08/15/2012 2:17PM

Woodbine: Safety Zone good fit if rare dud disregarded


ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Safety Zone ran a rare clunker last time in his second try off the claim, but the classy 8-year-old is certainly eligible to rebound in Friday’s Woodbine headliner, a second-level optional $62,500 claiming race over a mile and a sixteenth on Polytrack.

Safety Zone was haltered for $62,500 from a fourth-place finish in his season opener, by CEC Farm and trainer Scott Fairlie. Three weeks later on June 16, he finished a commendable second for $80,000 to Hotep, who came right back to run second in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes. He defeated multiple stakes winner Stunning Stag in that one-mile turf event.

Most recently when favored in a Polytrack route at Friday’s $62,500 optional-claiming class, Safety Zone vied up front through soft fractions before fading to third.

Todd Kabel returns after a one-race absence to ride Safety Zone, who captured the 2010 Labeeb Stakes here on the grass. He is entered for a $60,000 tag.

The Chiefswood Stable entry of Thor’s Piper and Kurogane should garner ample support. Journeyman Jesse Campbell was named on both Paul Attard-trained runners.

Thor’s Piper won a first-level allowance in his final 2011 appearance and has maintained good form this year. He wound up fourth after pressing a slow pace when he came off the bench in a seven-furlong starter June 2 and then finished second in an optional claiming route to Alpha Better, who recently won the Grade 3 Seagram Cup Stakes.

Thor’s Piper also finished second in a nine-furlong optional claimer that was taken off the turf July 28, in the first time Jesse Campbell rode him.

Kurogane never challenged while racing wide over an inside-biased track when returning from a freshening June 17 in the restricted Steady Growth Stakes. He earned a moderate 78 Beyer Figure while beating first-level allowance opponents under Campbell on July 8.

Bear’s Tizz set tepid fractions and kept on going to prevail with an 86 Beyer in a seven-furlong allowance July 28. He was a distant fifth in both of his two-turn attempts last year but is a much better horse now and could be a speed threat under Gerry Olguin.

Cold Harbor is winless in six starts at the meet but accumulated four runner-up placings. He edged out Safety Zone for second in race won by Bowman’s Causeway on July 14 and was hung out five-wide on the first turn in a subsequent subpar performance.

Rounding out the field is Lord of Greatness, who was a flat fourth behind Cold Harbor and Safety Zone on July 14.

Lord of Greatness won 4 of 8 outings in 2011, but has been blanked in four starts this year.