06/28/2011 11:20AM

Woodbine: Top the Podium faces two-turn challenge


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Top the Podium will experiment around two turns Thursday at Woodbine in the 1 1/16-mile fourth race, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds that also includes Ohio Derby participant El Grayling.

Top the Podium has started three times, all for trainer Malcolm Pierce. After running fourth in his debut, he captured a seven-furlong maiden special from just off the pace in October. Following an eight-month layoff June 4, Top the Podium was a deceptively good fourth on a speed-favoring Polytrack. He made up some ground along the rail in that slow-paced allowance to finish 2 1/4 lengths back of Something Extra, who came back to run second in the Charlie Barley Stakes.

Patrick Husbands will ride Top the Podium, who is by the very successful Medaglia d’Oro, the sire of classic winner Rachel Alexandra. Top the Podium’s dam, My Vintage Port, won four stakes going long at Woodbine.

Kentucky shipper El Grayling was on this year’s Kentucky Derby trail. After being eased during a troubled trip in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, he was a distant fifth in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. Last time out, he raced evenly for fourth in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown.

Trainer Mike Maker has enlisted leading rider Luis Contreras to pilot El Grayling, who has never competed over synthetics.

Sandy Gully definitely belongs in this event. He rallied along the rail to beat $50,000 maidens in his lone 2-year-old appearance Nov 21. Sandy Gully was a tired fifth in a tough allowance sprint when he came off the sidelines April 17. He lost a nail-biter to Alpha Bettor, while leaving Moonshine Mullin in his wake, in an allowance route May 8. Moonshine Mullin and Alpha Better subsequently ran one-two, a nose apart, in the Victoria Park Stakes.

Sandy Gully bypassed last Sunday’s Queen’s Plate after ending up seventh in the June 5 Plate Trial Stakes. Jono Jones will ride the Cary Brooks-trained gelding.

Consolidator Joe is stretching out off a third in a six-furlong allowance, and is bred for the task at hand. He is being reunited with Eurico Da Silva, who was aboard for his maiden triumph.

The Mark Casse-trained Sardonicus hasn’t shown much since a third-place finish in an April 17 allowance. His new rider, Tyler Pizarro, teamed up with Casse to run second in the $1 million Plate on 61-1 shot Hippolytus.