Silverton Hill’s homebred Havelock returns to Woodbine Race Course for the first time since a 2011 upset in the Play the King Stakes (gr. IIT), heading a field of seven entered in the $250,000 King Edward (Can-IIT) going a mile on the turf June 24.
Since taking the Play the King at odds of 18-1 last August, the 5-year-old gelded son of Great Notion registered victories for trainer Darren Miller in the Woodford Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in October 2011 and in the May 19 Hanshin Cup (gr. IIIT) at Arlington Park last time out. Between those wins were a fourth-place finish in the Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland and a third-place finish in a March handicap going five furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs.
The 2012 season has started much better than the 2011 one ended for Havelock, who carries 121 pounds under jockey Rajiv Maragh. He finished last of 14 in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT) after he was checked and forced out at the three-eighths pole in the five furlong event.
Hollinger, runner-up in the Feb. 11 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) behind Get Stormy and also second in the Jan. 14 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIIT) earlier this year, stretches back out to the mile distance after just missing in a 6 ½-furlong event at Woodbine May 12.
The 5-year-old Black Minnaloushe gelding improved with that effort for owners Robert Harvey and A. Wortzman after finishing fifth behind Data Link , Turallure, Doubles Partner, and Get Stormy in the April 14 Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland. Back in his 2-year-old season, trainer Roger Attfield sent the runner through a four-race win streak at Woodbine that ended with victory in the 2009 Coronation Futurity on the all-weather track.
A trio of contenders wheel out of the May 27 Connaught Cup Stakes (gr. IIT) at Woodbine: Kendel D. Standlee’s runner-up Big Band Sound, fourth-place finisher Riding the River (owned by Dominion Bloodstock, HGHR, & Linmac Farm), and Stormy Lord, who was 11th and last of all.
Big Band Sound, a 5-year-old son of Bernstein, has been second to Essence Hit Man in two other stakes races on the all-weather track at Woodbine. He started his season with an allowance win going five furlongs on the turf Jan. 13 at Tampa Bay Downs but failed to menace in a fifth-place finish in the Turf Dash Stakes at the same track and distance Feb. 18. Given a mild freshening by trainer Dan Vella, he came back to miss the six-furlong Jacques Cartier Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths April 7 and the Vigil Stakes (gr. III) going seven furlongs by three-quarters.
Riding the River, a 5-year-old gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry, was making his second start of 2012 in the Connaught for trainer David Cotey. The runner’s best career finish thus far was second behind Havelock in the 2011 Play the King. All 16 of his career starts have come at Woodbine, with six victories in claiming or allowance company.
It was also a second start of the season for Stormy Lord, a 5-year-old by Stormy Atlantic owned by Hat Trick Stable and Kinghaven Farms. Trainer Ian Black sent the chestnut runner to a sixth-place finish in an April 7 allowance going 1 1/8 miles on the turf at Keeneland. His best career finish was a victory in the 2011 edition of the Connaught by three lengths over three other runners; that year he also took the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes in July, the PTHA President’s Cup Stakes at Parx in September, and the Labeeb Stakes back at Woodbine in October. But other forays into graded stakes company last year resulted in disappointing finishes, including a 10th in the 2011 Highlander Stakes (gr. IIT) and 11th in the Play the King.
Stone Farm’s Trend, a 5-year-old son of Sligo Bay , comes off a troubled eighth in the May 19 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico Race Course for trainer Mark Frostad. A maiden winner at Woodbine in September 2011 after nine tries beginning in 2009, Trend stepped into stakes company this year after taking a Jan. 19 allowance going a mile on the turf at Gulfstream. He finished second behind Doubles Partner at the same distance in the March 3 Canadian Turf (gr. IIIT) and was second in the one-mile Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 31 as well before the Dixie.
Completing the field is Melnyk Racing Stable’s Hothersal, a lightly-raced 4-year-old son of Smart Strike whose latest effort was a third for trainer Mark Casse in the May 26 Eclipse Stakes (gr. III). The Eclipse was his first foray into stakes company; he had never finished out of the exacta in four previous starts, with his maiden score coming at Gulfstream in February 2011 and a second win earned in allowance company April 29.
$250,000 King Edward Stakes (CAN-IIT, Race 7, 3:21 p.m.) 3YOs & Up, one mile
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Stormy Lord (ON), J. Stein, 119, I Black
2. Riding the River (KY), T. Kabel, 117, D Cotey
3. Havelock (MD), R. Maragh, 121, D Miller
4. Big Band Sound (KY), T. Pizarro, 117, D J Vella
5. Hollinger (ON), L. Contreras, 117, R L Attfield
6. Trend (KY), J. Leparoux, 117, M R Frostad
7. Hothersal (ON), P. Husbands, 117, M E Casse