Win the War returns to Woodbine looking to conquer Ruling Angel

Win the War, undefeated in three starts at Woodbine, returns to her preferred environs for Sunday’s $100,000 Ruling Angel Stakes.

The Ruling Angel, a 6 1/2-furlong overnight stakes for three-year-old fillies, attracted a field of eight.

Win the War, owned by Gary Barber and John Oxley, was undefeated at two, winning first crack out over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf then the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes on the Tapeta track at Woodbine.

After beginning her sophomore campaign with a third-place finish in Santa Anita’s Grade 2 Santa Ynez at seven furlongs, Win the War returned to Woodbine for a workmanlike 1 1/4-length score over seven furlongs of Tapeta in the Duchess Stakes.

Casse then shipped the daughter of War Front to Saratoga for the Grade 2 Prioress, a 6 1/2-furlong race in which she finished a distant last of eight under jockey Manny Franco. The trainer blamed Saratoga’s dirt surface, which some horses simply do not seem to handle, for Win A War’s dull effort.

“She can run on the dirt,” said Casse. “When she ran in California she was fairly close to the lead and didn’t eat a lot of dirt. Saratoga’s dirt is a different deal. In the Prioress, they out-sprinted her early and Manny said she acted like a two-year-old that had never run.”

Casse hopes the return to Woodbine and the Tapeta surface will be a panacea.

“We’re just bringing her back there trying to get her back on track,” he said. “Ultimately, I’m going to run her on the turf; I think she’ll probably end up being a good turf horse.

“But, I just thought this was a nice spot for her, to come back.” 

The Ruling Angel won’t be a walk in the park, however, with sharp locally-based Glamanation and the talented shipper Jean Elizabeth among her rivals.

Glamanation registered her first career win here last year in the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well Stakes and went on to finish second in last fall’s six-furlong Ontario Debutante and this spring’s seven-furlong Fury for owner/trainer Mike Doyle.

The Point of Entry filly was purchased privately this summer by Ro Parra’s Millennium Farms and joined the stable of Norm McKnight, who sent out Glamanation to finish a faltering last of five in the Wonder Where Stakes over 1 1/4 miles of turf.

“That was an experiment,” said McKnight. “We didn’t know whether she really wanted to go that far and really, if she’d like the grass that much. But it was a timing thing, they had recently acquired her, and it was a short field. We thought we’d give it a shot, knowing it could be the wrong thing to do. We went ahead and ran her anyway, and obviously it was the wrong thing to do.”

There were no ill effects, however, as Glamanation cut back to six furlongs on the Tapeta for her next start and was a three-length winner of a first-level allowance field including older rivals.

“She kind of impressed me, she really did,” said McKnight. “At the end of the day, I think she looks competitive in this field. I expect her to run well; I wouldn’t be shocked if she won.”

Jean Elizabeth is a winner of six of nine starts, with four of those successes coming over Arlington’s Polytrack surface, and is coming off a close third-place finish in the Dogwood over seven furlongs of slop at Churchill Downs.

Also invading for the Ruling Angel are Devine Mischief, Alexandra Kay and Bint Huwaar.

Devine Mischief finished eighth in the Dogwood but had won earlier at Churchill Downs as well as Charles Town and the Fair Grounds.

Alexandra Kay and Bint Huwaar come in off sharp efforts at Presque Isle Downs.

Rounding out the Ruling Angel field will be Miss Savvy, who is three-for-six this year, and Ravinia, coming off a smart maiden win. Both will be making their stakes debuts.

The Ruling Angel Stakes will be the sixth race on Sunday’s 11-race program, which is set to begin at 1 p.m.

