06/03/2011 11:21AM

Woodbine Oaks: Inglorious gives Contreras big shot at first major stakes victory


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Luis Contreras’s rise to the top of the jockey standings this spring, a mere two years since he began riding at Woodbine, has been remarkable. Contreras has yet to land a major Canadian stakes, but the native of Mexico has an excellent chance to do so Sunday aboard Inglorious in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks.

The 56th running of the Oaks heads a solid 11-race card which also includes the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes – an important prep for the June 26 Queen’s Plate – and the $100,000 Alywow Stakes, a turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

The Oaks and the Trial will broadcast on the CBC TV from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Inglorious should be favored in the nine-furlong Oaks, off her sharp recent score and because of the company that she has been keeping.

Following an unbeaten 2-year-old campaign, Inglorious ran twice over the winter at Fair Grounds. She finished second to Kathmanblu in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, and was fourth as the beaten favorite in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. After her subpar showing in the Oaks, trainer Josie Carroll decided to bypass the Kentucky Oaks in favor of the Woodbine Oaks.

Inglorious prepped for the Woodbine Oaks with a nifty come-from-behind victory under Contreras here in the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette Stakes.

“She made a huge move,” said Contreras. “She’s a really confident filly, and nice to ride. She can run all day.”

On May 25, Inglorious breezed five-eighths under Contreras in 59.80 seconds, after which she galloped three-quarters in an sizzling 1:11.40.

“She worked amazing,” said Contreras.

The Mark Casse-trained Roxy Gap figures to be the second choice in the nine-horse field of Canadian-bred 3-year-olds fillies.

Casse sent out Sealy Hill to capture the 2007 Canadian Triple Tiara, a series for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies that begins with the Oaks. The second leg this year is the $250,000 Bison City Stakes on July 3, and the series moves to the turf for the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes on July 31.

Roxy Gap was also unbeaten at 2, which included a Polytrack triumph in the Shady Well Stakes. She was a non-threatening third in the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes in January at Gulfstream. Following another vacation here April 30, she won the seven-furlong Fury Stakes under Patrick Husbands.

“This was the first time Patrick rode her, and he said you have to kind of ride her the entire way,” Casse said. “That’s the way she is. She’s very laid back. She does what she has to do.”

The Churchill Downs-based Marketing Mix, who wound up second in the Fury, is making her first start beyond seven furlongs for trainer Tom Proctor.

“I thought she ran pretty good in [the Fury],” said Proctor. “We haven’t seen the best of her. And I think she wants to go two turns.”

Handicappers shouldn’t dismiss fillies who use a sprint such as the Fury as their final Oaks prep. Last year, Roan Inish parlayed a second in her season debut in the Fury into an Oaks victory, and the four consecutive Fury winners from 1997-2000 all came right back to take the Oaks.

Grand Style graduated in style here last October, in the $252,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She missed the board in each of her two starts since then, but finished a respectable fifth in her season opener in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland.

“We wanted to see how she compared with [Kentucky] fillies, and she ran pretty solid,” said Rusty Arnold, who trains Grand Style in the U.S. “I may have run her a little bit short, but she’s done well since.”

Abrianna earned her diploma by utilizing a strong wide rally to win a slow-paced maiden special here May 14.

“She’s doing really well,” said trainer Roger Attfield, who has won the Oaks three times. “She’s light on experience, but she has quality and ability. Every race, she seems to have gotten better.”

Bear It’s Time notched her belated seasonal bow in the May 23 Lady Angela, a seven-furlong stakes for Ontario-sired fillies. She possesses the highest last-out Beyer Figure in the Oaks field, an 84.

“I don’t think the distance will be a problem, but she’s coming back in just 13 days,” said trainer Reade Baker.

Bear It’s Time and Spooky Kitten were both supplemented at a cost of $12,500. Spooky Kitten is coming off a fifth in the La Lorgnette.