05/08/2013 12:45PM

Woodbine notes: Uncaptured off Queen's Plate trail following loss

Michael Burns
Pyrite Mountain beats Uncaptured, Canada's 2012 Horse of the Year, by 1 1/2 lengths in Sunday's Wando Stakes at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Uncaptured, Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old male of 2012, is off the Queen’s Plate trail.

Trained by Mark Casse for owner John Oxley, Uncaptured finished second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by a closing Pyrite Mountain, as the odds-on favorite under jockey Patrick Husbands here in last Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile Wando Stakes.

Uncaptured’s only other local defeat came in last fall’s 1 1/16-mile Grey Stakes, after he had won his first four starts, including three stakes at distances ranging from 4 1/2 to seven furlongs.

“I wanted to run him there [in the Wando] because his one route race, in the Grey, was always a mystery to me,” Casse said. “I think we needed to decide what path we were going to take, and that was whether we were going to pursue the Queen’s Plate or not. I think we got that answer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what we were hoping for. He can’t run long at Woodbine on the synthetic. I think that’s a fact. I don’t know whether he’s just a good sprinter or whether he likes dirt that much better.”

Uncaptured is perfect in two starts on dirt, having won the Grade 3 Iroquois at one mile and the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs last fall.

The current plan calls for Uncaptured to return to Louisville, Ky., with an eye toward the June 15 Matt Winn Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $100,000.

“If he proves he can still go two turns on the dirt, we’ll aim for the Prince of Wales,” Casse said. “If he’s not successful in the Matt Winn, we’ll just go back to sprinting.”

The $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, which follows the July 7 Queen’s Plate as the second leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run over Fort Erie’s dirt surface July 30.

Pyrite Mountain on Plate trail

Pyrite Mountain, rallying from last in the field of four, moved into the vanguard of Queen’s Plate contenders with his victory in the $116,600 Wando.

“I thought he was pretty impressive,” said Mark Frostad, who trains Pyrite Mountain for Awesome Again Racing Limited Partners, a syndicate formed by Stronach Stable. “The nice thing about him is he’s so tractable. He’ll do anything you want.”

Pyrite Mountain recorded his second stakes win in the Wando, having captured the Kingarvie for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles here last fall. He also ran well on turf at Gulfstream and on Polytrack at Keeneland in his two earlier starts this year.

“He’ll go to the Plate Trial and hopefully on to the Plate,” Frostad said.

The 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial, for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, has been resituated on the schedule along with the Woodbine Oaks this year and will be run June 9, four weeks prior to the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate.

That month between starts appeals to Frostad, who also sent out County Lineman to win a restricted first-level allowance at seven furlongs here last Friday.

“He might be a Plate horse, too,” said Frostad, who trains County Lineman for Ginger Punch Racing.

Casse has options for Dynamic Sky

Dynamic Sky, who, like Uncaptured, had been under consideration for the Kentucky Derby before disappointing in the Blue Grass Stakes, was entered in the Wando but was scratched.

Also owned by Oxley, Dynamic Sky has been entered in Saturday’s seven-furlong Queenston but will not necessarily participate.

“I may sit on Dynamic Sky and run him in the Marine,” Casse said, referring to the open, 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds here May 26.

Casse has two other entrants for the Queenston, which is restricted to Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds, in Star Contender and Jagger M.

Star Contender, owned by Oxley, finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds last fall. But Star Contender then was well beaten in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1 and then weakened after showing speed in the Grade 3 Transylvania over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Keeneland on April 5.

“He ran terrible on the dirt; that happens at Gulfstream,” Casse said. “Some horses just hate it there. He ran okay at Keeneland on the grass. He was there to the top of the lane. We’re going to take the blinkers off him to try to get him to relax, but I think seven-eighths is the perfect distance for him.”

Jagger M, who races for Gabe Grossberg, won his maiden in his fourth start, scoring impressively over six furlongs at Keeneland on April 13.

Spring in the Air eyes Woodbine Oaks

Casse, Oxley, and Husbands were successful in the other weekend stakes here, as Spring in the Air, last year’s Canadian champion 2-year-old filly, prevailed by a half-length over a closing Smartyfly in Saturday’s seven-furlong, $150,000 Fury for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

“I wish she could have won easier, but Patrick said [Smartyfly] had every opportunity to get by her and couldn’t get by her. Her next start will be in the Oaks.”

The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks is a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Smartyfly, a homebred owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Malcolm Pierce, also is headed straight to the Woodbine Oaks.

“She should be better going a little further,” said Pierce, who had sent out Smartyfly to finish third in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth and then to graduate at a mile and 70 yards here last fall.

In her 2013 debut at Keeneland on April 7, Smartyfly finished 11th of 12 in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

“She got hit about three times before she got to the three-eighths pole; then she just packed it in,” Pierce said. “I just had to write that race off.”

Irish Mission targets Nassau Stakes

Frostad said Irish Mission, who won Sovereign Award as Canada’s top 3-year-old filly and turf female in 2012, is scheduled to make her first local start of 2013 in the May 25 Nassau Stakes. The $200,000 Nassau, for fillies and mares, offers Grade 2 status and will be run over a mile on turf.

“The race might be a little short for her, but she’s a strong girl,” said Frostad, who trains Irish Mission for Robert S. Evans. “It’s a long stretch, and I hope there will be some pace.”

Irish Mission won the Woodbine Oaks and the Breeders’ Stakes here last year, defeating males at 1 1/2 miles on turf in the latter stakes.

In two starts at Gulfstream this year, both on grass, Irish Mission finished second when competing under allowance conditions at 1 1/16 miles and third in the Grade 3, 1 1/2-mile Orchid.