Natalma Stakes and Summer Stakes Fields Take Shape
Both the Natalma Stakes and Summer Stakes will be run at Woodbine this weekend as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.
The Ricoh Woodbine Mile, which offers the winner a fees-paid berth for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, a Grade 1, $2 million race on November 2, will not be the only race run here this weekend which is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.
On Sunday, the Natalma and Summer Stakes have the same Breeders’ Cup implications. Both the Natalma, for fillies, and the Summer are one-mile turf races with their Breeders’ Cup counterparts being the Juvenile Turf Fillies and the Juvenile Turf for colts and geldings. Those $1 million, one-mile races will be run on November 1.
The prospective field for the Natalma currently stands at eight and includes English shippers Diamond Sparkles and Walk in Marrakesh.
Diamond Sparkles, purchased privately after winning her second start, will remain in North America with trainer Mark Casse, who has won the Natalma a record seven times.
Casse also will send out Coach Lori, an impressive winner of her five-furlong debut here on the inner turf course.
Walk In Marrakesh, conditioned by Mark Johnston in England, is a three-time winner from five starts, all on the grass, the most recent coming in France.
Probable starters based south of the border are Fair Maiden, Voting Agreement and Abscond.
Fair Maiden has experience over the local turf course, having romped in the second running of the Catch a Glimpse Stakes over 6-1/2 furlongs of yielding going for trainer Eoin Harty. The Catch a Glimpse is named in honour of the Casse-conditioned Natalma victress who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and to be named Canada’s Horse of the Year, Champion Turf Female, and Champion Two-Year-OId Filly in 2015.
Voting Agreement, trained by Chad Brown in New York, and Abscond, from the Eddie Kenneally barn in Kentucky, both were debut winners at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass and are slated to be in town for the Natalma. Abscond made a second start, running second in the listed Bolton Landing Stakes over the same distance and surface at Saratoga.
Locally-based Saratoga Vision, trained by Al Patykewich, is winless in seven starts and coming off a third-place finish in the Catch a Glimpse; and Runway Dreamer, fourth over the Natalma course and distance for conditioner Josie Carroll, round out the prospective lineup.
The Summer is shaping up with nine potential starters which also includes a European invader in Vitalogy, who is based in England with trainer Joseph O’Brien, son of the renowned conditioner Aidan O’Brien. Vitalogy is one-for-two, having won at first asking at six furlongs on the turf.
The local contingent includes two solid prospects in Keep On Truckin, who will be trying turf for the first time after airing in two Tapeta starts for Catherine Day Phillips including the restricted Clarendon Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs, and Pleasecallmeback.
Conditioned by Roger Attfield, Pleasecallmeback is coming off a rallying second-place finish behind undefeated two-time stakes-winning stablemate Mr. Hustle in the Soaring Free Stakes over 6 ½ furlongs of yielding going. The currently sidelined Mr. Hustle was winning his second straight stakes there and is undefeated in three starts.
Casse has three for the Summer road in Cucina, Proven Strategies, and Old Chestnut.
Cucina finished third when making his local debut in the Soaring Free, his fourth career appearance at his fourth different racetrack. He won his maiden at five furlongs on a sloppy Belmont strip second time out.
Proven Strategies debuted with a fifth-place finish here on the Tapeta and then shipped to Saratoga, where he ended a closing second in the 5 ½ furlong Skidmore in his second start.
Old Chestnut has seen action twice, roasting his opposition on the second occasion with a front-running score over five furlongs on the inner turf course.
Casse won three consecutive Summers beginning in 2013.
Zoological, based here with conditioner Ralph Biamonte, also is slated to make his stakes debut after recording a maiden win over the Summer course and distance in his fourth career outing.
Scheduled to be here from Saratoga are Decorated Invader, who ran well in two turf starts there for conditioner Christophe Clement, and Mystic Lancelot, a debut winner for trainer Todd Pletcher with that success coming at 5 ½ furlongs on the grass.
Pletcher has won four editions of the Summer, the latest in 2011.
AN EARLY LOOK AT PROBABLE CONTENDERS FOR THE $250,000 NATALMA STAKES (8)
Horse – Trainer – Owner
Abscond – Eddie Kenneally – Apogee Bloodstock and Mike Anderson Racing LLC
Coach Lori – Mark E. Casse – Brereton C. Jones
Diamond Sparkles – Mark E. Casse – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber
Fair Maiden – Eoin G. Harty – Godolphin LLC
Runaway Dreamer – Josie Carroll – Craig B. Singer
Saratoga Vision – Alexander P. Patykewich – Alexander P. Patykewich
Voting Agreement – Chad C. Brown – Klaravich Stables Inc.
Walk In Marakesh (IRE) – Mark Johnston – Merriebelle Irish Farm Limited
AN EARLY LOOK AT PROBABLE CONTENDERS FOR THE $250,000 SUMMER STAKES (9)
Horse – Trainer – Owner
Cucina – Mark E. Casse – Donald R. Dizney LLC
Decorated Invader – Christophe Clement – West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman and William Sandbrook
Keep On Truckin – Catherine Day Phillips – George P. Ledson, Brian W. Ledson and Anderson Farms Ontario Inc.
Mystic Lancelot – Todd A. Pletcher – Phoenix Thoroughbred III
Old Chestnut – Mark E. Casse – Live Oak Plantation
Pleasecallmeback – Roger L. Attfield – William Werner
Proven Strategies – Mark E. Casse – Leonard C. Green, Aron S. Yogada and Empire Racing Club
Vitalogy (GB) – Joseph Patrick O’Brien – Fergus Galvin
Zoological – Ralph J. Biamonte – Mary E. Biamonte