05/09/2013 12:42PM

Woodbine: River Seven finally set for 2013 debut in Queenston Stakes

Michael Burns
River Seven, who won the Grade 3 Grey Stakes in his final start as a 2-year-old, will make his first start of the year in Saturday's Queenston Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The talented River Seven makes his belated season debut Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong stakes that serves as a stepping-stone to the $1 million Queen’s Plate.

River Seven faced the best of his division at 2 last year. He was a distant third behind eventual champion 2-year-old and Canadian Horse of the Year Uncaptured while debuting in the June 30 Clarendon Stakes. A month later, he rallied for second behind Uncaptured in the six-furlong Vandal Stakes.

After ending up second as the 2-5 favorite in a two-turn maiden special weight race Sept. 3, River Seven won the Grade 3 Grey Stakes over a good field that included Uncaptured. He hasn’t started since the Oct. 7 Grey, in which he tied his career-best Beyer Speed Figure with an 85.

Trainer Nick Gonzalez said River Seven has trained encouragingly since encountering a stumbling block in Florida.

“I had a minor setback with him over the winter – not anything serious, but I got started a little later than I wanted to,” Gonzalez said. “We got four or five good works into him at Gulfstream. He breezed awesome here the other day. He’s a very good horse.”

Gonzalez said the nine-furlong Plate Trial Stakes is next on River Seven’s agenda.

“The way the races are spread out, you have (the Queenston), the June 9 Trial, and then the July 7 Plate,” Gonzalez said. “You have four weeks, four weeks and four weeks. That’s the way we’re going to approach it.”

Trainer Mark Casse entered Dynamic Sky, Star Contender, and Jagger M, a trio that makes up half the field of Ontario-bred 3-year-olds.

Dynamic Sky was on the Kentucky Derby trail. He raced three times over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs, where he won the Pasco Stakes, ran second in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis, and was fourth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

Dynamic Sky, who was scratched from last Sunday’s Wando Stakes, was a non-threatening ninth last time out in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.

“I don’t know why he didn’t do better in his last start,” Casse said. “We thought he trained good up to it. We were expecting a big race out of him, and he just didn’t run.”

Star Contender was one of the top 2-year-olds on the grounds last year, winning the Cup and Saucer Stakes on grass. He was beaten by double-digit lengths twice this year in stakes at Gulfstream and Keeneland.

Jagger M earned his first victory in his fourth career start last out, a six-furlong maiden special weight race at Keeneland April 13.