Canadian Champ Sealy Hill Heads Nassau

Canadian Champ Sealy Hill Heads Nassau
Photo: Michael Burns
Woobine Oaks winner Sealy Hill returns to Woodbine for the Nassau Stakes.
Sealy Hill, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, makes her return to Woodbine, the Toronto track where she made her reputation, for the $300,000 Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) on May 31.

Bred and owned by Eugene Melnyk and trained by Mark Casse, Sealy Hill also took the 2007 Sovereign Award as Canada's leading 3-year-old filly and top turf female. She faces 10 foes, including 2006 Horse of the Year Arravale, in the Nassau, a 1 1/16-mile turf event. Sealy Hill, carrying high weight of 124 pounds, is the 5-2 morning line choice.

Patrick Husbands, who has been aboard the 4-year-old daughter of Point Given   in all of her 12 career starts, rides her once again in the Nassau. They'll break from the rail.

"She's in good order and she's ready to run,"  said Husbands of the first filly to sweep the "Triple Tiara" series by winning the Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, the Bison City Stakes, and the Wonder Where Stakes.

Making her first start since a second-place finish in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) nearly six months earlier, Sealy Hill started her 2008 campaign facing a formidable field in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland on April 12. A half-length off the lead in the stretch, the dark bay wound up 10th, 5 3/4 lengths back at the wire.

"She just got tired," Husbands said. "But she's been training well. She's a very talented filly. She's a champion and she's a hero."

Sealy Hill should appreciate the return to Woodbine, where she is 5-2-1 in 8 starts with just over $1 million in earnings.

The Ontario-bred launched her career in September of 2006 but really took off last year when she won four of eights starts with three seconds. Overall, she owns a 6-3-1 record with earnings of $1,135,622.

The Nassau is Sealy Hill's fifth consecutive start on the turf, with one victory. That came in the Wonder Where Stakes to cap her Triple Tiara crown.

Also in the field is Arravale, Canada's 2006 Horse of the Year, who is winless in six starts since her championship season. She finished in the money just once in that span.

Arravale also ran in the Jenny Wiley, stalking the leaders before tiring late to finish ninth for trainer MacDonald Benson. Arravale, a 5-year-old Arch mare owned by Robert J. Costigan, has five lifetime wins in 14 starts and leads the field in earnings with $1,212,549. She gets nine pounds from the favorite and is 4-1 on the morning line.

Nottawasaga, 6-1 on the early line for trainer Eric Coatrieux and Chiefswood Stable, kicked off her 2008 season with a fourth-place finish against allowance foes on Keeneland's turf course April 13. The 5-year-old Deputy Minister mare ran third in the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs in November.

The only runner coming into the Nassau off a victory is the Irish-bred 4-year-old Callwood Dancer, winner of a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on Woodbine's Polytrack surface May 9 for trainer Roger Attfield. 

Trainer Steve Asmussen is represented by The Niagara Queen, who finished third to Callwood Dancer last time in her 2008 debut. Owned by Elite Racing Company, the 5-year-old Langfuhr   mare was a stakes winner on the Woodbine lawn last year and finished fourth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in the E.P. Taylor. James McAleney retains the mount. 

$300,000 Nassau Stakes (Can-II, Race 6, 3:35 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Sealy Hill (ON), Patrick Husbands, 124, 5/2
2. Arden Belle (ON), Matt Moore, 119, 20/1
3. Autobahn Girl (KY), Chantal Sutherland, 115, 15/1
4. Yousaidido (KY), Slade Callaghan, 115, 15/1
5. Callwood Dancer (IRE), Eurico Rosa Da Silva, 8/1
6. Quiet Jungle (ON), 115, 8/1
7. Arravale (KY), Jose Valdivia Jr., 115, 4/1
8. Sans Souci Island (ON), Emma-Jayne Wilson, 119, 12/1
9. Nottawasaga (KY), Tyler Pizarro, 115, 6/1
10. The Niagara Queen (ON), James McAleney, 117, 12/1
11. Tell It as It Is (KY), Emile Ramsammy, 115, 15/1

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