07/20/2012 4:23PM

Woodbine: Stars to Shine has edge in Matron

Michael Burns
Stars to Shine (inside) held on for a nose victory in the Trillium.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Trainer Mark Frostad kept his options open with Stars to Shine, nominating the 5-year-old mare to both stakes races that will be run here Sunday.

Accomplished on both turf and Polytrack, Stars to Shine could have faced males in the Grade 2, $300,000 Nijinsky over 1 1/8 miles of turf or stayed with her own sort in the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Frostad eventually chose the latter option, and Stars to Shine looms the probable choice in the Ontario Matron’s field of eight.

“She had been off eight months, it’s just her second start of the year, and she has acted well on the Polytrack surface,” said Frostad.

Stars to Shine was injured during her close fifth-place finish in last fall’s Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland and returned to action here June 24 in the 1 1/8 mile Trillium.

Stalking the pace that day with Alex Solis in the irons for the first time, Stars to Shine hit the front around the final turn and repelled several challenges while holding on for a nose victory.

Her immediate victim there was the odds-on favorite, Upperline, who came back to finish third in the Grade 3 Modesty over Arlington’s turf course last Saturday.

Frostad believes Stars to Shine will move forward off her Trilllium effort.

“She’s been training like it, and she’s had a month between starts,” said Frostad, who has sent out Stars to Shine to win each of her three outings on the main track here, including her first stakes victory in last summer’s 1 1/16 mile Belle Mahone.

Ariana D, runner-up to eventual filly-mare champion Embur’s Song in last year’s Ontario Matron, returned here to trainer Laurie Silvera early this month after finishing third in each of her three starts this year in graded stakes south of the border,

“I would definitely say she arrived in excellent order,” said Silvera, who has sent out Ariana D to win the Bessarabian and the Avowal– both over seven furlongs – and to finish in the money in seven of her nine local appearances.

“I’m not convinced as to exactly what is her best distance,”added Silvera, who is training the homebred 6-year-old Ariana D for Bill Thompson. “It more depends on how the race is run.

“But, I’m expecting her to run right up to her best. On her best behavior, she definitely is right there with the best of these.”

Omar Moreno, who has been Ariana D’s only rider here, regains the mount.

Other stakes winners in the Ontario Matron include the well-traveled Hooh Why, who was supplemented at a cost of $3,000, and Bear It’s Time, who will be making her seasonal bow.

Smart Penny and Maristar both were right there last time out in the Trillium, ending just a head apart and beaten just over a half-length as the third and fourth-place finishers.

Rashnaa, Rock the Moon, and Ima Soul Miss round out the field.

Courtville seeks first stakes win

Silvera also is looking forward to Wednesday night’s $125,000 Deputy Minister, the seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds in which he plans to send out Courtville in search of his first stakes victory.

Courtville, who is owned by Silvera, last saw action on June 10, ending 11 1/4 lengths back as the third-place finisher in the open Victoria Park Stakes over 1 1/8 miles.

The top two finishers there were stakes winners in their next starts, Prospective prevailing on the dirt in Thistledown’s Grade 3, 1 1/16 mile Ohio Derby and Patrioticandproud upsetting Woodbine’s Toronto Cup at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Courtville would be heading into Deputy Minister with a 2-for-7 record, including a victory over 1 1/16 miles in a restricted first-level allowance.

“I could have run him in a non-winners of three, but I elected to wait on this race,” said Silvera.

Casse has plans for four stakes

Trainer Mark Casse is planning to touch all the stakes bases here next weekend with candidates for Saturday’s $150,000 Duchess and $150,000 Vandal and Sunday’s $250,000 Wonder Where and Grade 3, $150,000 Royal North.

Spirited Miss, who is coming off a first-level allowance win at six furlongs, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 here Friday in preparation for the Duchess, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies in which Casse also could enter Golden History and Sky High Lady.

Uncaptured, who remained undefeated in two starts with his 5 1/2-length win in the Clarendon Stakes for Ontario-breds, is the horse to beat in the similarly restricted Vandal at six furlongs.

On Friday, Uncaptured breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 while working in company with unraced stablemate Dynamic Sky, also is nominated to the Vandal.

Casse has a pair for the Wonder Where in Dene Court and Black Bird Rock.

Dene Court will be seeking her third straight stakes win on the turf while stretching out for the Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile race for Canadian-bred fillies. Her earlier successes came in the one-mile Ontario Colleen and 6 1/2-furlong Alywow.

Black Bird Rock is coming off a second-place finish in the 1 1/16 mile Bison City behind Blue Heart, who also is Wonder Where-bound.

Roxy Gap, a beaten choice last time out here in the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too, will be looking for her third stakes win of the season in the Royal North, a six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

On Friday, Roxy Gap tuned up with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.60

Field Commission is retired

Trainer Danny Vella reports that Field Commission, who was pulled up and vanned off following Calder’s Smile Sprint on July 7, has been retired.

“He had a condylar fracture, in behind,” said Vella, who trained Field Commission for all but the final two starts of his 30-race career and guided the Ontario-sired horse to a Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion sprinter in 2009.

Field Commission was injured and did not see action in 2011 but returned with a rousing victory for trainer Curtis Garrison in the six-furlong Ponche at Calder on June 9.

Vella once owned a 20 percent stake in Field Commission, with Edward Seltzer holding the balance, but the trainer said that he now is one of 40 shareholders and that stud plans for the 7-year-old horse have not been finalized.

Field Commission compiled a record of 8-7-5 for earnings of more than $1 million with his major local successes including the Grade 2 Nearctic over six furlongs of turf and the Grade 3 Vigil at seven furlongs on Polytrack.

◗ Lucky Melissa, who shipped from Woodbine to win the $125,000 Rainbow Connection Stakes at Fort Erie on July 1, will be ineligible to race in Ontario for 90 days, ending Oct. 5, after testing positive for the Grade 3 medication acepromazine.

Trainer Carlo Fuoco, who owns Lucky Melissa in partnership with Joseph Trdak, has requested that a split sample be submitted for testing, and there will be no hearing or possible purse redistribution until the result is made available.