06/17/2013 2:07PM

Woodbine: Ultimate Destiny proving a wise purchase for Fehr

Michael Burns
Ultimate Destiny (No. 6) beat Good Better Best by a head in the Steady Growth Stakes on Saturday at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Alec Fehr was looking to add to his stable last fall when he learned that Ultimate Destiny was up for sale.

Ultimate Destiny, trained at the time by Mike Keogh, had competed in all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, with his best effort a second-place finish in Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales Stakes.

“Looking at a Form , he was consistent on pretty much every surface and at a variety of distances,” said Fehr. “I thought I’d take a chance, and it’s really worked out well.”

Ultimate Destiny started once for Fehr here last fall, finishing second in a restricted second-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles. Following a winter on the farm in Ontario, Ultimate Destiny ran his 2013 record to 3 for 3 with a head victory here in last Saturday’s $125,800 Steady Growth Stakes under Eurico Rosa da Silva.

Ultimate Destiny has now banked $161,980 since joining Fehr, who is the horse’s sole owner.

“He had a pretty tough campaign last year,” said Fehr. “He was thin, and he looked over the top. He was bad in the gate in his first start for me. He might have been getting a bit sour on the whole thing.”

Fehr has seen a marked difference in Ultimate Destiny this year.

“He’s bulked up a bit over the winter,” Fehr said. “He not a horse that carries a lot of weight anyway, even now, but he did grow a bit and he did widen a bit. From a 3-year-old to a 4-year-old, he’s become a stronger horse, and that’s what’s making him a better horse.”

Ultimate Destiny began his 2013 campaign by knocking out his final restricted allowance condition at 6 1/2 furlongs and then doubled up in an open first-level allowance at seven furlongs. The Steady Growth, for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up, was at 1 1/16 miles, and Fehr admitted to some concern over the stretch-out.

“At the beginning of the year, these horses are always sharper, and you’re training them at a shorter distance and working them shorter,” Fehr said. “They’re inclined to have more speed at the time. When he won that 6 1/2, I was just hoping that he was quick enough and he could get there if they got away on him.

“When he ran like that, I didn’t have any concerns about the seven furlongs. But after that race, going to a mile and a sixteenth, basically my job then was trying to relax him, calm down his mind, and he did that. He was a little more relaxed, a little more composed. I was happy with that.”

The 46-year-old Fehr has been affiliated with some large outfits, training for owners such as Bruno Schickedanz and Knob Hill Stable, but he makes do with a seven-horse stable these days.

Prior to the Steady Growth, his last stakes winner at Woodbine had been Colorful Judgement, whom he claimed for $60,000 and immediately sent out to win the With Approval Stakes in 2006.

Meanwhile, the next Ontario-sired stakes for Ultimate Destiny would be the Aug. 5 Shepperton, which covers 6 1/2 furlongs and is worth $125,000.

“I’ve got to get together with Eurico’s agent and put together a plan,” Fehr said. “I want Eurico to stay on him.”

Good weekend for Casse

Trainer Mark Casse is in Ocala, Fla., for this week’s sale there, but he had plenty to cheer about last weekend, both at Churchill Downs and at Woodbine, where Northern Passion won the $125,400 Zadracarta Stakes over seven furlongs on turf.

Northern Passion, who had run well in two graded stakes here after a layoff of almost 11 months, was facing fellow Ontario-foaled fillies and mares in the Zadracarta and was up in the nick of time under Luis Contreras to win by a neck.

“She ran good,” said Casse, adding that he had not yet given any thought as to where Northern Passion might resurface. “I thought for a minute she wasn’t going to get ther. I think she’s equally as good on synthetic or turf. It’s just nice to have her come back.”

On Saturday evening, Casse watched Funny Proposition play giantess-killer by knocking off champion Royal Delta in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs. One race later, Uncaptured appeared to be headed for victory in the Grade 3 Matt Winn but wound up second, beaten a head by Code West in that 1 1/16-mile race.

“He jumped on to his left lead for about five or six strides, and I think it cost him the race,” Casse said.

Uncaptured, who won two stakes at Churchill Downs last fall, was taken off the Queen’s Plate trail this spring when Casse determined that the colt had distance limitations on Polytrack. Having now confirmed his affinity for dirt, Uncaptured will aim for the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, the 1 3/16-mile race that is the second leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds and will be run July 30 at Fort Erie.

Pool Play, an 8-year-old horse, won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in 2011 and was looking for lightning to strike twice there Saturday, when he contested that 1 1/8-mile stakes for Cass. But he never was in the hunt, finishing fifth in the field of six.

“He had no chance – the track was so speed-favoring,” Casse said. “We’ve got to get farther with him. He’ll maybe run in the Singspiel.”

The Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000, will be run here on Queen’s Plate Day, July 7.

Fatal Bullet targets Highlander

Fatal Bullet, also 8, made a successful 2013 debut here Saturday in the six-furlong turf prep for the Highlander Stakes.

Owned by Danny Dion’s Bear Stable and trained by Reade Baker, Fatal Bullet was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2008, but last season made four of his seven starts for claiming prices ranging from $60,000 to $80,000.

“He spent the winter in Ontario at Curraghmore Farm,” Baker said. “It’s the first time he hasn’t been away for the winter. He’s been ready for a couple of months. There just hasn’t been a place to enter him.”

All remaining well, Fatal Bullet will return in the Highlander, a six-furlong turf stakes that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $200,000 on July 7.

Contreras scores with Five Iron

Trainer Robbie Martin, subbing for the suspended Brian Lynch, sent out Five Iron for a front-running victory in Sunday’s $153,300 Victoria Park Stakes.

Contreras was aboard Five Iron, who became a stakes winner in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park. The win gave Contreras a meet-leading seventh stakes victory.

Da Silva, second with six stakes wins, recorded his 1,000th victory in North America with Bear’s Molly in Sunday’s ninth race.