07/29/2011 1:14PM

Woodbine: Vandal no soft spot for Safraction


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Safraction, who finished a troubled second behind Banner Bill in the Victoria Stakes here at Woodbine on June 18, is facing Ontario-foaled company in Sunday’s $150,000 Vandal.

But while the move from an open to restricted stakes generally would be significant, the Vandal has come up with a very tough field of 10.

There are stakes winners in Making Amends – who scored impressively when making his first lifetime start here in the restricted Clarendon – and Everyday Dave, a winner of a maiden race at Keeneland and a listed race at Chantilly before going unplaced in the Grade 2 Norfolk at Ascot.

Mix in the promising local first-out winners Maritimer and Palmetto Moon, along with impressive recent Belmont graduate Behemoth, and the six-furlong Vandal promises to be an entertaining supporting feature on a card headed by the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes.

Safraction, a winner first crack out going 4 1/2 furlongs in Ontario-sired company, was beaten 5 3/4 lengths in the five-furlong Victoria by Banner Bill, who had to survive an inquiry after being involved in a three-ply skirmish around the far turn.

“My horse got cut up there, but it was very minor,” said Greg De Gannes, who trains Safraction for owner Andrew Fredericks. “He recovered well, and he’s come back to work very strongly.”

Safraction has turned in four five-furlong drills since the June 18 Victoria, with the latest a breeze in 1:00.40 under regular rider Justin Stein here Monday.

“Justin was pleased with him,” said De Gannes.

Meanwhile, Banner Bill came back to register his third win in as many starts here in the six-furlong Colin Stakes and is slated to make his next appearance in the Saratoga Special.

De Gannes, who skipped the Colin with an eye toward the Vandal, believes the longer distance also will benefit his charge.

“I think it adds to his strengths,” said De Gannes.

Making Amends, trained by Mark Casse, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 76 for his Clarendon victory, which is tops in the Vandal lineup.

“He’ll have to step up his game here, but I think he’s capable of that,” said Casse, who also believes Making Amends will appreciate the Vandal’s slightly longer distance.

“The farther, the better,” said the trainer.

Patrick Husbands returns aboard Making Amends, who is the 122-pound highweight.

Everyday Dave is trained by Wesley Ward, who won the July 17 Shady Well with Judy the Beauty in her first start back from Europe.

Jeffrey Sanchez, who has ridden Everyday Dave in each of his starts to date, has the mount.

Jenny’s So Great shortens back up

De Gannes also will be represented in Monday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Royal North Stakes with Jenny’s So Great slated to go in the six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

Jenny’s So Great, a 4-year-old filly who races for owners Bill and Vicki Poston, won the restricted Zadracarata over seven furlongs on turf in her second start of the season but then weakened late when she stretched out to 1 1/18 miles on turf for the Grade 2 Dance Smartly.

“We tested the waters,” said De Gannes. “It’s an extremely tough division, the older fillies and mares, going long.

“I’d entered her in the Royal North prep but it didn’t go, and that kind of forced our hand.

“Maybe in hindsight it wasn’t the right thing to do but she came out of it well, and had one great work since then. Six furlongs should be right up her alley.”

Pender Harbour heads Breeders’ crowd

The $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third leg of the triple crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will be run over 1 1/2 miles on turf here next Sunday, and a field of up to 15 is in the works.

Heading the expected lineup is Pender Harbour, who would be making his first start on turf for trainer Mike DePaulo.

Pender Harbour finished third here in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate and then won the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.

The only other horse expected back from the first two legs of the Canadian triple crown is Hippolytus, who finished second in the Queen’s Plate and fourth in the Prince of Wales.

Three get in works for crown jewel

Head Honcho, Seawatch, and Molinaro’s Remark all worked five furlongs here Friday morning in preparation for the Breeders’.

Both Head Honcho and Seawatch worked in company with stablemates on the training turf course, while Molinaro’s Remark went solo on the main track.

Head Honcho, who finished eighth in the Queen’s Plate for trainer Catherine Day Phillips, breezed in 1:00 under rider Quincy Welch, who has the call for the Breeders’.

“We sent him to the farm for a little break, right after the Plate,” said Day Phillips, who trains Head Honcho for Frank Annecchini and Rocco d’Alimonte.

“I think the Breeders’ is the natural thing for him. He’s by Strut the Stage, so he should like turf. And I think he’ll handle the distance – he relaxes early.”

Seawatch, supplemented to the Queen’s Plate for $25,000, breezed in 1:00.20 under jockey Slade Callaghan.

“We’ve been thinking about the Breeders’, since the Queen’s Plate,” said Josie Carroll, who trains Seawatch for Donna and Vern Dubinsky and noted that the colt would have to be supplemented to the Breeders’ at a cost of $12,500.

Molinaro’s Remark was clocked in 1:01.20 and will be making his stakes debut in the Breeders’ after finishing fourth in a restricted first-level allowance over 1 1/4 miles on turf in his last start here July 8.

“I’m happy with the way he worked, and I’ve got a fresh horse,” said Vito Armata, who trains Molinaro Remarks for Gino Molinaro.

“He ran a good race last time, but we’ll try to change things a little bit. You can’t win going wire to wire unless you’ve got by far the best horse.

“I’d like to see if we can hide him a little bit behind horses, and make a run.”

Steven Bahen retains the mount on Molinaro Remarks, who had won his maiden in Ontario-sired company over 1 1/16 miles on turf here June 15.

The others eyeing the Breeders’, in alphabetical order, are Blackstone Bay, Celtic Conviction, Control, Crown’s Path, Delawana, Kurogane, Nanaimo, Queens’platekitten, Runaway Whiz, and Stunning Stag.