05/31/2013 12:21PM

Woodbine: Original Script an Oaks contender who could offer value

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Michael Burns
River Seven, winning the Grey Stakes last fall, is among eight projected starters for next Sunday's Plate Trial.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Nipissing, a Chiefswood Stable homebred who is coming off a second-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Selene Stakes for trainer Rachel Halden, figures to be no worse than second choice in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks here next Sunday.

But Original Script, another Chiefswood runner who is trained by Paul Attard, could be somewhat overlooked in the wagering and is eligible to come up big in the 1 1/8- mile showpiece for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Original Script won her first two starts here last fall, both in front-running fashion at 1 1/16 miles, but then finished second behind wire-to-wire winner Aunt Els in the 1 1/16- mile Ontario Lassie on Dec. 9.

“She stumbled out of the gate that day,” said Attard, who then gave Original Script a couple of weeks off before bringing her down to Palm Meadows in Florida.

Original Script resurfaced in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race on March 30 in which she trailed the field of six while ending some 40 lengths behind runaway winner Dreaming of Julia. Attard, however, is quick to draw a line through that highly uncharacteristic performance

“She hooked a monster, she bled a little bit, and it looked like she didn’t handle the dirt at all,” said Attard. “It looks like she has to be close early, and she was never close there.”

Original Script stopped over at Keeneland on her way home.

“We thought about running her there, but we decided to wait for Woodbine,” said Attard.

Finding a place to run Original Script here was Attard’s next challenge.

“After the bad race in Florida, we wanted to find an easier spot for her,” said Attard. “We entered her in two allowance races, which didn’t fill. We also had the option of the Selene, but Chiefswood had Nipissing in there.”

As a last resort, Original Script was entered in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Trillium Stakes with older females.

“It was a last-minute thing,” said Attard, noting that Original Script’s regular rider, Jesse Campbell, already had taken a call there.

Emma-Jayne Wilson replaced Campbell and Original Script led through most of the trip while prevailing by a length.

Campbell will be back aboard for the Woodbine Oaks.

Pierce has two for Oaks

As of Friday, a field of eight appeared likely for the Woodbine Oaks.

Spring in the Air, winner of the seven-furlong Fury Stakes for trainer Mark Casse, and Smartyfly, conditioned by Malcolm Pierce, will be renewing their rivalry.

Pierce also plans to start Dance Again, who would be making her Polytrack debut and is coming off a second-place finish in a 1 1/8-mile turf allowance at Keeneland on April 21.

Tiz Ro and Rutherford Rd, both unplaced in the Fury, and Pink Trillium, who would be making her local bow after finishing fourth in Belmont’s Tweedside Stakes over one mile of turf, are the other Woodbine Oaks probables.

Other confirmed riding assignments include Joel Rosario, on Spring in the Air; Shaun Bridgmohan, Dance Again; Steven Bahen, Nipissing; Eurico Rosa Da Silva, Smartyfly; and Luis Contreras, Pink Trillium.

Plate Trial has eight likely starters

The $150,000 Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, also will be contested next Sunday and a field of eight is expected.

Midnight Aria, coming off a third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Wando Stakes here May 5, is among the expected starters and tuned up with five furlongs in 1:01.40 on the main track here on a very hot and humid Friday morning.

With Campbell in the irons, Midnight Aria tracked a workmate before going by and finishing strongly.

Fibre had been added to the Polytrack surface on Thursday and Gonzalez said he believed the track was playing on the slow side.

“I breezed a set early and they staggered,” said Martha Gonzalez, wife and assistant to Midnight Aria’s trainer, Nick Gonzalez. “Apparently down the backstretch the track was nice and tight but it was distinctly deep in the stretch.”

Midnight Aria, owned by Carlo and Lou Tucci, was claimed for $35,000 at Gulfstream in January.

“The heat doesn’t bother him. He was raised in Florida,” said Gonzalez. “He takes it pretty good. He has a hearty constitution.”

Team Gonzalez and the Tuccis plan to have a second Plate Trial starter in River Seven, who won the Grade 3 Grey Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here last fall.

Although he spent the winter at Gulfstream Park with Nick Gonzalez, River Seven did not start there and finished fourth when making his seasonal bow in the seven-furlong Queenston here May 11.

The Plate Trial had not been the original destination for River Seven, but a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance for 3-year-olds in which he was entered for Sunday failed to fill.

“We galloped him two miles this morning, and he was standing in his stall with the fan on pawing for his feed,” said Gonzalez. “He’s usually not that kind of horse. He’s laid-back.”

Campbell retains the mount on Midnight Aria for the Plate Trial with River Seven’s partner to be announced.

Others eyeing the Plate Trial include Black Hornet, Jagger M, and Dynamic Sky, the 1-2-3 finishers in the Queenston; Pyrite Mountain, the Wando winner for trainer Mark Frostad; Kid Dreams, who is scheduled to ship in from California for trainer Neil Drysdale; and His Race to Win, coming off a maiden win for Malcolm Pierce, who already has Marine Stakes winner Up to the Birds heading to the July 7 Queen’s Plate.

Black Hornet, trained by Pat Parente, is not nominated to the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate but his connections planned to supplement him at a cost of $5,000 and will have to shell out an additional $3,000 supplement for the Plate Trial.

Justin Stein retains the mount on Black Hornet, while Shaun Bridgmohan has the call on Jagger M and Rosario is scheduled to ride Dynamic Sky.

Javier Castellano is to be aboard Kid Dreams with Luis Contreras again riding Pyrite Mountain and Da Silva retaining the mount on His Race to Win.

Jagger M and Dynamic Sky both are trained by Mark Casse, whose Queen’s Plate candidate Kaigun worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 here Friday morning.

Kaigun, an impressive maiden winner at 1 1/16 miles here last time out, could return in an allowance race or in the $150,000 Victoria Park Stakes, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds here June 16.

Awards dinner for Ontario-breds June 14

The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s local chapter will be honoring the outstanding Ontario-breds of 2012 at its 31st annual awards dinner on Friday, June 14.

Bill Graham, winner of the 2012 Sovereign Award as Canada’s outstanding breeder, also is the CTHS breeder of the year. Horses bred by Graham who excelled in 2012 included Uncaptured, Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion male juvenile.

Gordon Cappuccitti and his late wife Audre Cappuccitti will be the recipients of the Blood-Horse Mint Julep Cup in recognition of their dedication and contributions to the Thoroughbred industry.

The festivities will take place at Copper Creek Golf Club in nearby Kleinberg, beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets (at $84.75 including HST) are available through the CTHS office at (416) 675-3602.

All proceeds from the evening, which includes a silent auction, will go to the LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society.

◗ The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club will be returning to its regular Wednesday night slot with the return of Wednesday racing this week and will be meeting in the third-floor Champions area beginning at 7:30 p.m.