Top Combo Behind Shoal Water in Connaught

(from Woodbine report)
Owner Sam-Son Farm, trainer Mark Frostad and jockey Todd Kabel team up once again Sunday to try for a third straight win in the $164,400 Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine with Shoal Water.

The combination produced Connaught Cup winners in 2002 with Quiet Resolve and last year with Fly Smartly.

The first turf stake of the year at the Toronto oval, contested at 1 1/16 mile on the E.P. Taylor Course, drew seven horses.

Probable favorite Shoal Water, a gelded 4-year-old son of Smart Strike, enters the Connaught off a winning effort in his prep May 15. He took the one-mile test by 1 1/2 lengths over Prince Alphie and Le Cinquieme Essai, two rivals he'll once again hook in Sunday's contest. That was his second start of the year.

In his seasonal debut, he once again battled his nemesis, 2003 Canadian Horse of the Year Wando, in an allowance turf tilt over 1 1/16 mile at Keeneland April 18. Shoal Water finished fifth in that event, almost three lengths behind Gus Schickedanz's Triple Crown winner, after setting the early pace.

"He handled the prep very nicely. It was a good race," said Frostad. "He wasn't dead fit for the his opener but he came back and ran a lot better in the prep. We're going to find out this year, I guess (what his best distance is). He'll go far. We'll see how good he is this year."

Shoal Water enjoyed a solid season last year, skimming to victory twice in seven outings, including an impressive score in the Saranac Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga Sept. 1. He also made every dance on the Canadian Triple Crown trail, finishing fourth in the Queen's Plate, third in the Prince of Wales and second in the Breeders' Stakes, just a length and one-half back of Wando in the final leg.

The gelding banked over $325,000 last year and now boasts career earnings of $465,540.

If Shoal Water doesn't win it, Sam-Son and Frostad have another color-bearer that could keep their Connaught streak alive. Puffer, who will be handled by Slade Callaghan, is an ultra-consistent gelded 5-year-old son of Sam-Son's former champion Sky Classic. He has picked up checks in all 13 lifetime starts, including three wins, for earnings of $222,074.

Veteran Slew Valley has been shipped to Woodbine from the United States and will now be trained by Reade Baker. The 7-year-old, who should command some respect at the windows, has been in good form in four starts this year. He won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in March, finished second in the Mac Diarmida Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the same track in January and was third in the Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct April 24 in his latest.

$164,400 Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-III) 4 &up, 1 1/16 mile on turf
1/Tusayan/Laurie Silvera/Emile Ramsammy
2/Shoal Water/Mark Frostad/Todd Kabel
3/Prince Alphie/Josie Carroll/Patrick Husbands
4/Le Cinquieme Essai/Paul Nielsen/Steven Bahen
5/Mr. Sulu/Josie Carroll/Robert Landry
6/Slew Valley/Reade Baker//Jim McAleney
7/Puffer/Mark Frostad/Slade Callaghan