07/30/2011 11:17AM

Woodbine: Surface, distance suit Wild About Marie


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine track announcer Dan Loiselle could have a challenging call on holiday Monday, when Wild About Marie meets Wildcat Marie in the $150,000 Royal North Stakes, a Grade 3 turf sprint for fillies and mares.

The versatile Wild About Marie is 3 for 4 on the grass. Her Kentucky-based trainer, Jeff Thornbury, said the six-furlong distance of the Royal North should be a good fit for her.

“I think it’s an ideal spot, other than the fact that it’s going to be a large and contentious field,” said Thornbury. “We don’t often see that [turf] distance in the States. She’s already proven that she can run on the grass. She won two stakes on it this year.”

Wild About Marie outran Wildcat Marie for second in the 5 1/2-furlong Satin and Lace Stakes on June 21 over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs.

“She was closing,” said Thornbury. “It was a good race. I turned her out at the farm for a few days after that race. She’s had a little R and R, and is all set.”

Wild About Marie’s only poor recent performance came over a sloppy Churchill Downs strip in the Unbridled Sidney Stakes, which was taken off the turf.

“There was a torrential downpour that day,” Thornbury recalled. “Looking back, we shouldn’t have run, but she had run in the mud at Churchill before, and had done okay.”

The speedy Wildcat Marie, another daughter of Wildcat Heir, is trying the turf for the first time.

“I think she’ll be fine on it,” said trainer Marty Drexler. “That’s not really the concern, but the competition might be. I didn’t want to work her on the turf training track, because it’s different from the [main] turf.”

Wildcat Marie notched her stakes debut in her season opener in the Grade 3 Whimsical, and went on to finish third in the Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes.

Drexler said the synthetic surface at Presque Isle was in need of some rain on the day of the Satin and Lace, which made for a track that was unfavorable for speed types.

“It was a disaster of a track for her,” Drexler said. “The surface was deep and tiring, and she labored over it. She went a really fast half, put away the horse to the inside, and just tired the last sixteenth of a mile.”

Much Rejoicing, based in New York with trainer Jimmy Toner, may be at her best going three-quarters on the grass. She captured the Glia Stakes in May at Belmont, and was a fast-closing second there in the July 9 Caress Stakes. In between those two six-furlong sprints, she was a fading seventh traveling a mile in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes.

Sea Road, another New York invader, was a troubled fourth in the Caress, and a closing third in the Glia.

Maryland-based Supreme is exiting a victory in the 5 1/2-furlong Buckland Stakes at Colonial Downs.