05/17/2013 11:46AM

Woodbine: Spring Venture can use Selene to make a case for herself

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Tom Keyser
Spring Venture was a distant eighth in the Ashland at Keeneland after breaking slowly.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – It was somewhat surprising that the talented but quirky Spring Venture missed out on Canadian champion 2-year-old filly honors last year to her accomplished stablemate, Spring in the Air.

Spring Venture will try to build her case for this year’s champion 3-year-old filly in Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Selene Stakes. For the Canadian-breds in the field, the 1 1/16-mile event is a prep for the June 9 Woodbine Oaks, for which Kentucky-bred Spring Venture is ineligible.

Spring Venture captured the Grade 2 Natalma on the grass and the Grade 3 Mazarine on the Polytrack here at 2. After taking the filly division of the OBS Championship Stakes in March, she finished a dull eighth in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland.

Trainer Mark Casse scratched Spring Venture from the Grade 3 Eight Belles Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs.

“She really likes Churchill, but it was a huge field, and it was tough,” Casse said. “She has a little temper, and if she gets bounced around a little, sometimes she won’t run. And if she doesn’t get away good in a big field, then she’s not going to run any good.”

Casse noted that when Spring Venture got away slowly in the Ashland, “I knew that she had no shot. She dances to a different tune.”

Spring in the Air is headed straight to the Oaks off her victory in the May 4 Fury Stakes. Casse felt her victory in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland was pivotal in the 2012 Sovereign Award voting.

“I just think that any time you win a Grade 1, a lot of people look at that,” Casse explained. “What’s ironic is that Spring in the Air has never beaten Spring Venture.”

Nipissing is making her second start with Lasix. She was unbeaten in four starts at 2, which featured victories in two restricted 1 1/16-mile stakes, the Princess Elizabeth and South Ocean.

Nipissing was a distant sixth in a contentious field when she came off the shelf in the Ashland, which Emollient won convincingly on the front end.

Chiefswood Stable racing manager Robert Landry said the Rachel Halden-trained Nipissing began her march toward the Woodbine Oaks in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland.

“We didn’t really want to run her there,” said Landry, adding that Halden didn’t want to turn the filly back in distance, “and we had few other options. If you take away the winner, she didn’t really run a bad race.”

Overheard and Thats Our Princess were both supplemented for $3,000 apiece.

Overheard has stuck to the turf since graduating here on the Polytrack on Nov. 2. She won a Dec. 13 optional claimer at Fair Grounds, where she was third following a layoff in the March 2 Allen LaCombe Memorial Stakes. Most recently, she was a wide-closing second in the Grade 3 Appalachian going a mile at Keeneland.

Thats Our Princess graduated at first asking in a six-furlong maiden special here May 4.