11/03/2009 12:00AM

Woodbine turf racing falls a bit short

Michael Burns
Rahy's Attorney wins the Bunty Lawless for his third turf stakes victory of the meet.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine's turf racing season finished last weekend on a good note, with five of the last six races going as scheduled despite less-than-ideal conditions.

Those races brought the total number run over the E.P. Taylor course this year to 180, which falls short of the ideal envisioned by turf course superintendent Sean Gault.

"Normally, our target is around 200 races, and our overall total this year is lower than average," said Gault. "Actually, in September, when we had a three-week stretch of dry weather, it looked like we were going to hit the average. But then we ran into a rainy period, which knocked the stuffing out of everything."

The scheduled turf season here spans 25 weeks, beginning in late May and concluding at the beginning of November.

"In previous years we'd take a break in August," said Gault. "But this year we'd lost some races early, so we tried to keep it going."

Rahy's Attorney the standout

A total of 44 stakes were scheduled for the turf but two overnight stakes, the With Approval and Avowal, were moved to the main track.

Rahy's Attorney, an Ontario-sired 5-year-old gelding, was the only horse to win three stakes on turf at the meet. He captured the Grade 2 King Edward, the Grade 2 Nijinsky, and the restricted Bunty Lawless.

The only other three-time winners on the turf here this year were Jungle Wave, a 5-year-old gelding whose successes included the Grade 2 Play the King at seven furlongs; Lady Shakespeare, a 3-year-old filly who became a stakes winner in the one-mile Ontario Colleen; and Sheraton Park, a 4-year-old filly who won her maiden and cleared her first two allowance conditions..

A total of 19 horses won two races on the turf here this year.

No ignoring Champs Elysees

While Rahy's Attorney's solid season should earn him a nod as a Sovereign Award finalist, he will have serious competition in his attempt to repeat in the turf male category,

A formidable opponent will be Champs Elysees, who won the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International while making his third start of the season in Canada to meet the minimum required for Sovereign Award consideration.

Champs Elysees also was placed third in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer following the disqualification of first-place finisher Marsh Side, and finished second in the Grade 2 Sky Classic while earning $1,309,683 at the meeting.

With the Sovereign Awards having been moved to Jan. 29 from their traditional mid-December date, voters now will be able to consider performances over the entire North American racing season for eligible candidates.

Rahy's Attorney could enhance his credentials in the Grade 3, $100,000 River City Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27.

Other leading contenders for the Sovereign Award in the male turf category are Sterwins, who defeated Rahy's Attorney in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup, and Marchfield, who won the Grade 2 Sky Classic and was headed for the Canadian International before sustaining a pastern injury during a morning gallop.

Some winners left on the outside

A number of major turf stakes winners did not meet the three-start requirement.

Just as Well won the Grade 2 Northern Dancer upon the disqualification of Marsh Side, and ran sixth in the Canadian International in his only other Canadian appearance.

Marsh Side was placed fourth in the Northern Dancer. His only other start in Canada was a fourth in the Canadian International.

Ventura defeated males in her only start here, the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.

Lahalaeeb made her only local appearance winning the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, with her victims including Princess Haya, who was making her second local start after winning the Grade 2 Canadian.

Rutherienne won the Grade 2 Nassau, the first filly and mare turf stakes of the meeting, but did not return.

All of this leaves the Sovereign Award for female turf horse up for grabs.

Points of Grace, who won the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on turf here in July, added the River Memories to her portfolio last Saturday to become just the second filly or mare to win two turf stakes at the meeting.

Double Malt, an Ontario-sired 3-year-old filly, won the restricted Passing Mood and La Prevoyante.

A pair of Sovereign Award-eligible females with solid turf credentials could enhance their chances through the remainder of the season.

Much Obliged, a close third in the Grade 2 Canadian won an allowance race on the grass here and is entered in the $60,000 Blushing K.D. over 1 1/16 miles on turf at the Fair Grounds this Friday.

Lady Shakespeare, undefeated in three turf races at the meeting, including the Ontario Colleen over fellow 3-year-old fillies, is scheduled to continue her campaign in the Grade 2, $175,000 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs on Nov. 14.

Champion going on the block

Callwood Dancer, last year's Sovereign Award-winning turf female, is scheduled to sell next Tuesday at Keeneland's November breeding stock sale. Trained by Roger Attfield, Callwood Dancer had been entered in the sale last year but was withdrawn after Three Chimneys LLC purchased an interest from her original owner, Harlequin Ranches.

Callwood Dancer failed to find the range in four starts this year at age 5, although she performed respectably enough when she ran second in the Nassau and fourth in the Dance Smartly.

The July 11 Dance Smartly turned out to be her last start, however, as Attfield was unhappy with her condition and recommended her retirement.

Callwood Dancer, bred in Ireland, won the Nassau and two top-level turf allowance races during her championship campaign. She also ran second in the Canadian, E.P. Taylor, and Calder's Grade 3 My Charmer.

Through her 24-start career Callwood Dancer won six races, finished in the money a total of 16 times, and banked $784,942.