Promising Juveniles Fill Woodbine Turf Stakes

Big weekend of grass stakes in Toronto kicks off with the Natalma and Summer.

Promising 2-year-olds on the turf take the spotlight at Woodbine Sept. 19 when Canada's  important weekend of racing starts off with the Summer Stakes and Natalma Stakes (both Can-IIIT).

Both races, the first of five graded grass events culminating in the Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) Sept. 20, are contested at one mile and are part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. The $150,000 Natalma drew a field of nine juvenile fillies, with Irish invader Elusive Galaxy likely to be the focus of attention. The $300,000 Summer attracted a wide open group of 10 colts and geldings, all seeking their first stakes win.

The Natalma, which gives the winner an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Nov. 6 at Santa Anita Park, is carded as the fifth race on the program. It will be headed by Elusive Galaxy, who makes her first North American start for owners Three Chimneys Racing and Triple B Farms and trainer Gerard Lyons. Top Southern California jockey Rafael Bejarano has been tabbed to ride, and this Irish-bred daughter of Elusive City has the look of a potential BC Juvenile Fillies Turf runner.

Elusive Galaxy is coming off a third-place finish in Leopardstown's seven-furlong Debutante Stakes (Ire-II) Aug. 6, a race Lyons felt the bay filly needed badly. She finished just two lengths behind a pair of Aidan O'Brien trainees, Lillie Langtry and Devoted to You. Prior to that, she ran second in a listed stakes June 26 at the Curragh, beaten by the well-regarded Long Lashes by 2 1/2 lengths.

In her only other start, Elusive Galaxy won her maiden debut by a head at Leopardstown June 18.

Show Me the Ring, trained by William Tharrenos for Natural Eight Stable, is the only Natalma entrant to have beaten winners. The Ontario-bred daughter of Where's the Ring is coming off a neck win in an allowance race at one mile on the Woodbine turf at odds of 21-1. She handily defeated a group of maiden claimers on Woodbine's Polytrack prior to that.

Mingun Miss, third to Show Me the Ring in the Aug. 28 turf allowance by 2 1/2 lengths in a game effort, returns here as well.

Biofuel and Redverse, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Ontario Debutante Aug. 15 on the Polytrack, have stakes experience. The others in the field — Bay to Bay, Ernfold, Jungle Tale, and supplemental entry Gitchee Goomie — are coming off maiden wins.

Patsy Symons' Gitchee Goomie, from the Linda Rice barn, won a 1 1/16-mile maiden turf event in her debut at Saratoga Sept. 4. The New York-bred daughter of City Zip will have Julien Leparoux aboard.

Stakes neophytes dominate the Summer, the eighth race on the card and one that offers to the winner a slot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Nov. 7. Stormy Lord, who upset a Woodbine allowance field Aug. 28 for Hat Trick Stable and Kinghaven Farms, is the only horse in the field to have beaten winners. The Stormy Atlantic  gelding is one of only two in the field to have faced stakes company, splitting the field in the Vandal on Polytrack prior to his allowance win.

Mobil Unit is the other horse with prior stakes experience, finishing sixth in the Clarendon on Polytrack July 4. The gelding by Mobil  returned to post a 3 3/4-length triumph in his turf debut over a maiden field Aug. 3 at six furlongs for trainer Michael Keogh.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Becky's Kitten, a homebred son of Kitten's Joy  out of the Cozzene mare Caterette, posted a neck victory in a 1 1/16-mile maiden allowance on the Saratoga grass Aug. 27. The win came in the Wesley Ward trainee's turf debut after three defeats on dirt.

Another impressive turf winner at Saratoga was Melnyk Racing Stables' Bridgetown. The son of Speightstown , trained by Ken McPeek, romped by more than five in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden heat Aug. 14.

Trainer Daniel Vella entered Korvette Kid, who tallied by 1 3/4 lengths in his racing debut Aug. 15 at six furlongs on Woodbine's lawn. Vella also entered the maiden Benestar, who has a second and a third in two starts, both over Woodbine's grass course.

Mark Casse is represented by Ruhtro, another Woodbine maiden turf winner who ran second to Stormy Lord in his last start. Also in the field is Yesnabay, making his North American bow for trainer Larry Rivelli following a seven-length maiden win at England's Ayr.

Personal Signal and Fantastico Roberto are supplemented to the race. The latter, an Irish-bred, is trained by Todd Pletcher for Team Valor International.

$150,000 Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT, Race 5, 2:59 p.m.), 2-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Gitchee Goomie (NY), J R Leparoux, L Rice
2. Biofuel (KY), R Da Silva, R Baker
3. Ernfold (ON), J McAleney, R Baker
4. Jungle Tale (FL), L Contreras, S M Asmussen
5. Show Me the Ring (ON), R A Dos Ramos, W Tharrenos
6. Elusive Galaxy (IRE), R Bejarano, G M Lyons
7. Mingun Miss (KY), M Moore, N Gonzalez
8. Redverse (KY), J C Jones, J Carroll
9. Bay to Bay (FL), D Clark, B A Lynch
Each carries 119 pounds.

$300,000 Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT, Race 8, 4:36 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Ruhtro (ON), C Fraser, M E Casse
2. Korvette Kid (KY), J McAleney, D J Vella
3. Personal Signal (KY), T Kabel, M O'Sullivan
4. Mobil Unit (ON), T Pizarro, M Keogh
5. Benestar (KY), P Husbands, D J Vella
6. Yesnabay (KY), A Smith, L Rivelli
7. Stormy Lord (ON), J Stein, I Black
8. Fantastico Roberto (IRE), C P DeCarlo, T A Pletcher
9. Becky's Kitten (KY), J R Leparoux, W A Ward
10. Bridgetown (FL), R C Landry, K G McPeek
Each carries 122 pounds.