10/14/2011 1:27PM

Woodbine: Regally Ready needs to regain best form if he is to take Nearctic

Barbara D. Livingston
Regally Ready disappointed in his last start but may not have cared for the Parx turf course.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Regally Ready established himself as the leading turf sprinter on the continent early in the year, but his last two efforts were forgettable. He will try to rebound Sunday at Woodbine in the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes, a six-furlong Win and You’re In dash where the winner gains inclusion into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Regally Ready, a 4-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen, never tried the grass until last November, when he aired in a second-level allowance at Churchill Downs. He spent last winter at Santa Anita, where he won two stakes over the hillside turf course. He then returned to Churchill where he won the Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint on Kentucky Derby Day.

Following a layoff, Regally Ready returned on Aug. 6 and finished third as the heavy favorite in a stakes at Monmouth. He was a non-threatening 10th most recently in the Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap at Parx Racing.

“He just didn’t care much for the [Parx] turf course,” said Devron Leingang, Asmussen’s Woodbine assistant.

It has rained in the Toronto area this week and the turf on Sunday could range anywhere from good to soft.

Bated Breath heads the three-horse European contingent in the 13-horse field.

Bated Breath, a 4-year-old trained by Roger Charlton, has been one of the leading sprinters in England this year. In the Group 1 Sprint Cup on Sept. 3 at Haydock, he was second by a nose to Dream Ahead, who came back to upset the mighty Goldikova in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret.

Hitchens has chased Bated Breath home in each of his last two excursions, including a third in the Group  1 July Cup at Newmarket.

Unlike Bated Breath and Hitchens, Bewitched appears to prefer soft ground, over which she captured a Group 3 stakes in Ireland Sept. 11.

Signature Red won the last two runnings of the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes. Over a course labeled good, he could only manage a seventh in last year’s Nearctic.

“He doesn’t like soft going,” said trainer Sid Attard. “He likes it hard. His best races are when he’s been up close to the pace.

The versatile Gypsy Ring barely notched his first stakes in the restricted Overskate on the Polytrack Sept. 28.

“He had the ability to win by many, but he likes to lollygag once he gets up beside the last horse,” said jockey Justin Stein.

Right One, Riding the River, and Grand Adventure are all shortening up from the Woodbine Mile.

Right One awaited room before ending up a close third in the Grade  1 Mile. His trainer, Christophe Clement, captured the 2005 Nearctic with Steel Light.

Riding the River was beaten a length and a half when fifth after making a bid for the lead in the stretch of the Mile. He lost his previous race, the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes, by a head.

Trainer Dave Cotey said he isn’t concerned with the turnback in distance for Riding the River.

“He has a really good turn of foot,” said Cotey. “I think he’ll come running.”

Grand Adventure never threatened during a wide journey in the Mile. He was second in last year’s Nearctic behind Serious Attitude, a long-priced filly from England.

Jenny’s So Great ran a corker against her own sex when she took the Grade 3 Royal North Stakes going six furlongs in August.

Fatal Bullet, the 2008 Canadian Horse of the Year, has been idle since Aug. 28, when he finished third, beaten a head, after leading the way in the Grade 2 Play the King.