Poulin in O T wins the Frost King Oct. 14 at Woodbine (Michael Burns)
Poulin in O T Chases Hat Trick in Clarendon
By Chris Lomon – Woodbine Communications
TORONTO— A pair of $150,000 2-year-old stakes, the Clarendon and Shady Well, share the spotlight on Saturday’s 11-race card at Woodbine.
Each set for 6 furlongs over the Tapeta, the Shady Well (2-year-old fillies) and Clarendon (2-year-olds), both for Ontario-bred or Ontario-sired rookies, have drawn six and five starters, respectively.
Owned by Borders Racing Stable Ltd. and trained by Katerina Vassilieva, Witch Hazel will chase her first stakes score.
The daughter of Astern (AUS) arrives at the Shady Well off a fifth-place finish, albeit 1 ½ lengths behind the winner, in the Woodbine Cares Stakes on October 8.
Sent off at 9-1 in the 5-furlong Inner Turf event, Witch Hazel was carried out in the stretch but still battled gamely to the wire.
“We were kind of unlucky in the Woodbine Cares race. I felt it was going to be a little bit too short for her. We were caught wide around the turn, but with all of that against her, she only got beat by a length and a little bit. She definitely is a trier.”
Vassilieva is expecting a strong effort from her first-year filly who brings a record of 1-1-1 from five starts into Saturday’s main track co-feature.
“Unfortunately, we had to scratch out of the Glorious Song (on November 5). It was going to be a better distance (7 furlongs) for her, but she came down with a virus, so we had to bypass that race. She’s been training very well since and I’m hoping this will be our turn to shine.”
Witch Hazel debuted on June 25 in a 5-furlong Tapeta test and finished second to Collecting Flatter. One race later, on July 23, she tested the turf and was fourth to Cairo Consort, who would finish second in the Grade 1 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes and third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
After a third at 6 panels over the Tapeta on August 13, the bay broke her maiden courtesy of a gutsy neck score at 6 ½ furlongs on the same surface on September 11.
“She always tries. She’s never been beaten very far. I think, looking back, we knew straight away that she was going to be a nice filly. Mike Cook, who broke her in Ocala, spoke very highly of her. I went to see her in Florida, and I really like the way she trained. Once I got her to Woodbine and started training her – the first work was three-eighths in :34, by herself – I knew I had a special filly. She’s very intelligent and very athletic. I always liked her.”
Bred by Bernard and Karen McCormack, Witch Hazel has had a steady work tab leading up to the Shady Well, including a 4-furlong breeze in :48.20 over the Tapeta on November 19.
“She’s very professional in the mornings and afternoons. And she’s a sweetheart around the barn. Everybody loves her. She always has her head poking out and she’s always wanting to say hello to everyone. People can’t help but go to her stall and interact with her. She’s that kind of horse, very friendly and very kind.”
Poulin in O T will get his second shot at netting the natural hat trick.
The son of Reload, trained, co-owned and co-bred by Steve Owens, heads into the Clarendon off two consecutive triumphs, taking the Bull Page and Frost King to bring his record to 4-0-0 from five career starts.
Poulin in O T won his career bow in impressive fashion, a 5 ¼-length romp at 4 ½ furlongs over the Toronto oval Tapeta on June 24. One race later, the gelding was back in the winner’s circle after a 3 ¼-length triumph in the 5 ½-furlong Victoria Stakes on July 17.
After a seventh in the Soaring Free, the chestnut could make it three straight stakes victories with a win in the Clarendon.
“He’s very laid back and he’s very well put together,” said Owens, who recorded his 300th career training win when Bodacious Miss won on November 3 at Woodbine. “He has a very muscular physique. You couldn’t ask for a nicer athlete.”
The Shady Well is slated as race nine. The Clarendon is scheduled as race 10 on Saturday’s 1:20 p.m. program. Fans can watch and wager on all the action with HPIbet.com and the Dark Horse Bets app.
$150,000 SHADY WELL STAKES
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Witch Hazel – Justin Stein – Katerina Vassilieva
2 – Speed Trap – Kazushi Kimura – Josie Carroll
3 – Rifling – Luis Contreras – Stuart Simon
4 – Fashionably Fab – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard
5 – Anam Cara – David Moran – Sarah Ritchie
6 – Me and My Shadow – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Mark Casse
$150,000 CLARENDON STAKES
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Stubborn Streak (S) – Rafael Hernandez – Mike Dunslow
2 – Armstrong – Kazushi Kimura – Mark Casse
3 – Rolling Hills – MarkLee Buchanan – Roy Agostino
4 – Poulin in O T – Patrick Husbands – Steve Owens
5 – Paramount Prince – Slade Jones – Jamie Attard