11/22/2011 2:07PM

Woodbine: Splendiferous to try Polytrack in Display Stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Steve Margolis, whose current base is Churchill Downs, is in the process of relocating to Fair Grounds, where he figures to be a major player at the meeting that begins Thursday.

But Margolis, in absentia, also plans to be keeping an eye on Woodbine this Sunday, with Splendiferous slated to go postward in the $150,000 Display Stakes.

Splendiferous, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old who is owned by Jake Ballis, has started three times on the turf and would be making his Polytrack debut in the 1 1/16-mile Display.

“We know he’s not a dirt horse,” Margolis said. “He’s run a couple of good races on grass, and we’ll see if he’s the same or better on Polytrack.

“If he can step up on Polytrack, it gives us more options for next spring’s races, like the Blue Grass.”

Splendiferous debuted with a $75,000 claiming price and was an impressive winner over 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga for trainer Mark Casse.

Purchased privately shortly thereafter, Splendiferous came back to finish a troubled fifth in the Grade 2 With Anticipation over the same distance and surface.

In his subsequent start, which came in the Grade 3 Bourbon over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs, Splendiferous was prominent throughout but wound up fourth under new rider John Velazquez.

“He ran a very good race in the Bourbon, but it was a weird race,” said Margolis, noting that Splendiferous had been closest to the front-running Here Comes Frazier when that one swerved in sharply and hit the rail while launching his rider, Julien Leparoux, toward the infield.

“When that horse veered in, [Velazquez] had to take a hold because he was kind of following him a bit. He kind of lost his focus”

Margolis has addressed that issue with a change of equipment for Splendiferous.

“I’ve equipped him with a little set of blinkers, to try to keep him more focused, and he’s been wearing them working and galloping,” said Margolis, who covered another base by shipping in Splendiferous to trainer Danny Vella last week.

“He’s been training on Polytrack at Keeneland, but they’re all different,” Margolis said. “We’re taking a shot for a stakes win, and we want to give the horse the opportunity to run his best race, being able to gallop and work over the surface.”

Vella, who is acquainted with Margolis through some mutual owners and business interests, sent out Splendiferous to breeze five furlongs in 1:02.20 here last Saturday.

“He has a beautiful stride,” Vella said.

Velazquez, whose stakes successes here include two editions of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and three E.P. Taylors, including this year’s with Miss Keller, has the call on Splendiferous for the Display.

“It’s great, because he knows him after riding him last time, and he’s done so well there,” Margolis said.

Woodbine trainers set up at Fair Grounds

Woodbine-based trainers Malcolm Pierce, Josie Carroll, and Mark Frostad have all been regulars at Fair Grounds in recent years and have divisions there again this season.

Pierce, who has 25 stalls, already is in New Orleans and could see his first action there this weekend.

At the last Fair Grounds meeting, Pierce’s 54 starters yielded seven wins, nine seconds, and four thirds for earnings of $297,130.

“We’re settling in with our first dozen,” said Pierce, whose wife and assistant, Sally, is still at Woodbine. “Sally’s got another load coming down this week.

“We’ve got a nice group of horses, I think – horses that we got a race into and some 2-year-olds whose races didn’t come up. Hopefully, we’ll come out of here and bring home some Plate- and Oaks-type horses in the spring.”

Carroll, whose most recent Fair Grounds venture netted six wins, six seconds, and a pair of thirds for earnings of $270,510 from 39 starters, will have her first entrant of the current meeting when Silver Feeling competes in a maiden $15,000 claiming race for 2-year-old fillies on Friday.

Warrens Heights, a homebred 3-year-old gelding owned by Eugene Melnyk who is a half-brother to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge, is among other Carroll charges who will be occupying her 20 stalls there.

Down the road, Carroll will be looking forward to running Mullins Beach, who was an allowance winner and was stakes placed on the turf at the Fair Grounds meeting when trained by Pierce.

Mullins Beach, a homebred 5-year-old who races for Melynk, finished a distant fifth when debuting for Carroll here in the six-furlong Ontario Fashion on Oct. 30, but then ended a solid second in last Sunday’s Grade 3 Bessarabian at seven furlongs.

“She’d gotten quite tired in her first start, but she’d been training really well,” said Carroll, who will be remaining at Woodbine through the end of the meeting. “She was in very tough on Sunday. She really exceeded my expectations.”

Frostad, who won with 6 of 30 starters and added a second and seven thirds for earnings of $207,750 at the 2010-2011 Fair Grounds meeting, has 16 stalls there and will be splitting his time between the racetrack and the farm in Ocala.

“I have six horses down there now,” said Frostad, who could run the stakes-placed Poof Too in Saturday’s $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf course.

Roan Inish retired, will be bred to Arch

Roan Inish, who has been off since finishing third in last year’s Queen’s Plate, has been retired and is at Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky awaiting a date with the stallion Arch.

Carolyn Costigan, who sent out Roan Inish to win the Woodbine Oaks and the previous year’s Princess Elizabeth, had given the homebred filly every chance to return to the races, but a comeback now has been ruled out.

“She had a ligament injury, which we’d thought would heal in time, but then arthritis set in,” said Costigan, who trained Roan Inish for her father, Bob Costigan.

Roan Inish, a daughter of Elusive Quality and the two-time Sovereign Award-winning turf female Inish Glora, retires with her two stakes wins, three seconds, and a third for earnings of $628,329 from eight starts.

“She’s going to be bred to Arch,” said Costigan, who will be setting up shop at Florida’s Payson Park for the first time during the off season.

“I wanted to try something different,” said Costigan, who was at Florida’s Palm Meadows last year after spending the winter prior to her rookie season at San Luis Rey Downs in California.

Costigan, who has 12 stalls at Payson Park, plans to do some racing at Gulfstream Park over the winter.