04/20/2012 12:17PM

Woodbine: Sweet Cassiopeia gets class test in Whimsical

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Sweet Cassiopeia ended last year on a high note with victories in her last three outings. On Sunday, Sweet Cassiopeia will be looking to continue those winning ways in headier company when she faces nine rivals in the six-furlong Whimsical Stakes at Woodbine.

“She’s been excellent,” said Barbara Minshall, who trains the homebred 4-year-old for owners Dan Considine and Steve Snowden. “She’s training really well.”

Sweet Cassiopeia, bred in Kentucky, began her career with a fourth-place finish for a $50,000 claiming price here last July and went on to finish second in three straight races before launching her streak.

“She was smart, right from the get-go, and she’s just gotten stronger and better,” said Minshall.

Following her most recent success, which came under second-level allowance terms here last Nov. 12, Minshall gave Sweet Cassiopeia a short break before sending her to Webb Carroll’s training center in South Carolina.

“I’d go up once a month, see all my horses, and stay a week or so,” said Minshall, who spent her winter in Florida. “It was only about a 5 1/2 hour drive; it was an easy trip.”

Minshall had entered Sweet Cassiopeia in a third-level allowance here last weekend but when that race failed to fill despite being carried over the Whimsical became the race of choice.

“Obviously she’s got to step it up,” said Minshall. “But, she’s a very good filly that’s never really been asked to run hard since she started winning. She’s got lots of gears.”

Jim McAleney, who piloted Sweet Cassiopeia to her three successes, retains the mount.

Queen’s Plate prospect at Keeneland

Aldous Snow, a Queen’s Plate hopeful trained by Malcolm Pierce, has been entered in a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Keeneland on Sunday.

Owned by Sam-Son Farm, Aldous Snow finished eighth when making his seasonal bow in a 1 1/16-mile first-level off the turf allowance at Fair Grounds on March 25.

Pierce said that he was not overly concerned about that performance..

“I just needed to get a race into him,” said Pierce. “When it’s all said and done, and we get through the Queen’s Plate if we make it that far, I think he’ll be strictly grass.”

Aldous Snow started once on the Polytrack surface here last year, finishing a closing fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity.

Two stakes for Pierce at separate tracks

Pierce also will be represented on two stakes fronts Sunday with Eye of the Leopard entered in Keeneland’s Ben Ali and Miss Inclined in the Whimsical.

Eye of the Leopard, winner of the 2009 Queen’s Plate for Sam-Son and trainer Mark Frostad, will be making his first start for Pierce in the 1 1/8-mile Ben Ali, which offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

Miss Inclined, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly owned by Mueller Thoroughbred Stable, is coming off a win under second-level allowance terms in a one-mile turf race at Fair Grounds.

Dead On possible for Queenston

Dead On, another Queen’s Plate candidate who finished second for Pierce and Sam-Son when making his first start of 2012 in a Fair Grounds allowance, also is amongst the trainer’s 11 horses currently at Keeneland..

“I’m going to bring him home for either the Queenston or an allowance race,” said Pierce. “He ran pretty hard in his last start at the Fair Grounds, so I’m giving him a couple more weeks between his races.

The $150,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds, will be run here May 5, Kentucky Derby Day.

“I was very happy with his Fair Grounds race, but he didn’t work that well on the Poly here last Sunday,” said Pierce.

“I also left the blinkers off him, and I wasn’t looking for a big work, and he was kind of looking around.

“I’ll work him back with blinkers on and I think he’ll go better.”

Dead On won his maiden over seven furlongs of Polytrack here last September and finished seventh, but beaten just 5 3/4 lengths, in the Coronation Futurity.