08/30/2013 12:51PM

Woodbine notes: Why Katherine, adding blinkers, looks good in Avowal


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Why Katherine, coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Royal North Stakes at six furlongs on the turf, looms as the one to beat here Sunday in the $100,000 Avowal Stakes.

The Avowal, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on the turf, attracted a field of eight, and Why Katherine drew well in the outside post.

Why Katherine, a homebred 4-year-old who races for Dom Romeo and is trained by Kevin Attard, had finished second, beaten a neck, in the restricted Zadracarta over seven furlongs of turf in her start before the Royal North here June 15.

Returning six weeks later to make her graded stakes debut in the Royal North, Why Katherine had some traffic problems but finished strongly under returning rider Jermaine Bridgmohan.

“She had a tough trip,” Attard said. “She kind of got in a spot. She was in a little tight, and it looked like she didn’t want to go through. When she did go through, it was too late.”

Why Katherine will race with blinkers for the first time in the Avowal.

“She seems to struggle a bit on this course,” Attard said. “They might help her get more focused.”

Dene Court, a homebred 4-year-old who races for Eugene Melnyk, is the only stakes winner in the Alywow lineup.

Trained by Mark Casse, Dene Court put together a turf stakes double here last year in the 6 1/2-furlong Alywow and one-mile Ontario Damsel, but then went to the sidelines after weakening to finish last of nine in the July 29 Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles on the grass.

“She just had some issues after her last start – nothing of any great significance – so we sent her home,” Casse said.

The trainer said that the farm manager of Winding Oaks, Phil Hronec, detected “a couple of little issues, and so they gave her some more time.

“She’s come back and trained very well.”

Gary Boulanger has the call on Dene Court.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce took the blinkers off Queen of the Waves last time and watched her finish a close second behind the Grade 3 stakes winner No Explaining in an optional $62,500 claiming at one mile on the grass here Aug. 3

“It seemed like she was a little more relaxed,” Pierce said. “She was in a paceless race the time before, and ended up on the lead. With a stalking style, she’ll finish better.

“I wish this race was a little longer, but she doesn’t run that often, and she runs good fresh.”

Eurico Rosa Da Silva retains the mount on Queen of the Waves.

Evil Kitten, a 4-year-old by the red-hot Kitten’s Joy, will be looking for her first stakes win but finished third in the Zadracarta three starts back and second last year in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen over one mile on grass.

Rounding out the field will be Sca Doodle, Part the Seas, Actionontwo, and Swift Artist, who is based in Chicago with trainer Tom Proctor.

Double shot for connnections

If Why Katherine does come through, then Romeo and Attard will have a chance to complete an interesting double in Sunday’s $125,000 Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.

Fighting Chris, like Why Katherine, is out of Include Katherine but will be looking to prove himself on turf after finishing seventh when trying grass for the only time in the restricted Bold Ruckus here June 8.

“I always thought he’d be better on turf,” Attard said. “His first race was a little disappointing, but he seems to have turned the corner since then. He put a couple of good races together, back to back.”

Those efforts came in restricted first-level allowance sprints on the main track as Fighting Chris was beaten a nose as the runner-up and then scored over seven furlongs.

Last Sunday, Fighting Chris tuned up for the Vice Regent with a four-furlong breeze in 48.60 seconds on the turf training track.

“He breezed well,” Attard said.

Fighting Chris will break from the outside in the Vice Regent’s field of nine, with Omar Moreno retaining the mount.

Two sides to champ’s presence

The expected presence of defending champion Wise Dan in the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 15 will do wonders for the racetrack’s profile.

The flip side is that Wise Dan, riding the crest of an eight-race win streak, already seems to have scared off much of the competition as only 12 horses were listed when the nominations for the Woodbine Mile were released Friday.

Wise Dan, the 6-year-old gelding owned and bred by Morton Fink and trained by Charlie LoPresti, went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile and to be voted North America’s Horse of the Year, champion turf horse, and champion older horse.

The allowance conditions of the Woodbine Mile would require Wise Dan to carry 124 pounds, five pounds fewer than he toted in last month’s Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga and four pounds fewer than his assignment in Churchill’s Grade 3 Firecracker.

Also nominated to the Woodbine Mile were Dimension, Excaper, Gale Force Ten, King Kreesa, Lea, Mshawish, Riding the River, River Seven, Trade Storm, Winning Prize, and Za Approval.

Breeders’ Cup spots on the line

The Woodbine Mile, which is a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, will be the headliner on a program that also includes the Grade 1 Northern Dancer, the Grade 2 Canadian, and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby.

The Northern Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, offers a purse of $500,000, while the Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, is worth $300,000 but is a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

The $150,000 Ontario Derby is for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

Essence Hit Man getting breather

Essence Hit Man, front-running winner of the Grade 3 Bold Venture over 6 1/2 furlongs here July 17, has gone to the farm for a summer vacation.

“There’s nothing wrong with him,” said trainer Larry Cappuccitti, who trains the homebred 6-year-old gelding for the A&G Racing Stable of his father, Gord. “We know he can get seven furlongs; he’s just getting older.”

Essence Hit Man began his current campaign with a victory in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier but then yielded late to finish second, beaten a half-length by Laugh Track, in the Grade 3 Vigil at seven furlongs.

Yellow Boat retired

Yellow Boat, a promising 4-year-old filly trained by Mark Frostad, has been retired because of an unspecified injury.

Bred by her owner, Robert S. Evans, Yellow Boat had finished an unlucky fourth in the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too here July 6 but then faltered to end last of seven in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Ontario Matron on July 20.

Yellow Boat has returned to Kentucky, where she is scheduled to join her owner’s broodmare band.

“She’s a nice filly,” Frostad said.