Up With the Birds won the Breeders' Stakes on the Woodbine turf last August.

Up With the Birds won the Breeders' Stakes on the Woodbine turf last August.

Michael Burns

Up With the Birds Back Home for Nijinsky

Defending Canadian Horse of the Year looks to rebound from a pair of subpar efforts.

After two subpar efforts to begin the season, Canadian Horse of the Year Up With the Birds returns to his home track at Woodbine with a chance to make amends in the $200,000 Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT) on the turf July 19.

Trained by Malcolm Pierce, Sam-Son Farm's Ontario homebred won his only prior start over the course when taking the Breeders' Stakes, the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown last August. A win in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) in October, in tandem with his earlier runner-up finish in the Queen's Plate on Polytrack, helped earned the son of Stormy Atlantic  the Sovereign Award as Canada's top horse and champion 3-year-old male.

Things have not as smoothly so far in 2014 for Up With the Birds. He could manage only a mild closing kick to finish sixth after a slow start as the favorite in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT), his most recent start May 17 on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico Race Course May 17. The bay colt began the year also running sixth in a high-priced allowance on the Keeneland turf April 5.

Since the Dixie, Up With the Birds has been working solidly over the Woodbine turf training track. His most recent drill, a five-furlong breeze July 11, was timed in 1:00 3/5, fastest of 17 at the distance on the morning.

Eurico Rosa Da Silva, who was last aboard Up With the Birds in the Breeders', is reunited here. They break from the far outside post in the field of seven older horses for the 1 1/8-mile Nijinsky while shouldering top weight of 123 pounds.

The Nijinsky, race 8 on the Saturday card, is set for a 4:30 p.m. EDT post.

Trainer Brian Lynch has entered both Five iron, returning to Woodbine for the first time since winning the listed Toronto Cup one year ago, and Dorsett.

Five Iron, who carries 121 and will be ridden by Luis Contreras, has won both the Saranac (gr. IIIT) and Fort Marcy (gr. IIIT) in New York since his front-running victory in the Toronto Cup with Contreras aboard. The 4-year-old Sharp Humor colt finished fifth in the Knob Creek Manhattan Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park in his most recent start June 7. He spurted clear to a 9 1/2-length lead on Belmont's inner turf layout before weakening in the 1 1/4-mile Manhattan, and appears to have a pace advantage here.

Dorsett won last year's Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park and is making his 2014 bow for Lynch with David Moran aboard.

Za Approval, a four-time winner last year with three seconds from eight starts, makes his fourth start of 2014 without a win so far. The 6-year-old son of Ghostzapper , trained by Christophe Clement for Live Oak Plantation, ran second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan in both the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) and the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) last season.

The gray gelding comes off a third in the Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont May 26. Joe Bravo picks up the mount on Za Approval, who totes 119.

Vigil Stakes (Can-III) winner Really Sharp, second last time in the Eclipse (Can-II) June 1, seeks his first win on grass for trainer Ian Black.

River Seven, winner of the Commonwealth Turf (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland last November, and Dynamic Sky , shortening up from the 1 1/2-mile Singspiel Stakes (Can-IIIT) after finishing third July 6 over the Woodbine course, complete the lineup.

Entries: Nijinsky S. (G2T)

Woodbine, Saturday, July 19, 2014, Race 8

  • Grade IIT
  • 1 1/8m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 4:30 PM (local)
11River Seven (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateJesse M. Campbell119Nicholas Gonzalez-
22Dynamic Sky (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduatePatrick Husbands117Mark E. Casse-
33Really Sharp (KY)Steven Ronald Bahen117Ian Black-
44Za Approval (KY)Joe Bravo119Christophe Clement-
55Five Iron (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateLuis Contreras121Brian A. Lynch-
66Dorsett (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateDavid Moran117Brian A. Lynch-
77Up With the Birds (ON)Eurico Rosa Da Silva123Malcolm Pierce-