09/14/2012 1:43PM

Woodbine: With a race under his belt, Scalo looks ready for the Northern Dancer

Michael Burns
Northern Dancer contender Scalo (left) works earlier this week with his stablemate Kapitale, who runs in Sunday's Canadian.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Scalo took up residence here last month, and the talented German runner might be peaking for Sunday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Northern Dancer Turf, a contentious supporting feature on the Woodbine Mile card.

The 12-furlong marathon, which is a prep for the next month’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Canadian International, has lured a solid group that also includes last year’s winner, Wigmore Hall; the Roger Attfield-trained duo of Musketier and Forte Dei Marmi; and Woodbine Oaks winner Irish Mission.

With the addition of Lasix, Scalo rallied for third when favored here Aug. 19 in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes. Trainer Andreas Woehler said that the 5-year-old wasn’t suited to the distance while making his first appearance in two months.

“He was a bit rusty,” Woehler said. “The mile and a quarter was a bit short for him. He just got going when the race was over. A mile and a half is a lot better for him. We would prefer a truly run race.”

Scalo’s best effort was arguably a five-length loss to future Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream when second in a Group 2 fixture in July of last year.

“That was his last race last season, and at the time, we were disappointed,” Woehler recalled. “He was beaten quite far by Danedream, but it was the same distance that Danedream won the Arc by. He was muscle-sore after the race. That’s why he had the long layoff.”

Wigmore Hall captured the 2011 Northern Dancer by a neck over the recently retired Simmard, after closing from off soft fractions. He is winless in seven starts this year, but wasn’t badly beaten when a slow-starting seventh in the Grade 1 Arlington Million.

The German-bred Musketier won his 11th race after battling with Simmard through the stretch in the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes here June 24. Most recently July 14, the popular 10-year-old was a fast-closing second in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes at Arlington.

Attfield felt that Musketier could have won the Stars and Stripes with a better trip.

“He had an awful lot to do, and then he got into a bit of a jackpot,” Attfield recalled.

Attfield said Musketier has maintained his sharpness heading into the Northern Dancer.

“He had a nice little work” last Sunday, Attfield said. “I was very happy. He usually shows up, running his race. He’s a nice old horse. He prefers a bit of cut in the ground, but he doesn’t like it real soft.”

Forte Dei Marmi is stretching out off a fast-closing score in the 10-furlong Sky Classic. He was previously sixth in the Colonial Cup Turf and third in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico.

“He ran a winning race at Pimlico,” Attfield said. “I ran him on too hard a ground at Colonial off a bad trip down there, and that was a mistake. It jarred him all up. He’s a nice little horse, and he’s happy right now. I think he’ll run well at a mile and a half. I could have shortened him up for the [Woodbine Mile], but that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Irish Mission gets in light off a victory over Canadian-bred 3-year-olds in the 12-furlong Breeders’ Stakes, the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

Al Khali, who was a charging third in last year’s Northern Dancer, has just one win in his last 15 starts.