Milwaukee Appeal, coming off a second-place finish in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and two near-misses in Canadian 3-year-old classics before that, returns as the one to beat in the $250,000 Selene Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine Sept. 26.
The Selene, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the Toronto oval's Polytrack, attracted only six entrants, but it appears to be a fairly strong field. Among those challenging Milwaukee Appeal are Hooh Why, winner of Keeneland's Ashland Stakes (gr. I) in April, and Carem Crescent, who captured Woodbine's Duchess Stakes last month.
Bred and owned by Eugene George and trained by Scott Fairlie, Milwaukee Appeal seeks her first win since the Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, which she captured in dominating fashion June 7. The daughter of Milwaukee Brew wheeled back two weeks later against males to run third, beaten by just a neck, in Woodbine's Queen's Plate. She came even closer in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown when second by a nose in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie July 12.
In her most recent start in the Alabama Aug. 22, she was no match for the 11-length winner Careless Jewel, but was clearly best of the rest.
Now she aims for her sixth career win in 13 starts and can go over the $1 million mark in earnings with a victory. Her total stands at $867,371 coming into the Selene.
"At the start of the year, the thought of her earning a million dollars really didn't cross my mind," said Fairlie,. "But as the season went along, I have started to think about it. What can you say about her? She's amazing."
Milwaukee Appeal's runner-up finish in the Alabama was her eighth consecutive top-three finish. She has finished lower than third just once, a seventh-place effort in last year's Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT), her lone turf try. She has notched two wins, two seconds, and two thirds from six starts in 2009. She began the season by winning the Star Shoot Stakes on April 19.
"She's just kept on improving, mentally and physically, throughout this year," said Fairlie. "She still is. I feel good about how she's coming into the race. There are some good ones in here, but she's been training well and hopefully, she comes up with another big performance."
Milwaukee Appeal drew the rail and will be ridden by Patrick Husbands. Under the conditions of the race, she'll carry 120 pounds, three fewer than Hooh Why, Closing Speed and Saucey Evening.
Hooh Why gets back on Polytrack for trainer Kenneth Hoffman after a troubled sixth-place effort in the Ontario Colleen over Woodbine's turf course Aug. 30. The Florida-bred daughter of Cloud Hopping was boxed in while racing eighth in the one-mile grass race and finished sixth in an even effort.
Her last victory came in Woodbine's La Lorgnette Stakes on Polytrack in May, which followed her neck triumph over Gozzip Girl in the Ashland. Hooh Why finished third, a head behind Stardom Bound, in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) prior to the Ashland. Emile Ramsammy retains the mount on Hooh Why, who breaks from post 3.
Eugene Melnyk's homebred Carem Crescent also ran in the Ontario Colleen, leading in the stretch before being out-finished by Lady Shakespeare and finishing second by 1 1/4 lengths. Trained by Malcolm Pierce, the daughter of Distorted Humor won all three of her starts prior to that, each of them coming on Woodbine's Polytrack.
Carem Crescent won the Duchess Aug. 8 as the odds-on choice by nearly two lengths over Closing Speed, who will try it again for Woodford Racing and trainer Mark Casse. The Cherokee Run filly is coming off a fourth-place finish in an allowance race, though she was beaten by only one length in a fast-closing effort. Closing Speed has won three of seven starts this year but is looking for her first stakes victory.
Saucey Evening, fifth in the Ontario Colleen, is winless in four starts this year for trainer Graham Motion. The Augustin Stables' runner's last two victories have come in stakes races restricted to California-bred fillies.
$250,000 Selene Stakes (Can-III, Race 6, 3:24 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Milwaukee Appeal (ON), P Husbands, 120, S H Fairlie
2. Carem Crescent (ON), E R Da Silva, 116, M Pierce
3. Hooh Why (FL), E Ramsammy, 123, K E Hoffman
4. Closing Speed (KY), C Fraser, 123, M E Casse
5. Aurora Lights (KY), J McAleney, 116, E Coatrieux
6. Saucey Evening (CA), C Sutherland, 123, H G Motion