07/13/2012 1:01PM

Woodbine: Spring in the Air looks sharp for debut in Shady Well Stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse sends out the well-regarded first-timer Spring in the Air and Bold Birdie in Sunday’s $150,000 Shady Well Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong dash for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies.

The Shady Well has been carded as the fourth race on the Woodbine card, in order to give several jockeys in the race the opportunity to ride in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes late Sunday afternoon at Fort Erie.

Patrick Husbands, who has the call on Dixie Strike in the Prince of Wales, will ride Spring in the Air.

Spring in the Air, a $130,000 2-year-old purchase, is out of a half-sister to Kentucky Derby runner-up Tejano Run. A daughter of Spring At Last, she recorded several bullet breezes in early June and went five-eighths in 1:00.60 on June 30 before traveling a half-mile from the gate in 48.60 seconds on July 6.

“I just love her,” Casse said. “I think she’s one of the best 2-year-old fillies we have this year. She worked tremendous at the sale. She’s just an average-looking filly, but she’s got a beautiful way of going. She’s got a great mind. She does things effortlessly.”

Bold Birdie finished a distant second, but was far from disgraced, in her 4 1/2-furlong debut May 26. The winner of that race, Just Got In, subsequently took the My Dear Stakes determinedly.

Bold Birdie won a five-furlong maiden special with the aid of a speed bias June 24, earning a 59 Beyer Speed Figure. A daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, she is a half-sister to the fast underachiever Quality Lass. Her dam, On the Podium, finished third in the Shady Well.

Casse said Bold Birdie has been a pleasant surprise.

“In the beginning, I thought she was just an average horse,” Casse said. “But her first race was good, and I thought her second race was even better. She came out that race and breezed better than I’ve ever seen her breeze.”

Cryptic Message was an authoritative debut winner against Ontario-sired opposition June 16, when she scored by 3 1/4 lengths and got a 53 Beyer. By Cryptograph and out of a Deputy Commander mare, she didn’t figure to master the 4 1/2-furlong distance then.

“She surprised me,” trainer Ralph Biamonte said. “She ran a big race. She didn’t break that good. I put her in there at the last minute. I had another one in there that I thought might be good. She’s trained good going up to this one, too. Going farther will be better for her.”

The maiden Evangeline’s Hope rallied from far back to finish a lapped-on third in the June 24 My Dear.