09/16/2011 3:14PM

Woodbine: Talent runs deep in 14-horse Canadian lineup

Barbara D. Livingston
Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Shared Account makes her first start since May in the Canadian for trainer Graham Motion.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Sunday’s $1 million Woodbine Mile and $500,000 Northern Dancer both have richer purses and Grade 1 status, but the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian outstrips those stakes is in terms of both quantity and quality with a field of 14 set to go postward over 1 1/8 miles of turf.

Trainer Graham Motion, who is shipping up Shared Account and Apple Charlotte from his Fair Hill, Md., base, agrees that the Canadian is far from an easy spot.

“I think this is the deepest race for fillies and mares on the turf this season,” said Motion.

Shared Account is the more accomplished of Motion’s entrants, having upset the Grade 1, 1  3/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs last November.

The 5-year-old has started just once in the interim, however, and that was a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico on May 21.

“In hindsight, it wasn’t the best race to come back in,” said Motion. “The grass was quite rough, and she carried a lot of weight. It’s taken her a while to get over it, but I’ve really been patient with her and I hope I’ve got her back on track.”

Motion also is hoping that the Canadian can be Shared Account’s stepping-stone to a repeat appearance in the Filly and Mare Turf.

“The distance is right, and the timing is right,” said the trainer.

Apple Charlotte, a 4-year-old, recorded her first stakes win over 1 1/16 miles of soft going when she last saw action in Penn National’s Red Carpet on July 29.

“She’s a filly on the improve,” said Motion. “I’m kind of anxious to see how she steps up.”

Zagora, who gave trainer Chad Brown his first Grade 1 stakes win in Saratoga’s 1  1/8-mile Diana on July 30, is the morning-favorite for the Canadian at 3-1 and obviously would be tough on a repeat.

Fantasia, coming off a closing fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at 1 3/16 miles after winning the Grade 3 Modesty over 1 1/16 miles on the Arlington turf course, won the River Memories at one mile here last fall for trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Never Retreat, beaten less than five lengths as the seventh-place finisher in the Beverly D., had won Woodbine’s Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly prior to that, defeating Bay to Bay by 1 1/4 lengths.

Bay to Bay had left Never Retreat in second place here in the Grade 2 Nassau at one mile, and most recently finished a close third in the Diana.

The contention, in fact, runs so deep that last year’s winner Miss Keller is listed as a 15-1 chance.

Miss Keller hasn’t finished better than fourth in five starts since following up her Canadian score with a second-place finish here in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes.

“She hasn’t been right, up until just recently,” said Roger Attfield, who also will be sending out Mekong Melody and Perfect Shirl.

“She had some female issues, but all that seems to be behind her. I’m expecting a big race.”

Mark Frostad also has a trio for the Canadian in Magic Broomstick, Stars to Shine, and Forest Uproar. Magic Broomstick finished third in last year’s Canadian, which went with just a six-horse field.

Hooh Why, coming off a win in a restricted stakes over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Arlington, will be an outsider but has Grade 1 stakes credentials via her win in Keeneland’s Ashland two years ago.

Locally-based Woolly Bear can be counted upon to show early speed.