07/02/2009 11:00PM

Woodsmoke comes off Alywow victory

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Michael Burns
Woodsmoke faces Ontario-breds Sunday after beating open company.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodsmoke made her turf debut a winning one last month in the open Alywow Stakes. She should be favored against Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies Sunday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Ontario Damsel Stakes.

Woodsmoke broke slowly before closing from midpack to win her debut in a sprint on the Polytrack on April 19. Two weeks later, she captured the seven-furlong Fury Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths by leading all the way under Tyler Pizarro.

In the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette Stakes on May 17, Woodsmoke opened up a substantial lead on the backstretch before fading badly. Trainer Mike Keogh said he wasn't surprised by that lackluster performance.

"I said publicly before the race that I didn't think that she'd get two turns," Keogh said. "She's just that rank. After she broke her maiden, she was just a totally different horse to train. Once she knew what [racing] was all about, she just wants to go."

Keogh was pleased with the way Woodsmoke breezed three-quarters in 1:13.60 around the cones on the turf training course June 24.

"She worked on her own with Tyler Pizarro," Keogh said. "She went really nice."

Mullins Beach won the opening-day feature of the Woodbine meet, the five-furlong La Voyageuse Stakes, in front-running style. She has been idle since she closed for third in the May 3 Fury.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce said Mullins Beach missed some training after her last race, but said she's in good shape heading into the 6 1/2-furlong Damsel.

"I missed about 10 days with her," Pierce said. "She worked one day, and she pulled a muscle or something. I had to go easy with her, and she's lost a little bit of fitness since the Fury. She probably missed one good work. Otherwise, she had a pretty good work on the grass last Sunday."

Mullins Beach graduated at seven furlongs on the grass here last August. She was never in contention in her only other turf attempt, Feb. 24 at Fair Grounds in the Mardi Gras Stakes.

"I think she's better on the grass," said Pierce. "She didn't break very well [in the Mardi Gras], and that was on a totally different turf course than the one here. She had some excuses that day, for sure."

Gigolette was fifth in the Alywow in a field that included the New York invader Pull Dancer, who finished a close second.