A compact field of 3-year-old fillies, including three graded stakes winners, highlight the one-mile $125,000 Ontario Colleen Stakes (G3T) at Woodbine Aug. 27.
The Michael Doyle-trained Grizzel is the 2-1 morning-line choice over seven other contenders, off of her fifth-place effort in the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T) behind New Money Honey July 8. The daughter of Kodiac (GB) won the the Selene Stakes (G3) on the all-weather track at Woodbine May 21. She owns two wins from 12 starts on the turf, but those two came during her 2-year-old season in England.
Trainer Mark Casse has two of the top threats in the field. East West Stables' Enstone, who has placed in five of her last six races in stakes company, is seeking her first graded score. She cuts back in distance from the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where Stakes on turf at Woodbine July 30, when she set the pace and finished second to 4-5 favorite Inflexibility.
The Casse-trained Victory to Victory exits an eighth-place run in the Lake George Stakes (G3T) July 21 at Saratoga Race Course. The daughter of Exchange Rate attended the pace before tiring in the 1 1/16-mile contest won by Proctor's Ledge. Proctor's Ledge returned to win the Lake Placid Stakes (G2T) Aug. 19 at Saratoga. Victory to Victory showed promise in her 2-year-old finale, when she won the Natalma Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine by 2 1/2 lengths.
In between the two Casse horses will be Mythical Mission, who has never finished off the board in seven starts for trainer Malcolm Pierce. The Sam-Son Farm homebred finished behind Enstone in her last two starts, running third in the Wonder Where Stakes and second in the Bison City Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track at Woodbine July 9. Before that she was second to Holy Helena in the June 11 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser going 1 1/8 miles on the all-weather track. Holy Helena returned to win the Queen's Plate Stakes at Woodbine.
Pierce said the Giant's Causeway filly has "been unlucky" while "chasing that filly Enstone the last couple races. ... We know (Enstone) has a lot of speed."
He is expecting a faster pace on the cutback in distance for Mythical Mission, who he said will "be a little farther out of it and (will) make one run."
The wild card in the race is the Christophe Clement-trained Yellow Agate. The Gemologist bay is trying the turf for the first time. In her last start for owners China Horse Club International, she finished fourth behind runaway winner Shimmering Again in the June 17 Alma North Stakes going seven furlongs on dirt at Laurel Park. That was her first start since November, when she incurred a particularly tough trip finishing tenth as the second-choice in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Clement said Yellow Agate has had knee surgery since but is now "sound." She started her career with two wins on the dirt at Belmont Park, including a victory in the Frizette Stakes (G1).
"There is plenty of turf in the pedigree. She has been training well on the turf and I thought this was a logical place," Clement said. Woodbine, Sunday, August 27, 2017, Race 8
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Reverse (ON) Jerome Lermyte 115 Ricky Griffith 20/1 2 2R Naja (FL) Jesse M. Campbell 117 Michael Stidham 20/1 3 3Victory to Victory (FL) Rafael Manuel Hernandez 119 Mark E. Casse 4/1 4 4Mythical Mission (ON) Emma-Jayne Wilson 115 Malcolm Pierce 6/1 5 5Enstone (ON) Patrick Husbands 119 Mark E. Casse 7/2 6 6Grizzel (IRE) David Moran 119 Michael J. Doyle 2/1 7 7Valentine Wish (KY) Alan Garcia 115 Victoria H. Oliver 10/1 8 8Super Marina (KY) Gary Boulanger 119 George Weaver 15/1 9 9Yellow Agate (KY) Luis Contreras 119 Christophe Clement 8/1
Woodbine, Sunday, August 27, 2017, Race 8