Will Real Strizzi Show in Toronto Cup?

(from Woodbine report)
For trainer Malcolm Pierce, the burning question heading into Saturday's Toronto Cup Stakes (Can-IIIT) for 3-year-olds at Woodbine is, 'Will the real Strizzi show up?'

Coming off a strong runner-up effort in last month's Charlie Barley Stakes at the Toronto oval, Pierce has plenty of reasons to sport a positive frame of mind when it comes to the improving Strizzi, a lifetime winner of two races for Stronach Stable and $93,211 in earnings.

While current form and a penchant for performing on the turf aren't issues for Strizzi, state of mind and lack of racing luck sometimes can be.

"We know he can run, but he just seems to get into some kind of trouble each time," said Pierce, of the gray gelding. "He always has an excuse, but he does have talent. We just need a little racing luck. He'll certainly hold his own."

Going hoof-to-hoof against Charlie Barley champion Moonshine Hall and Queen's Plate (Can-I) runner-up Mobil won't make things easy for Strizzi, but Pierce, who assisted with the Triple Crown campaigns of Regal Intention and Dance Smartly, has faith in the son of Lit De Justice.

"He ran very well last time, but it might have been a little short for him," said Pierce, of the one-mile Charlie Barley on June 22. "But that won't be the excuse this time. The winner (Moonshine Hall) is coming back and Mobil's in there, too. It's a small field, but it's not getting any easier."

Of his nine lifetime starts to date, Pierce points to his 2003 debut at Gulfstream in Florida on Jan. 8, a 4 1/2-length score at odds of 8-1.

"I really liked his win at Gulfstream. He was so far back and I was saying to myself, 'Geez, get going, get going, get going.' I thought he was just going to follow them around. Then he just exploded and ran by everybody. It was impressive."

Though he's shown he's more than capable of handling himself on the racetrack, Pierce admits Strizzi doesn't have the most accommodating personality.

"He's tough," said Pierce. "He's not easy to be around. We get him out early in the morning. He doesn't like to wait to train. He'll start kicking the walls. On a turf day, when he has to wait until 9:30 to train on the grass, he's a handful. But he's professional on race day. He acts like a decent horse then."

Toronto Cup Stakes (Can-IIIT), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP / Horse / Trainer / Jockey / Morning Line Odds
1 / Illusive Force / Rob Van Overschot / Jim McAleney / 12-1
2 / Mobil / Mike Keogh / Todd Kabel / 7-5
3 / Pants N Kisses / David Cotey / Constant Montpellier / 8-1
4 / Moonshine Hall / Anthony Reinstedler / Patrick Husbands / 2-1
5 / Strizzi / Malcolm Pierce / Emile Ramsammy / 4-1
6 / Tracy's Tonka Toy / Gord Colbourne / Jono Jones / 10-1