06/07/2011 3:25PM

Woodbine: Turf fillies grab attention

Michael Burns
Bay to Bay, with Luis Contreras riding, wins the Nassau.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Overlooked amid last weekend’s Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate hoopla were a couple of fine performances by two fillies whose specialty is turf racing.

On Saturday the female of the hour was Bay to Bay, who notched her most important win to date in the Grade 2, $301,200 Nassau.

On Sunday it was New Normal, who got back on target in the $100,000 Alywow at 6 1/2 furlongs.

While the Nassau had shaped up as a competitive event, Bay to Bay emerged a rather comfortable two-length winner under new rider Luis Contreras.

The Nassau, contested over one mile of yielding going, was clocked in 1:36.48, almost five seconds off the course record, but Lynch had not been concerned by the condition of the turf after several hours of heavy rain began pelting the Woodbine area on Saturday morning.

“I think that might have played a little bit to her favor,” said Lynch, who trains the Florida-bred 4-year-old Bay to Bay for owner Rob Smithen. “When she ran at Arlington last year, there was a little bit of cut in the ground, and she handled it well.”

Bay to Bay, competing over a course perhaps generously rated as “good,” had captured the one-mile American 2000 Guineas by 2 1/2 lengths in a slow 1:39.22 last May 22.

Although she had made each of her four starts here as a 2-year-old, including a win in the Grade 3 Natalma over one mile of turf, Bay to Bay’s local opportunities were limited last year, and she did not make an afternoon appearance at Woodbine.

That campaign, in fact, was cut short after just four starts when Bay to Bay finished ninth in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Saratoga on July 28.

“That was by design,” said Lynch, of sending Bay to the Bay to drydock after the Lake George. “She’s not a real big filly, and she’d shipped around a lot. I think she was just plain tuckered out.”

Lynch also was convinced that Bay to Bay was not as comfortable around the tight turns on the turf courses such as Sarotoga and Monmouth over which she had competed, and his long-term plan was based upon a 2011 campaign at Woodbine.

“She’s a horse that likes one turn, and likes the long stretch here,” said Lynch. “Our goal for her this year was to try and have make her competitive enough to stay here for the program at Woodbine.

To that end, Lynch started Bay to Bay twice at on the turf at Gulfsrteam Park this winter and she ran well on both occasions, finishing a close fifth in the one-mile Honey Fox and then second in a stakes-caliber allowance/$62,500 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

Now, after having sailed through the Nassua with flying colors, Bay to Bay will be heading into the Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly, the 1 1/8-mile turf race that is next up for the filly and mare division here July 10.

“I thought she got enough out of this race, that she won’t have any trouble stretching out,” said Lynch.

New Normal may travel

New Normal, a homebred who races for Robert S. Evans and is trained by Mark Frostad, was recording her second career stakes win in the Alywow, an open race for 3-year-old fillies in which she was ridden for the first time by Patrick Husbands.

Last year, she had captured the Grade 3 Natalma here over one mile of grass and went on to finish eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The Alywow was just the second start since then for New Normal, who had set the pace before weakening slightly to finish eighth in the Grade 3 Appalachian over one mile of turf at Churchill Downs on April 21.

“There’s not much of a program here for her, unfortunately,” said Frostad, noting that the next divisional turf race for New Normal would be the Aug. 27 Ontario Colleen, a one-mile stakes which offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000,

“Polytrack would be an option, I guess. She trains fine on dirt, Polytrack, turf – nothing seems to bother her.”

Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, racing manager for Evans, was here for New Normal’s return to the winner’s circle and added that going on the road would be an obvious alternative.

“We wanted to get her back to winning form, to help her confidence,” said Lawley-Wakelin. “It was Mark’s idea to cut her back to 6 1/2 furlongs. Obviously, she’ll go farther.”

Lending encouragement to that statement was the manner in which New Normal won the Alywow she stalked a rapid pace and came with a determined late bid to catch the faltering front runners and draw off to a 1 1/4-length score.

“It looked like she was kind of trapped leaving the turn, and Patrick had to take a pretty good hold of her,” said Frostad.

Impossible Time in foal, in training

Impossible Time, Canada’s champion older female last year, is due to arrive back at Woodbine this Thursday in an altered state.

“She’s in foal, to Speightstown,” said Roger Attfield, who trains the homebred Impossible Time for Charles Fipke.

Impossible Time has remained in training since being bred, and breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 at Keeneland last Saturday.

All remaining well, Impossible Time will make her seasonal bow here in the June 18 Zadracarta , an seven-furlong overnight turf stakes for fillies and mares in which she finished second last year.

Black N Beauty unlikely for Plate

Black N Beauty, a Queen’s Plate nominee who is based in Kentucky with trainer Dale Romans, has not breezed since finishing a distant fourth here in the seven-furlong Queenston Stakes on May 7.

“He’s probably not going to come back for the Queen’s Plate,” said Romans, in between fending off calls regarding Shackleford and Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. “He’s pretty much out of consideration.”

Black N Beauty had closed well to finish second when making his local debut in the six-furlong Woodstock here April 16 but failed to duplicate that effort in the Queenston.

“I think he ran a little bit flat,” said Romans. “He seems to be in the habit of running in and out, every other race.”