The 4-year-old Bernstein colt is one of three horses entered in the Play the King by Attard, who will also saddle Smokey Fire and defending Play the King victor Jungle Wave. Attard is tied for fourth in the Woodbine trainer standings through Aug. 25.
Norseman Racing Stable's Signature Red won Woodbine's Highlander (Can-IIT) for his first stakes win in a game effort over top turf sprinter Heros Reward July 4. He will be asked to go an additional eighth of a mile in the seven-furlong Play the King. The 123-pound high weight has back-to-back wins on the turf since he was teamed with jockey Chantal Sutherland.
The Play the King is three weeks before the $1 million Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) and could serve as a useful prep for several of these competitors. The Play the King is the eighth race on the program with a 4:35 p.m. EDT probable post.
Attard switched Signature Red to the grass following a third-place showing in the quickly-run Vigil Stakes (Can-III), a seven-furlong Polytrack test won by Hollywood Hit in 1:20.07. Since then, Signature Red defeated a tough allowance field and then overtook pacesetter Heros Reward by a neck following a hard-fought stretch duel in the Highlander.
Signature Red has won twice before at seven-eighths, both times on Polytrack. The consistent bay owns a 5-1-4 career mark in 12 starts and has finished in the money in his last six races. He will break from post 6 with Sutherland, who is third in the current Woodbine jockey standings, aboard once again.
Tucci Stables' Jungle Wave, who finished a half-length farther back when third in the Highlander, has had one outing since. The 5-year-old son of Hold That Tiger ran second as the 7-5 favorite in a high-stakes allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 6. Jungle Wave has dropped seven straight races since he captured last year's Play the King as the favorite by three-quarters of a length over Field Commission. Patrick Husbands, who rode Jungle Wave in the Highlander, regains the mount from Sutherland.
Attard's third entrant is Jim Dandy Stable's Smokey Fire, who seeks to rebound after fading badly to finish last of seven in the A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 8. That was the first time Smokey Fire has raced away from Woodbine, where the 5-year-old Smoke Glacken gelding has won the Kennedy Road (Can-III) and Bold Venture stakes on Polytrack. In four tries on the Woodbine turf, Smokey Fire has a win and three seconds. Jono Jones rides for the first time.
Other leading contenders in the field are Fatal Bullet, Canada's 2008 Horse of the Year who is seeking his first win of the year, and multiple graded stakes winner Field Commission .
Bear Stables' Fatal Bullet, winless in three races in 2010, tries the turf for just the second time in his career. Reade Baker trains the 5-year-old Red Bullet gelding who finished a distant third to Smokey Fire in his most recent start in the Bold Venture July 17.
Field Commission gets back to the Woodbine turf, where he has a win and four seconds in six tries, following a third-place effort in the 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup (Can-III). Trained by Daniel Vella, Field Commission seeks to put an end to a six-race losing streak since winning the Nearctic Stakes (Can-IIT) on the grass last October. He ran fourth as the favorite in the Highlander prior to the Aug. 8 Seagram Cup. Leading Woodbine rider Eurico Rosa Da Silva retains the mount.
Grade III winner Southdale, cutting back in distance following a third-place finish in his turf debut in the 1 1/8-mile Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT) July 24, and Porter's Gate, making his stakes debut, complete the field.
$200,000 Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT, Race 8, 4:35 p.m.), 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Field Commission (ON), E Ramsammy, 121, D J Vella
2. Fatal Bullet (FL), E R Da Silva, 119, R Baker
3. Jungle Wave (KY), P Husbands, 121, S C Attard
4. Smokey Fire (ON), J C Jones, 119, S C Attard
5. Porter's Gate (KY), S Callaghan, 117, M Pierce
6. Signature Red (KY), C Sutherland, 123, S C Attard
7. Southdale (ON), J McAleney, 121, I Black