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Woodbine turf beckons to Roxy Gap in Ontario Damsel
By Ron Gierkink
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Roxy Gap should be formidable when she goes back to the grass Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Ontario Damsel Stakes, a one-mile event that drew seven Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies.
Roxy Gap was one of the leading 2-year-old fillies on the grounds last year. Her lone turf race, the allowance prep for the Natalma Stakes, was arguably her best. She led all the way to score by nearly five lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 89.
Roxy Gap took the seven-furlong Fury Stakes following a layoff here April 30. She is exiting a fourth-place finish behind Inglorious and Spooky Kitten in the nine-furlong Woodbine Oaks.
“Roxy Gap had a really bad trip in the Oaks,” said trainer Mark Casse, who also trains Spooky Kitten. “She didn’t rate the way we would have liked her to, and the pace was slow, which had something to do it with it. I don’t know that she wants to mess with Spooky Kitten.”
Casse said he believes that Roxy Gap could have a productive future on the grass.
“Her best race from a numbers standpoint so far was on the turf,” Casse said. “If she runs a big race here, then we may go to Saratoga with her. We think that she could possibly run with the best fillies around on the turf, so that’s why we’re going to head in that direction.”
Casse supplemented two longshots to the Damsel, Idratherbeatthespa and probable pacemaker Bingo, who is adding blinkers.
Grand Style will try to outperform her mediocre turf record on Saturday. She finished seventh and eighth in Saratoga maiden races last year when trained by Rusty Arnold in her only starts on grass. On Polytrack, Grand Style ran a respectable fifth in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in April, but could only manage seventh here most recently in the Oaks.
“She ran flat in the Oaks, but she’s come back to train good,” said trainer Mike Doyle. “She worked really good last week. I think she’s better now than she was when she ran in the Oaks.”
Doyle is using this race as a prep for the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf route here July 31.
Doyle said she may be better on the grass now than she was last year.
“The Wonder Where will be a good spot for her distance-wise, and the timing is good,” Doyle said. “[Arnold] loved her when he ran her on the turf in her first couple of starts, but she ran green.”
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