10/28/2011 11:21AM

Woodbine: Stormy Lord fresh for Labeeb Stakes

Alyssa Spakowski/Equi-Photo
Stormy Lord wins the PTHA President’s Cup at Parx Racing.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Stormy Lord, with three turf stakes wins under his belt this season, looms as the horse to beat here in Sunday’s $100,000 Labeeb.

The Labeeb, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up, is scheduled for one mile on turf and attracted a field of 11.

Stormy Lord, an Ontario-foaled 4-year-old gelding, won the Grade 2 Connaught Cup over seven furlongs of soft turf in his seasonal bow and later won the Ontario Jockey Club over the same distance of firm going.

Most recently, Stormy Lord journeyed to Parx Racing and was a sharp winner of the PTHA President’s Cup over 1 1/8 miles of yielding turf with Justin Stein in the irons.

That race took place six weeks ago, but trainer Ian Black is not concerned about the mini-layoff.

“He runs well fresh,” said Black, who has been pleased to see Stormy Lord employ a stalking style rather than his previous front-running approach in his last two victories.

“They didn’t go very fast early in Parx, and Justin had him sitting off it,” Black said. “He’s been relaxing a little better; I think he’ll be fine.”

Stein retains the mount on Stormy Lord, who drew the No. 5 post.

Hollinger, who ended an almost two-year drought when winning under third-level allowance terms last time out, will be looking to build on that success for trainer Roger Attfield.

“He’d been sitting on a win; it was nice to see him get it,” said Attfield, who had watched Hollinger register a game half-length score over 6 1/2 furlongs of good turf. “He’s doing great.”

Tyler Pizarro, who has ridden Hollinger in all but one of his 12 career outings, will do the honors.

Safety Zone, who won last year’s Labeeb when trained by Mark Casse, will be looking for his third straight win since joining trainer Josie Carroll’s barn here in August.

A Kentucky-bred 7-year-old gelding who originally was trained by Casse for Bill Farish, Safety Zone had been claimed for $62,500 and $20,000 and then reclaimed for $40,000 by Casse on owner Eugene Melnyk’s behalf.

“It doesn’t seem to matter who he’s with, he just runs,” said Carroll, who is 2 for 2 with Safety Zone after sending him out to win with $62,500 tags in optional claiming/second-level allowance races over a mile and 70 yards of Polytrack and then 1 1/16 miles of turf.

“He’s just about as honest a horse as you could ask for.”

Carroll also will send out Silver Rock and Merkabah for the Labeeb.

Canadian International pair drop

While coming into the Labeeb after competing in the Canadian International isn’t the most common of circumstances, both Celtic Conviction and Kara’s Orientation will be following that path.

Celtic Conviction, trained by Mike Doyle, had finished second in photo finishes in his three starts prior to the Canadian International, all in stakes races here on the turf including the Breeders’ at 1 1/2 miles.

Racing over the same distance and surface in the Canadian International, the Ontario-sired 3-year-old gelding was contentious early and then rallied mildly before tiring to finish 15 1/2 lengths behind the winner in ninth place.

“He came out of it good,” Doyle said. “We’ll take one more kick at the cat. The distance isn’t perfect, but it’s his last chance on the turf here this year.”

Kara’s Orientation, who was claimed for $20,000 here in May 2010, became a stakes winner in the Grade 2 Sky Classic over 1 1/4 miles of good turf here Aug. 21 and then finished 11th in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.

In the Canadian International, the Kentucky-bred 4-year-old colt showed his customary early foot but weakened to finish 11th, beaten 18 3/4 lengths.

“He ran his race,” trainer Steven Chircop said. “He led for a mile and a quarter, but then the party was over. He tried hard.

“This is the last grass race of the year for him, and I don’t think the distance is a problem. He was beaten seven lengths in the Mile and came out of the race with a foot issue.”

Emile Ramsammy, who had been the regular rider of both Kara’s Orientation and Celtic Conviction, went with Celtic Conviction for the Canadian International, but is back with Kara’s Orientation for the Labeeb.

Leading rider Luis Contreras will ride Celtic Conviction.

Artic Fern preps for Kennedy Road

Artic Fern, who returned from a three-month layoff to become a stakes winner in the six-furlong King Corrie here Sept. 21, heads a solid field in Sunday’s six-furlong allowance prep for the Kennedy Road Stakes.

The Nov. 19 Kennedy Road, also a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

“I think he’ll run big,” said Mike Keogh, who trains the 4-year-old Arctic Fern for owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz. “He’s training great.”

Keogh also entered Say No More in the Labeeb, but said the 3-year-old gelding might not run if the turf is too soft.

‘Sky High’ entered in maiden race

Sky High Lady, who is on the waiting list for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, has been entered in a one-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs on Sunday.

“We haven’t made a total decision yet; we may want to come out,” said Mark Casse, who trains the homebred Sky High Lady for John Oxley.

Sky High Lady, who is a maiden after two starts but was beaten just two lengths as the fourth-place finisher in the 1 1/16-mile Mazarine here Oct. 8, also is a prospect for the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.

“If she were to win impressively Sunday, we could bring her back there,” Casse said.

Golden History, who is entered in the Grade 2 Pocahontas, and Delightful Magic, in a maiden race, also will represent Casse and Oxley on Churchill’s opening-day program.

An impressive winner of her seven-furlong debut here Oct. 2, Golden History also would be a candidate for the Grade 2, $150,000 Golden Rod.

Delightful Magic has been sitting on a win with pairs of seconds and thirds in her four starts to date.