 Here is a look at the complete field in post position order:

$100,000 Ruling Angel Stakes 
1/Glamanation/Rafael Hernandez/Norm McKnight
2/Devine Mischief/Luis Contreras/Joe Sharp
3/Miss Savvy/Chris Husbands/Bob Tiller
4/Jean Elizabeth/Jose Valdivia Jr./Larry Rivelli
5/Win the War/Patrick Husbands/Mark Casse
6/Ravinia/Skye Chernetz/Justin Nixon
7/Bint Huwaar/David Moran/Brendan Walsh
8/Alexandra Kay/Emma-Jayne Wilson/Kevin Rice













Win the War and jockey Patrick Husbands winning the Duchess Stakes on August 11 at Woodbine Racetrack, Michael Burns Photo

Turf Endurance leader Artistico aims to wrap up series a winner

Artistico already has nailed down the honours in this year’s Turf Endurance Series at Woodbine, with victories in two of the first three legs giving him 20 points and an insurmountable lead.

That means that Artistico’s owners, 4U Thoroughbred Racing Stable Inc., will be collecting a $25,000 bonus and trainer Sylvain Pion will receive $15,000.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that the five-year-old Niigon gelding will be resting on his laurels when he goes postward against eight rivals with a purse of $50,000 up for grabs in the 2 1/4 mile series finale here Sunday.

“It’s a little far for my liking,” said Pion. “Two and a quarter miles, from a mile and five-eighths—that’s a big jump.

“But, I don’t think that it will be an issue. He’s got great stamina.”

Artistico had kicked off the series, which is open to three-year-olds and upward who have started for $25,000 or less in 2017-2018 or are entered to be claimed for $45,000, with a come-from-behind win at 1 3/8 miles on July 1. 

After contesting a pair of allowance races with mixed results, Artistico returned to the Turf Endurance game and led throughout the 1 5/8-mile third leg on September 9.

Royal Intrigue, the runner-up that day after winning the 1 1/2-mile second leg on August 5 in Artistico’s absence, is not in Sunday’s lineup.

That leaves Camp Creek and Sine Metu, the 3-4 finishers in the third leg, as the likeliest candidates to spoil Artistico’s victory lap.

Camp Creek, a five-year-old Dunkirk gelding, won the Breeders’ Stakes over 1 1/2 miles of turf as a three-year-old but is 0-for-8 in with several layoffs in the interim.

The Turf Series race here was the first for Camp Creek since March 24 and his first for trainer Kevin Attard.

“He ran a pretty good race last time, off a layoff,” said Attard, who had watched Cam Creek finish 2 1/4 lengths shy of the winner.

“I think he should move forward off that race. He worked well in the interim, so he should be coming up to a good race.”

While acknowledging that Sunday’s 2 1/4-mile distance is a unknown, Attard believes Camp Creek has the right profile.

“He’s a horse that just kind of plods along,” said Attard. “Obviously, it’s a challenging distance but I do think it’s within his realm.”

Sine Metu gets full marks for attendance as he finished fourth in each of the opening three legs of the series, ending 3 3/4 lengths back in the latest.

Owned by Glenn Thomas and trained by Julie Belhumeur, the seven-year-old Rebellion gelding already had confirmed his Iron Horse credentials when contesting the entirety of the series last year, finishing second in each of the middle legs and third in the final.

“The horse is doing great,” said Belhumeur. “He’s in great shape; he’s ready for this race. I know it’s not going to be an easy race but he’s ready to compete.”

Belhumeur, wanting to leave nothing to chance in that regard, sent out Sine Metu to finish fourth in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming/starter allowance race on the Tapeta here September 26.

“He hasn’t been putting out so much, breezing in the mornings, so we gave him a race to keep him fitter and keep him happier,” said Belhumeur.

Here is a complete look at the lineup for the $50,000 Turf Endurance Series final, scheduled as the ninth of 11 races on Sunday’s 1 p.m. program.

$50,000 Turf Endurance Series Final
1/Seeking the Bay/Emma-Jayne Wilson/Ron Potts
2/Twentytwentycrest/Omar Moreno/Saul McHugh
3/Leopard Cat/Kazushi Kimura/Kevin Attard
4/Strongbox/Luis Contreras/Matt Frazier
5/Camp Creek/Rafael Hernandez/Kevin Attard
6/Sine Metu/Simon Husbands/Julie Belhumeur
7/J M R Silent Sam/Isabelle Wenc/Ken Albu
8/Artistico/Jesse Campbell/Sylvain Pion
9/Itstartswithadrink/Daisuke Fukumoto/Anthony Pottinger