09/13/2013 12:36PM

Woodbine: Winning Cause brings solid Polytrack form into Ontario Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Winning Cause (left) has not been worse than second in five starts on Polytrack, including a win in the Lexington at Keeneland.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Winning Cause has run into some buzzsaws in his two tries on the local Polytrack, finishing second behind Up With the Birds in the 1 1/16-mile Marine and ending the runner-up to Five Iron in the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park.

On Sunday at Woodbine, Winning Cause will be back in from New York for the Grade 3, $150,000 Ontario Derby and looms the one to beat in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Winning Cause, trained by Todd Pletcher, made his last two starts over one mile of turf at Saratoga, winning the Sir Cat and then running third in the Dance of Life.

“Todd was pleased with Winning Cause’s last race on the synthetic,” said Adrienne Hall, an assistant to Pletcher. “He thought it was a good effort against a very nice horse.”

Five Iron has gone on to win the 1 1/8-mileToronto Cup here and the Grade 3 Saranac over the same distance on Saratoga’s turf course.

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Winning Cause, a Kentucky-bred, was undefeated in three previous Polytrack starts at Keeneland, including this spring’s Grade 3 Lexington at 1 1/16 miles.

John Velazquez has the mount.

Pyrite Mountain, trained by Mark Frostad, is the only other Polytrack stakes winner in the Ontario Derby lineup, having captured the 1 1/16-mile Wando in his local seasonal bow May 5.

But after finishing an encouraging fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial, Pyrite Mountain ended a distant seventh in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate before bouncing back to finish third in the Breeders’ Stakes over 1 1/2 miles of turf.

“We sent him to the farm for a couple of weeks, freshened him up, changed his attitude,” said Frostad, who trains Pyrite Mountain for the Awesome Again Racing Limited Partners. “He’s been tearing down the barn since he got back. He’s training great.”

Gary Boulanger retains the mount.

Sky Commander has a turf stakes win on his r é sum é , having finished second in the Charlie Barley here over one mile but being promoted to first via a disqualification.

Trained by Mark Casse, Sky Commander won twice on the main track here this spring and has been working well since finishing fifth in the Toronto Cup.

Justin Stein again will be in the irons.

His Race to Win, trained by Malcolm Pierce, has been overshadowed by his Sam-Son Farm stablemate Up With the Birds but has a chance to shine in the Ontario Derby.

Beaten a nose as the runner-up in the Plate Trial, His Race to Win was an uncharacteristic sixth in the Queen’s Plate but was a solid winner over some older rivals in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles here Aug. 10.

Eurico Rosa Da Silva retains the mount.

Coastal Breeze ships in from Illinois for trainer Wayne Catalano off a second-place finish in Canterbury Park’s Mystic Lake Derby over one mile of turf.

B E Boston Strong, purchased privately following a romping win at Suffolk Downs, makes his local debut for trainer Nick Gonzalez and owners Carlo and Lou Tucci.