The Sir Barton is scheduled as race 8 on Sunday's 10-race card, with an approximate post time of 4:24 p.m. EST.
Fifty Proof, a sizable 6-year-old son of Whiskey Wisdom trained by Ian Black for owners Kinghaven Farms, John Fielding and Ben Hutzel, was named Canada's champion older male in 2011. He returns in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Sire Stakes over the all weather track where he sports a 3-1-0 record in five starts. Overall, he has won six of 14 starts with five seconds and has earnings of $695,848.
"He had a soft tissue injury," explained Black, who took the chestnut to Payson Park in Florida over the off season. "He started back training in Payson over the winter and then he had another stoppage with a hairline fracture in his cannon bone."
Black has patiently conditioned Fifty Proof for his return with a lengthy work tab that includes a bullet five-panel effort of 1:00 1/5 in company Nov. 24.
"It was a good work," Black said. "We set him off at least seven or eight lengths behind another horse. He was still five or six lengths off turning for home and they finished together."
Fifty Proof was the only horse of 64 workers to be clocked in under 1:01 at the distance on the day.
"On that particular morning, there was a headwind and it was very slow comparatively," said Black. "He's trained well and he's in good order. It's a long time off and hopefully he'll be fit enough."
Fifty Proof will be reunited with jockey Justin Stein in his return engagement.
Black has plenty of confidence in Stein, who guided Fifty Proof to victory in last year's Eclipse Stakes (Can-III) and expects his rider will let the race dictate the terms from post 3.
"He's drawn fairly inside and I think we just let him jump out, and if he settles and sits off somebody, great," offered Black.
Providing steep opposition in the 12-horse Sir Barton field is the classy William Gierkink mare Moonlit Beauty.
The 6-year-old chestnut, who boasts added-money scores in the Victoriana and Classy 'N Smart Stakes this year, will carry a field-high 123 pounds — six more than Fifty Proof.
Fifty Proof, who thrilled local fans with a strong front-running effort in the grade I Canadian International in 2010 when fifth, defeated less than two lengths, will have a difficult obstacle to overcome racing off a 16-month layoff.
Black, however, is just happy to have the gentle giant back in action.
"For morale, for everybody in the barn, it's great," Black said.
$125,000 Sir Barton Stakes (Race 8, approximate post 4:24 p.m. EST), 3YO & Up, Ontario-breds, 1 1/16 miles (all weather track)
PP., Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Crown's Path, G. Olguin, 117, G De Gannes
2. Bobcaygeon, P. Husbands, 117, J Carey
3. Fifty Proof, J. Stein, 117, I Black
4. Moonlit Beauty, E.R. da Silva, 123, J LeBlanc, Jr.
5. Urban Forester, E. Wilson, 117, R Sadler
6. Sir Travis, S. Bahen, 115, D Vella
7. Kurogane, J. Campbell, 117, P Attard
8. Head Honcho, L. Contreras, 117, C Day Phillips
9. Courtville, O. Moreno, 115, L Silvera
10. Flip for the Coin, T. Kabel, 117, V Armata
11. Mey's Rocket, T. Pizarro, 115, J Nixon
12. Sky of Grey, S. Callaghan, 117, M Drexler