Wigmore Hall to Defend Northern Dancer Title

Wigmore Hall to Defend Northern Dancer Title
Photo: Michael Burns
Wigmore Hall won the Northern Dancer in 2011.

Defending victor Wigmore Hall and recent grade II winner Forte Dei Marmi are the 123-pound co-highweights in a talented eight-horse field for the $500,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes Presented by Vtech (Can-IT) at Woodbine Sept. 16, one of multiple graded events on the Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) undercard.

Race eight of 11 on Woodbine Mile Day, the Northern Dancer has also drawn the 3-year-old filly Irish Mission, winner of the June 3 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser and runner-up to Strait of Dover in the Queen's Plate against males June 24. The Northern Dancer is contested over 1 1/2 miles of lawn with an approximate post time of 4:37 p.m. EDT. It will be covered by TVG and MSG+. 

Wigmore Hall, a 5-year-old son of High Chaparral, has been quite the jetsetter since making his North American debut with a runner-up finish in the 2010 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park for owner Mark Hawtin. But his 2012 season has not shown the same talent of last year, when he took the Northern Dancer after scoring in a group II in Dubai and running third in the 2011 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I). He has not won since the 2011 Northern Dancer, and comes off a seventh in the Aug. 18 Arlington Million (gr. IT) for trainer Michael Bell.  
 
Forte Dei Marmi, trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, was victorious by three-quarters of a length last time out in the Sky Classic Stakes (Can-IIT) going 1 1/4 miles over the Woodbine lawn Aug. 19. The 6-year-old son of Selkirk, bred in Great Britain, made his North American debut for owner Stella Perdomo in last year's Woodbine Mile but finished a disappointing 10th.
 
Since then, Forte Dei Marmi has developed a 2-1-1 record from five starts in North America in 2012, including a third in the May 19 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) going 1 1/8 miles on the lawn at Pimlico Race Course. His only finish off the board came one start before the Sky Classic, when he finished sixth in the Colonial Turf Cup Stakes June 16.
 
Attfield also has Musketier, a 10-year-old German-bred son of Acatenango, in the Northern Dancer. The multiple graded stakes winner made a ferocious late run over a good turf course at Arlington Park in the July 14 Stars and Stripes Handicap (gr. IIIT) last out, but could not get up in time to catch longshot Ioya Bigtime, who upset by 1 1/2 lengths at 41-1.
 
This year Musketier won the June 24 Singspiel Stakes (Can-IIIT) at Woodbine before shipping to Arlington. He has a 1-1-1 record from four starts this season, with a fourth in the Elkhorn (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in April  his only finish outside the top three. He started his season with a third in the Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT) in February over the Gulfstream Park lawn.
 
Irish Mission, trained by Mark Frostad, won the Aug. 5 Breeders' Stakes over Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds by half a length in her most recent start. The chestnut daughter of Giant's Causeway   gets a significant break in the weights, carrying 10 pounds less than her closest competitor with 109. Her only off-the-board finish since breaking her maiden at Keeneland April 26 came two starts back in the Prince of Wales Stakes, when she ran sixth as the beaten favorite.
 
Al Khali, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott's 6-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro  , ran second in the Aug. 18 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) and third in the July 7 United Nations (gr. IT) for Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable.
 
Gestut Ittlingen's 5-year-old German group I winner Scalo was third in the Sky Classic in his North American debut for trainer Andreas Woehler. Allowance winners Ojibway Signal and Celtic Conviction complete the field.
 
$500,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes Presented by Vtech (Can-IT, Race 8, 4:37 p.m. EDT), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Celtic Conviction (ON), J.M. Campbell, 119, M J Doyle
2. Ojibway Signal (ON), L. Contreras, 119, D R Bell
3. Al Khali (KY), G.K. Gomez, 119, W I Mott
4. Scalo (GB), U. Rispoli, 121, A Woehler
5. Forte Dei Marmi (GB), A.O. Solis, 123, R L Attfield
6. Musketier (GER), J.R. Velazquez, 121, R L Attfield
7. Wigmore Hall (IRE), J.P. Spencer, 123, M L Bell
8. Irish Mission (ON), J. Stein, 109, M R Frostad
 

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