While trainer Josie Carroll will be at Del Mar on Saturday with Breeders’ Cup hopeful Ami’s Mesa, a pair of her stablemates will be looking to hold down the fort back home at Woodbine in the $125,000 Maple Leaf Stakes (Grade 3).
The Carroll-trained fillies Gamble’s Ghost and Involuntary headline a field of eight distaffers competing in Saturday afternoon’s Maple Leaf Stakes, which will be run over 1-1/4 miles on the Woodbine main.
Gamble’s Ghost is coming off back-to-back wins in the Belle Mahone Stakes and the Maple Leaf Prep in which she defeated Ice Festival and Stella Rose.
“She’s doing really well,” reported Carroll from California. “She ran a great race last time, finished up strongly, and certainly she’ll like the distance.”
Bred in Ontario by Ivan Dalos’ Tall Oaks Farm, the four-year-old Ghostzapper-Gambling Girl filly has won six of her 14 career starts with earnings topping the $500,000 mark. Among her conquests, she has won Grade 3 stakes each year at two (Mazarine) and three (Selene), and will be looking to continue that trend on Saturday.
“She’s just a hard-trying, very competitive horse,” noted Carroll.
With regular rider Luis Contreras stateside with Ami’s Mesa, Woodbine’s top jock Eurico Rosa Da Silva will pick up the mount.
Involuntary will be moving off the turf where she has competed for all 11 of her career starts while earning four wins, four other top three finishes and banking almost $200,000 for owner Stronach Stables.
“We thought we would like to try her on the synthetic,” said Carroll. “She trains very well on it, she breezes very well on it so it certainly seemed like a step to take.”
Gary Boulanger will retain the mount on the four-year-old City Zip-Invariable filly, who won the Flaming Page Stakes two starts ago.
“She’s a filly with a lot of speed,” said Carroll. “She’s really progressed and learned how to relax and use that speed late.”
Carroll has previously won the Maple Leaf with Ballroom Deputy in 2005 and Serenading in 2009. Between Del Mar and Woodbine, she will be looking to add to her eight stakes wins this year on Saturday.
Estimated post time for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (Grade 1) is 4:14 p.m. ET while Woodbine’s $125,000 Maple Leaf Stakes is scheduled at the eighth race on Saturday’s program, with an approximate post time of 4:53 p.m. Woodbine’s card also features the $100,000 Labeeb Stakes as race six.
Trainer Sid Attard will be looking to repeat in both stakes on Saturday with defending Maple Leaf champion Ice Festival, who was a runner-up to Gamble’s Ghost last time out and Ami’s Mesa in the Ontario Matron this summer for Stronach Stables, and two-time Labeeb winner Glenville Gardens, owned by his wife Janice.
Trainer Roger Attfield will send out a powerful pair in the Labeeb consisting of Tower of Texas and Shakhimat. Tower of Texas was this year’s Connaught Cup (Grade 2) winner and is the richest in the field of six with almost $750,000 in career earnings for owners Thomas F. Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth. Owned by Dan Gale and Richard Hogan, Shakhimat enters the one-mile turf test off a track record performance over 1-1/16 miles, timed in 1:38.34, on September 23 in rein to Da Silva.
Last out Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes winner Field of Courage from the Mark Casse stable is also among the Labeeb contenders along with multiple graded stakes winner Dimension for Conor Murphy and the Norm McKnight-trained Money Talker.
The complete fields for Saturday’s stakes at Woodbine are listed below.
$125,000 Maple Leaf Stakes (Grade 3)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1. Ice Festival – Rafael Hernandez – Sid Attard
2. Gamble’s Ghost – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Josie Carroll
3. Stella Rose – David Moran – Kevin Attard*
4. Happyness – Jesse Campbell – Graham Motion
5. Giovanna Blues – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Michael Dickinson
6. Involuntary – Gary Boulanger – Josie Carroll
7. Sweater Weather – Christopher Husbands – Robert Tiller*
8. Midnight Crossing – Alan Garcia – Roger Attfield*
*Cross-entered in Friday’s River Memories Stakes
$100,000 Labeeb Stakes
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1. Tower of Texas – Jesse Campbell – Roger Attfield
2. Shakhimat – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Roger Attfield
3. Money Talker – Alan Garcia – Norm McKnight
4. Field of Courage – Rafael Hernandez – Mark Casse
5. Glenville Gardens – Gary Boulanger – Sid Attard
6. Dimension – David Moran – Conor Murphy