Fifty Proof, a tough-luck loser in his last two starts on the Woodbine turf course, will try to make amends in the $250,000 Sky Classic (Can-IIT) Aug. 21 in Toronto.
The 5-year-old son of Whiskey Wisdom will take on five rivals in the 1 1/4-mile Sky Classic, with his main competition coming from graded stakes winners Grassy, Musketier, and Smart Bid. Post time for the Woodbine feature is slated for 4:40 p.m. EDT.
Fifty Proof has been in good form all year, winning an optional claimer when returning from a layoff in April and then bagging the Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) in May—both on the Woodbine Polytrack. The chestnut gelding suffered a couple of tough runner-up defeats in his last two outings, missing by a half-length in the June 25 King Edward Stakes (Can-IIT) and by three-quarters of a length in the Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT)—both coming over off Woodbine turf conditions.
Fifty Proof was sent off as the odds-on favorite in the nine-furlong Nijinky and led for most of the way before being caught late by Windward Islands. The Ian Black trainee has been a consistent 6-5-0 from 14 lifetime starts and has earned nearly $700,000. Luis Contreras will have the mount on Sunday.
Fifty Proof, bred in Canada by Anderson Farms, is owned by Kinghaven Farms, J. Fielding, and B. Hutzel.
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneiider’s Grassy has also been beaten narrowly in his last two tries. The 5-year-old El Prado horse was second in the May 21 Three Coins Up Stakes at Belmont Park on yielding turf and fell to Musketier by a neck in the Singspiel (Can-IIIT) June 26 in his last start.
The Christophe Clement trainee secured his biggest victory last year in the Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct. Clement has assigned Patrick Husbands to ride.
Musketier, a 9-year-old veteran with earnings of $872,091, notched the ninth win of his 41-start career in the Singspiel. Earlier in the season he also won the Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland and has been graded stakes-placed in two other tries in 2011. Last out, the German-bred son of Acatenango was fifth in the Nijinsky.
Roger Attfield, a two-time winner of the Sky Classic, will give a leg up to Eurico Da Silva. Musketier, a five-time group/graded stakes winner, is owned by Stella Perdomo.
Augustin Stable’s homebred Smart Bid won the Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) in March at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots; the victory was sandwiched between two tough grade I defeats. The Smart Strike horse missed by a nose in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) over the winter and was beaten three parts of a length in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) in May at Churchill Downs.
Last out, the well-traveled Smart Bid was fourth in the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) at Del Mar. This will be his second trip to Canada, as he was runner-up in last year’s Autumn Stakes (Can-III) on Polytrack. Graham Motion, who won the Sky Classic in 2006 with Better Talk Now, will saddle the 5-year-old.
Completing the field is Hailstone, who was third in the Nijinsky and is the 126-pound high weight, and Kara's Orientation, a sharp allowance winner July 23 on the Woodbine turf.
$250,000 Sky Classic (Can-IIT, Race 8, 4:40 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Kara's Orientation (KY), E Ramsammy, 117, S Chircop
2. Grassy (KY), P Husbands, 121, C Clement
3. Smart Bid (PA), E S Prado, 123, H G Motion
4. Fifty Proof (ON), L Contreras, 121, I Black
5. Musketier (GER), E R Da Silva, 121, R L Attfield
6. Hailstone (KY), J M Campbell, 126, M E Casse