Fresh from her record-setting win in Keeneland's Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III), Embur's Song returns to Woodbine for the first time since last summer in the $150,000 Hendrie Stakes (Can-III) May 14.
Four-year-old Embur's Song set a Keeneland Polytrack record of 1:41.62 for 1 1/16 miles while registering a front-running neck victory in the Doubledogdare April 22. The Todd Pletcher-trained Unbridled's Song filly will be attempting the shortest distance of her eight-race career in the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie.
The eighth race on the Woodbine program with a 4:35 p.m. EDT probable start, the Hendrie attracted a strong field of seven older fillies and mares. They include Wildcat Marie, a sharp front-running winner of last month's Whimsical Stakes (Can-III) over the track.
Owned by Fares Farm, Ontario-bred Embur's Song burned quite a bit of money in the opening two legs of last year's Canadian Triple Tiara. Following an impressive allowance tally over the Polytrack, she was sent off as the 2-5 favorite in the Woodbine Oaks last June. But the front-running filly failed to last after opening a 2 1/2-length mid-stretch advantage, and finished third.
Made the 1-10 choice against just three rivals in the Bison City Stakes a month later, she had a similar experience, failing to hold the lead and settling for second, defeated by four lengths.
Her victory in the Doubledogdare was her first in three starts in 2011 and marked a return to Polytrack for the bay filly after unsuccessful tries on dirt and turf at Gulfstream Park. Patrick Husbands has the mount on Embur's Song for the first time in the Hendrie. They break from post 2.
Wildcat Marie captured the six-furlong Whimsical by 1 1/4 lengths April 23 in her stakes debut. Four of the five older fillies and mares she defeated are back for the Hendrie, which is a half-furlong longer. In addition, Keeneland shipper Dr. Zic, helps to make this an interesting lineup.
Trained by Martin Drexler for owner James Baldesarra and partners, Wildcat Marie was making her seasonal bow in the Whimsical. The Florida-bred daughter of Wildcat Heir set a fast pace that day (:22.39, :44.53) to open a two-length advantage at mid-stretch and won in a drive under Tyler Pizarro in a good time of 1:09.11.
“I love how tough she is, how much of a fight she has in her,” praised Pizarro. “When the race heats up, she loves to fight, and that’s what you want in a horse.”
Wildcat Marie posted a bullet five-furlong work in :58 flat May 7.
Claimed for $40,000 last summer at Woodbine, Wildcat Marie has won six of her past seven starts since last June, all at six furlongs. Her only loss in that span came in a third-place finish against first-level allowance foes at 6 1/2 furlongs Sept. 18. The chestnut filly has never been worse than third in 10 career starts, all on the Woodbine main track.
Pizarro is aboard again for the Hendrie, and they will break from post 3.
Ariana D, runner-up in the Whimsical, and third-place finisher Indian Apple Is, are back for another shot.
Maple Lane Farm's Pennsylvania-bred 5-year-old Ariana D gave a game chase in the Whimsical after making a wide closing bid on the turn. The Laurie Silvera-trained daughter of Rock Slide was a two-time stakes winner last year and will be teamed once again with Omar Moreno.
Frank Di Giulio Jr.'s Ontario homebred Indian Apple Is was Canada's champion female sprinter last year. She trailed the field to mid-stretch in the Whimsical and made a belated rally to get third while finishing 4 3/4 lengths behind the winner. Trained by Robert Tiller, the 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare was slow to begin in her first start of the season last time and should appreciate a little added distance. Luis Contreras rides again.
Also returning from the Whimsical are Shukriya, who lost the show spot by a head, and fifth-place finisher Hooh Why, a grade III winner who leads the field with nearly $800,000 in earnings.
Dr. Zic, the 124-pound top weight trained by Joan Scott for Derby Lane Farm and partners, ships in from Keeneland off a third-place finish in the Madison Stakes (gr. I) April 14. In 2010, the 5-year-old daughter of Milwaukee Brew upset the Madison at 15-1 and then finished second in the Hendrie. That is her only prior race at Woodbine.
$150,000 Hendrie Stakes (Can-III, Race 8, 4:35 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Hooh Why (FL), E Wilson, 119, M Hoffman
2. Embur's Song (ON), P Husbands, 119, T A Pletcher
3. Wildcat Marie (FL), T Pizarro, 119, M Drexler
4. Shukriya (KY), E Ramsammy, 115, M Mattine
5. Indian Apple Is (ON), L Contreras, 117, R P Tiller
6. Ariana D (PA), O Moreno, 117, L Silvera
7. Dr. Zic (KY), C J Lanerie, 124, J Scott