April 23, 2024

Gretzky the Great, Ready to Repeat meet again in Summer; Alda faces six in Natalma

Gretzky the Great winning the Aug. 23 Soar Free S. at Woodbine (c) Michael Burns Photo

A pair of preps for Breeders’ Cup 2-year-old turf races, the $250,000 Summer (G1) and $250,000 Natalma (G1), highlight Woodbine’s 11-race program on Sunday.

Gretzky the Great and Ready to Repeat, first and third in the Aug. 23 Soar Free S. at Woodbine, highlight a field of seven in the Summer, a “Win & You’re In” for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Keeneland. Decorated Invader, a multiple Grade 2 winner this season, captured the one-mile turf affair last year, and past winners include 2010 Juvenile Turf winner Pluck and 2006 champion 2-year-old filly Dreaming of Anna.

Alda, who shipped in to post a nose score in the Aug. 23 Catch a Glimpse S., returns to Woodbine for Graham Motion in the Natalma. Her six rivals include Saratoga debut winner Seasons, and the one-mile turf event will award an expenses-paid berth to the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Catch a Glimpse, the 2015 Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine, and 2006 Canadian Horse of the Year Arravale are among previous winners, and Stephanie’s Kitten finished third in the 2011 Natalma before capturing the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Gretzky the Great broke his maiden the second time out by a 4 1/4-length margin before switching back to turf in the Soar Free, surging to win by a neck after tracking the pace from the start. From the first crop of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, the bay colt is trained by Mark Casse for Gary Barber and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Kazushi Kimura retains the mount.

Ready to Repeat easily broke his maiden when trying turf in his second start and followed with a 2 1/2-length score in the Aug. 2 Victoria S. on Tapeta. Favored at even-money in the Soar Free, the Gail Cox-trained son of More Than Ready did not break cleanly from his rail post and switched to rating tactics for the first time, rallying late to miss by 1 1/2 lengths. The bay gelding adds Lasix, and Ready to Repeat will probably be forward from the start with regular rider Luis Contreras.

American Monarch will jump to stakes company for his second start following a nice maiden win at Saratoga, closing from just off the pace win by a half-length at 1 1/16 miles. A Mike Rutherford homebred son of American Pharoah, the Bill Mott-conditioned colt picks up leading rider Justin Stein. Secret Portion, who finished second to American Monarch after setting the pace as the favorite, also merits respect. Chad Brown trains the $475,000 son of Into Mischief, and Secret Portion adds Lasix and jockey Rafael Hernandez.

Alda, a half-sister to French Group 2 victor Alignement, romped by a 2 1/2-length margin when making her second start at Belmont Park. The chestnut daughter of Munnings shows a 5-furlong bullet work at her Fair Hill base in the 28-day interim since the Catch a Glimpse, and the late-running filly will have Steven Bahen back aboard.

Dreaming of Drew, second as the 4-5 favorite in the Catch a Glimpse, will also return for the Natalma. From the first crop of Speightster, the chestnut filly broke her maiden by a widening six lengths in her second outing on Tapeta before trying turf last time. Stein takes over for trainer Barbara Minshall.

Seasons, a chestnut daughter of Tapit for LNJ Foxwoods and Phillips Racing Partner, got up late to win at first asking by a neck as the 4-5 favorite. Trained by Jimmy Toner, the well-bred lass is out of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Winter Memories, who was also trained by Toner, and Seasons gets new pilot Contreras. Lady Speightspeare is another dangerous last-out debut winner, leading wire-to-wire for a 3 3/4-length decision over Woodbine’s turf on Aug. 22. Roger Attfield trains the Charles Fipke homebred daughter of Speightstown, and the chestnut is out of Grade 2 vixen Lady Shakespeare, a sibling to Grade 1 winners Perfect Shirl and Shakespeare. Lady Speightspeare shows a 5-furlong bullet work in preparation, and Emma-Jayne Wilson guides the expected front-runner.