05/11/2011 12:46PM

Woodbine: Turf racing pushed back to May 20


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Horsemen and horseplayers who were looking forward to the beginning of turf racing here at Woodbine this weekend will have to wait.

“I have to take the races off the turf,” said director of racing and racing secretary Steve Lym, who had planned to offer a pair of grass races on each of the Saturday and Sunday cards. “The weather just hasn’t been good enough. We’re aiming for Friday, May 20, now. We should hit it.”

The races scheduled for turf, which included the Connaught Cup prep on Saturday and the Nassau prep on Sunday, were to be offered as Polytrack races as will the two first-level allowance races originally slated for the E.P. Taylor course.

But, the 6 1/2-furlong prep for the Connaught Cup failed to attract enough entries on Wednesday morning.

Trainer Ian Black, who was looking forward to starting Stormy Lord in the $89,400 prep, was disappointed but unsurprised when the race failed to fill.

“I’ll have to go straight to the Connaught Cup with him now,” said Black, who sent out Stormy Lord to win the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup and to finish second in both the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ and one-mile Charlie Barley on the grass here last year.

The May 29 Connaught Cup, for 4-year-olds and upward at seven furlongs, offers Grade 2 status, a purse of $150,000, and is scheduled to be the first turf stakes of the meeting.

The Nassau prep, also worth $89,400, will be a seven-furlong race. The June 4 Nassau, the first scheduled turf stakes of the year for fillies and mares, is a Grade 2, one-mile event worth $300,000.

Presque Isle plan B for Fatal Bullet

Fatal Bullet was entered in the Connaught Cup prep but trainer Reade Baker had a fallback plan at Presque Isle Downs, which has an open allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs in the condition book for Wednesday night.

Entries for that card will be taken on Saturday and, while there obviously is no guarantee that race will go, Baker also plans to enter Fast Yankee in the same evening’s Tom Ridge Stakes.

Fatal Bullet won the 2008 edition of the $100,000 Tom Ridge, which is a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

Fast Yankee, bred in Kentucky by his owner, Brereton C. Jones, won 2 of 4 starts as a 2-year-old for trainer Reade Baker.

His finale was a half-length score over Oh Canada, who has returned to become a stakes winner here this spring, in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs.

“The races for him here just aren’t filling,” said Baker.

Lynch returns with 38 horses

Brian Lynch, who wintered in Florida with a stopover at Keeneland, returned to Woodbine at the beginning of the month and celebrated his first winner of the meeting after Zafrina captured a $20,000 conditioned claiming race last Sunday.

Zafrina races for the Donver Stable of Donna and Verne Dubinsky, who are among a number of owners in Lynch’s public stable.

“I also own a number of horses myself, with partners,” said Lynch, who has 38 stalls here.

Among Lynch’s runners is Bay to Bay, a Florida-bred 4-year-old filly who has won two stakes over one mile of turf, the Grade 3 Natalma in 2009 and Arlington’s American 1000 Guineas last year.

Starting twice on Gulfstream’s turf course this past winter, Bay to Bay finished a close fifth in the Grade 3 Honey Fox at one mile and then ended second to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf winner Tapitsfly in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer.

Bay to Bay, who breezed four furlongs in a bullet 47.60 seconds here last Saturday, is pointing to the Nassau.

Lynch engineered two of the biggest stakes upsets in Ontario last year, sending out Golden Moka to capture Fort Erie’s $500,000 Prince of Wales and Miami Deco to take Woodbine’s $500,000 Breeders’.

Golden Moka, who had been undefeated in three starts in Panama as a 2-year-old, was coming off a seven-month layoff and racing beyond six furlongs for the first time in the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales. The win payoff of $22.70 indicated that not all were caught totally flat-footed by the victory.

Miami Deco, however, slipped completely under the radar in the Breeders’.

Winless in five previous starts and trying turf for the first time, Miami Deco was up in time for a $132.10 win mutuel.

Neither horse has won in the interim, with Golden Moka finishing fifth in each of three starts, including a pair of graded stakes, and Miami Deco an also ran in two outings, including Keeneland’s Grade 3 Elkhorn.

Miami Deco is here with Lynch at Woodbine, but Golden Moka currently is on the farm in the Ocala, Fla., area.

“We took a chip out of his knee, after his last race, and did a surgery on him,” said Lynch., adding that there was no timetable for Golden Moka’s return.

Contreras new rider for Inglorious

Inglorious, who is scheduled to make her local seasonal bow in Sunday’s $150,000 La Lorgnette, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 here Tuesday.

“Everything went according to plan,” said trainer Josie Carroll, who had watched Inglorious work on her own and gallop out six furlongs in 1:13.60.

Luis Contreras was aboard for the breeze and will be riding Inglorious for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette, which is the final major local stakes prep for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks.

Chantal Sutherland had ridden Inglorious in her two victorious appearances here last year and in her two starts at Fair Grounds this past winter but elected to remain in California rather than come back to Woodbine this spring.

“Chantal did a great job with the filly,” said Carroll, who conditions Inglorious for the Donver Stable.

“But with her not here, it made more sense to use somebody here who could get on the filly regularly.”

The Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, will be run on June 5.

A total of 27 Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies remained eligible following the May 1 nomination stage, down from the 74 nominated at the Feb. 1 stage.