost in the shuffle of last Sunday’s blockbuster Canadian International Day program were a pair of Saturday stakes that were firsts for one neophyte trainer and one veteran breeder.

First up was Renico Lafond, who won the $100,000 Ruling Angel with the 36-1 Silent Serenity, who was making her first appearance for the 25-year-old trainer.

Three races later, in the $150,000 Fanfreluche for Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies, Surtsey became the first stakes winner bred solely by Yvonne Schwabe.

Silent Serenity was just the fifth starter and first winner for Lafond.

“She ran beautiful; it was fantastic,” Lafond said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Lafond, who was born in Barbados but came to Canada at age 9, had an early introduction to the racetrack as his father, Nick Lafond, was and still is a member of the gate crew. By the time he reached his mid-teens, Lafond was working part-time on the backstretch with his employers including trainers Reade Baker and Nick Gonzalez.

Lafond moved on to become an exercise rider and worked for Mike DePaulo last year before moving to Mark Casse’s stable for the current campaign.

Last fall, Lafond took out his trainer’s license and sent out his own Dixie No Darling, his first entrant, to finish third in a maiden $5,000 claiming race at Fort Erie. Lafond had three more starters this year and then was approached by Silent Serenity’s owner Robin Singh, master of Trinity Racing Stable, for whom he had galloped horses at TNT Farm, Casse’s off-track base.

Singh offered the job of training Silent Serenity to Lafond prior to the filly’s next-to-last start, a $62,500 claiming race for 3-year-old fillies that she won by trainer John DiMarco. Lafond was not ready to take over at the time, but subsequently divested himself of his other horses and responded in the affirmative to a second offer.

His first order of business was to enter Silent Serenity in an $80,000 claiming race restricted to 3-year-olds and scheduled for Oct. 8.

“The race didn’t go, and the owners asked me what I thought about running her in the Ruling Angel,” Lafond said. “I’d ridden the horse and worked the horse, and thought we should take a shot.”

That shot hit the bull’s-eye, and Silent Serenity, now a stakes winner, will be looking to take down even bigger game in the Nov. 4 Ontario Fashion, a six-furlong stakes for fillies and mares that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

Kevin Attard trains Surtsey, who defeated six other Ontario-foaled 2-year-old fillies in the Fanfreluche and gave Jermaine Bridgmohan his first local stakes victory.

Surtsey, whose only previous win had come in a $32,000 maiden claimer, had not been nominated to the Fanfreluche and had in fact been entered for a $40,000 claiming price in a race that failed to fill. A week ago last Friday, Schwabe and Attard discussed trying Surtsey in the Fanfreluche and agreed on the plan.

“This gave us an extra week and an opportunity to work with her,” Attard said. “Obviously, on paper, it didn’t look to be the toughest group of Ontario-breds.”

Returning to the track from Schwabe’s farm, where she was in the capable hands of farm managers Brian and Lorie Ferguson, Surtsey got down to preparing for the Fanfreluche.

“She worked very well, and she’s never been a fantastic workhorse,” Attard said.

Surtsey, who had been one of four $3,000 supplemental nominees in the six-horse field for the Fanfreluche, stalked the pace and then launched a wide move that carried her to a one-length victory.

The $90,000 winner’s share almost tripled Surtsey’s previous bankroll, bringing her earnings to $124,052 from six starts.

Europeans heading out of town

The exodus of the European contestants from last Sunday’s Canadian International Day program began Tuesday with three departures.

Havant, the fifth-place finisher in the E.P. Taylor, has gone to trainer Christophe Clement in New York.

Kapitale, 12th of 13 in the E.P. Taylor, has headed to Kentucky and will be on the auction block.

Lay Time, the filly who was last of 10 in the Canadian International and emerged from the race with a slight knee fracture, also headed to Kentucky and is to be bred to Street Cry.

Woodbine runners at Keeneland

Miss Cato, trained by Roger Attfield, has been at Keeneland with assistant trainer Suzanne Lorimer since last week and will run in the first division of Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Valley View Stakes.

English Class, who has been based at Woodbine with trainer Brian Lynch, drew into the second division of the Valley View, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies that attracted a total of 24 entrants.

Janicellaine left Attfield’s barn on Wednesday and will join Miss Cato and Musketier, who was entered in Thursday’s Sycamore Stakes.

An Irish-bred 4-year-old filly, Janicellaine was to be entered in Sunday’s $125,000 Dowager, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.