10/11/2011 12:30PM

Woodbine: Rahystrada looks to step up in Canadian International

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Rahystrada, winner of the Colonial Turf Cup, will start in the Canadian International.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Rahystrada, at age 7, already has put together the most productive campaign of his career with victories in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup and the $100,000 Kentucky Turf Cup.

On Sunday, Rahystrada will be looking to take his game to a even higher level when he goes postward here at Woodbine in the Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up that offers Grade 1 status and a purse of $1.5 million.

“We mark all the turf races going long and we kind of kept looking at it,” said Byron Hughes, who trains Rahystrada for owner Robert Courtney Jr.

“When he won his last race at Kentucky Downs, which is not a big-time venue or anything, he got lucky and got an easy field. But he handled the mile and a half so well, we decided to come there.

“Robert and I are just small-time guys, and it’s great to have the chance to run in something this big.”

Rahystrada, originally trained by Frank Brothers, has been trained by Hughes since summer 2008 and has been owned by Courtney since 2009.

“The person who had owned him was getting out of the business – he was selling everything,” said Hughes, who is based at the Thoroughbred Center in Kentucky with a 19-stall barn.

“Robert was his adviser and a good friend of mine, who had actually raised the horse on his farm.

“We decided to buy him. We thought he’d be a good, fun horse to have around. I never thought he’d be this good.”

Rahystrada won four races in 2009, all on turf, and closed out his campaign by giving Hughes his first graded stakes win in the Grade 3 River City at Churchill Downs.

After making one start at Tampa Bay Downs the following winter with trainer Ron Potts, Rahystrada returned to Hughes and won two of his next four outings, including the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap.

Rahystrada also held his own last year in his most difficult tests to date, running third in Pimlico’s Grade 2 Dixie and fourth in the Grade 1 Arlington Million.

“All of a sudden, he’d gotten really good,” said Hughes, who has visited Woodbine but will be racing here for the first time.

“I’m really not sure why. But he is kind of picky about his jockey. Inez Karlsson had been riding him, and he liked her a lot.

“But he’s done well with other jockeys since then. We’ve tried to keep with riders who are nice and quiet; he doesn’t like a lot of action up there.”

Rahystrada is scheduled to have a new rider for the Canadian International in Julien Leparoux, who when last seen here was winning the Woodbine Mile aboard Turallure.

“I think he’ll fit him perfectly,” Hughes said. “He’s the kind of rider the horse likes, and we know that he’s done well up there.”

Rahystrada should check into Woodbine, without ceremony, sometime Thursday afternoon.

“We’ll gallop him Thursday morning, early early, and then load him on a van,” Hughes said. “I’ll bring him up myself.

“He’s a good shipper. He went to Colonial the day before his race there, and that was an eight-hour trip.”

Hughes also is optimistic that Rahystrada can get a good trip in the Canadian International, where a large field could create traffic problems.

“He’s got some tactical speed,” Hughes said. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to stay out of trouble.”

The trainer also believes that Rahystrada won’t be out of his element in Sunday’s company as the gelding’s performances this year include a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and a fifth in his second crack at the Arlington Million.

Rahystrada was beaten just 3 3/4 lengths in the Arlington Million, and the top two finishers, Cape Blanco and Gio Ponti, are about as good as it gets.

“He didn’t disgrace himself,” Hughes said. “And he could have been closer, with a little luck.”

Jenna’s Wabbit dominates Bull Page

Jenna’s Wabbit became a stakes winner here Monday in the $125,400 Bull Page as he went to the front and improved his position through the six-furlong stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-old colts and geldings.

“All I was hoping for was to have a clean trip,” said Ralph Biamonte, who trains Jenna’s Wabbit for his wife, Mary Biamonte, and Danny Lococo.

“I figured if he had a good trip, and he ran like we knew he could, we’d be safe.”

Jenna’s Wabbit took charge early in the Bull Page, leading by a half-length after the first quarter-mile and stretching his lead through each succeeding call en route to a 7 1/4-length victory under jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva.

The appearance was the fourth in the burgeoning career of Jenna’s Wabbit, but the first since he finished second in the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon Stakes here July 3.

His 1:09.91 clocking for the Bull Page yielded a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 79.

“I think he’s going to be better next time,” Biamonte said. “He’d had three months off and he was racing on his wrong lead, too.

“He’s got a little maturing to do. He’s just a big baby right now.”

Jenna’s Wabbit should make his next start here Nov. 2 in the $125,000 Frost King, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.

“We’ll see if he’ll go that far,” Biamonte said. “It looks like he should. He’s a big, strong horse.”

Apprentice Reid joins local colony

There’s a new bug in town as Jennifer Reid, who campaigned mainly at Assiniboia Downs this season, arrived in Toronto last Saturday.

And it didn’t take long for Reid to make her presence felt as she guided Boulder Springs to victory at Fort Erie in her first trip around a one-mile oval.

“I thought, why not?,” said Reid, who had been approached by agent Ron Burke about making the move east for the last part of the season.

“I had everything to gain, and it would be good experience. I’d love to stay here.”

Reid, 22, was born in Edmonton and, once she set her sights upon becoming a jockey, attended Alberta’s Olds College for its renowned exercise rider and jockey training program.

“I galloped, rode, groomed,” Reid said. “I did everything and anything.”

After beginning her career at Northlands in 2009, Reid did most of her riding at Alberta’s Lethbridge and Grande Prairie the following year, winning 26 races.

The current season has been by far her best to date, however, as Reid won 20 races at Assiniboia Downs to finish in a tie for eighth place in the standings.

“I had a good meet in Winnipeg”, said Reid who also won three races at Marquis Downs and a pair at Lethbridge for total purses of more than $190,000 on the campaign.

“I won five races there on the final weekend.”

Reid was scheduled to ride Bullonthewire for trainer Mort Hardy here Wednesday evening and has two calls on Thursday’s program.