11/17/2011 4:24PM

Woodbine: Paso Doble seeks to solidify Sovereign credentials in Kennedy Road

Michael Burns
Paso Doble can strengthen his bid for Canada's champion sprinter with a win in Saturday's Kennedy Road.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Paso Doble thrust himself into the Sovereign Award picture for champion sprinter with a decisive victory in the allowance prep for the Grade 3 Kennedy Road Stakes. He will contest the $150,000 Kennedy Road on Saturday at Woodbine, a six-furlong sprint that could have significant Sovereign Award implications.

Paso Doble won two Ontario-sired stakes earlier in the meet, the six-furlong New Providence and the 6 1/2-furlong Shepperton. He was much farther back than usual in the fast-paced prep, and then came flying through the stretch to win going away, in a time of 1:08.97 for the six furlongs.

Trainer Mark Casse gave credit to jockey Patrick Husbands for Paso Doble’s improvement this year.

“I think Patrick’s been a big part of his success,” Casse explained. “He’s gotten him to relax a little more each time. The way he came home [in the prep] was remarkable. He beat a bunch of nice horses, and beat them handily. The pace was fast, but the three or four who finished behind him weren’t going quite as quickly, and he was able to run by everybody. My only fear is that we’re coming back in three weeks, but he won with such ease that maybe it wasn’t too taxing on him. He came back and worked really sharp the other morning.”

The most recognizable names in the field are two Canadian champion sprinters from the past, Hollywood Hit and Fatal Bullet.

Hollywood Hit won 3 of 5 outings during his 2010 championship season. This year, at age 5, he captured a stakes at Presque Isle Downs and the Bold Venture Stakes. He is exiting a flat third-place finish here Sept. 21 in the six-furlong King Corrie Stakes.

Trainer Terry Jordan opted to bypass the prep with Hollywood Hit.

“He tries really hard, and I thought it would be better working him towards this race,” said Jordan. “He’s gotten a little older, and he’s lost a step or two. I expect him to run pretty well.”

Fatal Bullet was voted Canadian Horse of the Year and champion sprinter in 2008. He has run hot and cold since winning a six-furlong optional claimer this past June, and doesn’t have a realistic chance of garnering another Sovereign Award.

The speedy Essence Hit Man has been shut out since taking the six-furlong Jacques Cartier Stakes in his season opener. He set the pace in the prep, before tiring in deep stretch to finish three lengths back in second.

Gypsy Ring and Signature Red both have a shot at the Sovereign.

Gypsy Ring notched his first stakes over Paso Doble in the restricted Overskate Sept. 28. Most recently on turf in the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes, he finished a close third behind Regally Ready, who came back to capture the Grade 2 BC Turf Sprint.

The versatile Signature Red is winless since taking the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes on turf for the second year in a row June 26.