Irish Mission Returns to Woodbine in Nassau
The 4-year-old fillies are part of a well-matched field of seven entered for the one-mile test for fillies and mares. The eighth race on the Saturday card, the Nassau is scheduled for a 4:25 p.m. EDT post.
Irish Mission, trained by Mark Frostad for owner Robert S. Evans, went on to finish second in the Queen's Plate and win the Breeders' Stakes last year, both against males. She received 2012 Sovereign Awards as Canada's champion female turf horse and top 3-year-old filly.
The Giant's Causeway filly has had two starts this season on turf at Gulfstream Park, most recently weakening to finish third, after leading in the stretch, in the Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 12 furlongs March 30.
After a brief freshening, the Ontario-bred chestnut will be brought back at a much shorter distance over a course where she won the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the 12-furlong Breeders' last August.
Alex Solis, who rode Irish Mission in both of her Woodbine wins last year, was tabbed by Frostad once more. They will break from post 5 with top weight of 118 pounds, two more than each of her opponents. She has a record of 3-3-1 from 14 starts and a bankroll of $873,244.
Frostad and Evans have a second starter in the Nassau in Transgression, a 5-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song making her stakes debut.
John Oxley's Northern Passion has started just once for trainer Mark Casse since her runner-up try in last year's Woodbine Oaks, in which she finished three-quarters of a length behind Irish Mission. The daughter of First Samurai ran fourth in the Whimsical Stakes (Can-III) on Woodbine's Polytrack in a tune-up April 28.
Winner of the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT) on the Woodbine turf as a 2-year-old in September 2011, Northern Passion is to be ridden from the far outside post by Luis Contreras.
Sam-Son Farms, which bred Irish Mission, has a homebred of their own in the Nassau, Part the Seas. The 4-year-old daughter of Stormy Atlantic had a couple of tough beats in stakes company last year at Woodbine. She's apparently in good form after taking a six-furlong allowance/optional claiming race on Woodbine's Polytrack April 20 in her first start since last November.
The speed in the field figures to come from Ramona Bass' dangerous homebred Dancing to Town, making her first appearance at Woodbine. She invades for trainer Michael Matz off a front-running five-length win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming race on Polytrack April 14 at Keeneland. This will be the graded stakes debut for the 5-year-old Speightstown mare, to be ridden by Justin Stein.
Solid Appeal, a 2 1/2-length allowance winner on the Keeneland turf April 24, returns to Woodbine for trainer Reade Baker and owners Jim and Susan Hill. The 4-year-old Successful Appeal filly won twice on the Woodbine lawn last year.
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