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Woodbine: Prospective overcomes stumble, bounces back in Victoria Park
By Bill Tallon
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Expectations were high in Sunday’s Victoria Park Stakes for Prospective, who was coming off a troubled 16th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
After throwing a scare into his connections when stumbling at the start of the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park, Prospective delivered as the 2-5 favorite with a 1 3/4-length score under regular rider Luis Contreras.
“It’s good to get that over with,” said trainer Mark Casse, after sending out the Kentucky-bred Prospective to win his fourth stakes race for owner John Oxley. “When they’re supposed to win, there’s more pressure. And that was an anxious moment, when he almost tripped and fell at the start.”
Prospective also captured the Grade 3 Grey over 1 1/16 miles here last fall and went on to run well on the dirt at Tampa Bay Downs, with victories in the seven-furlong Pascoe and the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby at 1 1/16 miles.
‘I’ve said all along that I’m not convinced this is his best surface,” Casse said. “But he worked good enough over it when he got back here.”
The open stakes program for 3-year-olds now will be shifting to turf, with the June 23 Charlie Barley, a one-mile overnight stakes on June 23 and the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup on July 14 the next offerings.
Casse, however, is inclined to look afield for Prospective’s next start and mentioned Monmouth’s Haskell Invitational on July 29 as a possibility.
Casse also saddled the Victoria Park’s second-place finisher Patrioticandproud and scratched Moon Traveler from the original five-horse field.
“I had every intention of running all three,” Casse said. “But after Moon Traveler shipped up from Churchill Downs, he trained Saturday and his leg filled up on him the next morning.
“He’ll be out for a while.”
Jenna’s Wabbit takes to turf in win
Jenna’s Wabbit was one of the later returnees to trainer Ralph Biamonte’s barn this spring after wintering at Crupi’s New Castle Farm in Florida.
But Jenna’s Wabbit has become the first horse to revisit the stakes winners’ circle for the stable as he captured the $125,800 Bold Ruckus Stakes over six furlongs of yielding turf here last Saturday under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva.
“I did a little surgery on one of his ankles over the winter,” said Biamonte, who trains Jenna’s Wabbit for his wife, Mary Biamonte, and Danny Lococo. “That put him back a little bit.”
Apparently, Jenna’s Wabbit benefited immensely from the time off.
“Mentally, he’s much more mature,” Biamonte said. “He was just like a big kid last year. He wanted to fool around a lot; he could be a little rambunctious on the shed row. He’s not like that now.”
Jenna’s Wabbit won three races last year, including the restricted Bull Page at six furlongs and Frost King at seven furlongs. His Bold Ruckus win also came at the expense of Ontario-sired opposition.
Heading into the Bold Ruckus, Jenna’s Wabbit had never raced or trained over a turf course, but Biamonte was confident that the gelding would handle the unfamiliar surface.
“He’s got a beautiful turf foot,” Biamonte said. “I was a little concerned when the course came up soft, because he’s a huge horse.
“But Eurico said he loved it. He said it was the first time he changed leads for us.”
The $125,000 Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds here Sept. 2, is a long-term target for Jenna’s Wabbit.
The $125,000 Deputy Minister, a seven-furlong main track race for the same set here July 25, is a logical interim goal.
In the meantime, Biamonte plans to nominate Jenna’s Wabbit to the $150,000 Achievement, a six-furlong stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds here July 1.
“I’ll see how it comes up,” Biamonte said. “I don’t have to run him a lot.”
Menlo Castle to miss Queen’s Plate
Menlo Castle, who had been Biamonte’s main hopeful for the $1 million Queen’s Plated heading into the meeting, will not be in the lineup for the 1 1/4-mile showpiece for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here June 24.
Owned and bred by Conor Healy, Menlo Castle finished a disappointing ninth in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 3.
“He came out of the race with a little infection in one of his ankles,” Biamonte said. “It’s too bad it happened, but at least it gives us a reason for why he ran the way he did in there.
“I’m aiming him for the Prince of Wales now.”
The $500,000 Prince of Wales, the 1 3/16-mile dirt race that follows the Queen’s Plate as the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, will be run at Fort Erie on July 15.
Horses get to work for Plate bids
Strait of Dover, one of the leading candidates for the Queen’s Plate, worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 on the main track here Sunday and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.20 under regular rider Justin Stein.
“I just wanted a very strong work from him,” said Danny Vella, who trains the homebred Strait of Dover for the British Columbia-based Wally and Teri Leong. “It’s been four weeks since he ran”
Strait of Dover, who had been an impressive winner of the Grade 3 Marine Stakes at 1 1/16 miles here May 13, had been heading for the Plate Trial when he was derailed by a blood disorder.
Additional tests were performed last week, and Strait of Dover was given a clean bill of health.
Also working on the main track for the Queen’s Plate here Sunday were Ultimate Destiny, Macho Whiskey, and Prince Raphael.
Ultimate Destiny went a mile in 1:41.20 under regular rider Steven Bahen with his stablemate, the maiden 3-year-old filly Inclusa, joining him through the closing stages.
Inclusa, with exercise rider Paul Sullivan in the irons, was timed in 50 seconds, breezing, for four furlongs.
“I thought it was a good work,” said Mike Keogh, who trains Ultimate Destiny for Brenda Selwyn-Waxman. “I wanted to work him just before the [7:30 a.m. main-track maintenance] break, because it’s always a little slower then.”
Keogh has been pointing Ultimate Destiny to the Queen’s Plate since the gelding finished second, beaten a half-length by the 4-year-old Head Honcho in a restricted second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here May 23.
Macho Whiskey breezed five furlongs in 59.80 with jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons.
Reade Baker, who trains Macho Whiskey for Dick Bonnycastle, plans to supplement the gelding to the Queen’s Plate at a cost of $25,000.
Macho Whiskey has raced three times and finished last of five, but beaten just 1 1/4 lengths, in a first-level allowance race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles here May 27.
Prince Raphael worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 under regular rider Richard Dos Ramos.
Debbie England, who trains Prince Raphael for owners Christina and Olsen Belle and Doug Reddington, caught the colt galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.
Prince Raphael finished third when making his seasonal bow in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs, but then ended sixth, beaten 10 lengths, when facing older rivals at the same level over 1 1/16 miles here May 12.
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