08/10/2012 1:38PM

Woodbine: Tiller pair of Grace Phil and It’s Gail double-tough in Eternal Search


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Bob Tiller should be loaded for bear in the $125,000 Eternal Search Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday, when he runs Grace Phil and It’s Gail in the 1 1/16-mile route for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

Grace Phil is by far the most accomplished runner in the field. She took the 1 1/16-mile South Ocean Stakes at 2 and won her season opener this spring, a seven-furlong Ontario-sired allowance.

Grace Phil was freshened after a lackluster performance as the favorite in the Lady Angela Stakes. Following a two-month break July 21, she won her turf debut in the restricted Passing Mood Stakes. Under a patient ride from Steve Bahen, she saved ground in a stalking position on the turn before splitting rivals in the lane to prevail by a half-length.

“She’s in great shape,” Tiller said. “She’s happy. There’s no reason why she can’t run big again.”

It’s Gail closed gradually after getting away slowly to land her debut in a seven-furlong maiden special June 2. Three weeks later, she doubled up in a 1 1/16-mile Ontario-sired allowance after pressing a sleepy pace.

Most recently, in an allowance on the grass, It’s Gail was a non-threatening second to Niigon’s Princess, who is headed for the Victoriana Stakes. In spite of that respectable effort, Tiller felt that It’s Gail was out of her element on the grass.

“She tried like hell,” Tiller said. “I don’t think [turf] is her preferred surface. There’s no question she’s at her best going long on the Poly.”

Tiller predicted that a peak performance could be forthcoming from It’s Gail on Sunday.

“I also expect a big race from her,” Tiller said. “She’s doing good. She’s maturing. If anybody’s stopping, she’ll come running.”

Luis Contreras will ride It’s Gail again.

Blues Dancing should ensure an honest pace in her initial venture around two turns. She has a blend of speed and stamina in her pedigree.

Blues Dancing won her stakes debut in the May 20 Lady Angela by nearly four lengths, securing the early lead and then widening her advantage throughout. She never challenged over yielding turf against males in the June 9 Bold Ruckus Stakes.

Future Surprise and Consecutive ran one-two in an Ontario-sired allowance route July 5.

Future Surprise prevailed by 7 1/4 lengths after setting a moderate pace that day, earning a 63 Beyer Speed Figure.

Consecutive returned to finish second in the seven-furlong Passing Mood, which was her fourth consecutive runner-up placing.