Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes comes our way from Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario this Saturday, July 19. Horses three years old and upward will be featured as they chase the winner's share of the $200,000 purse over 1 1/8 miles on Woodbine's turf track.
A field of seven have been confirmed for the Nijinsky - race 8 on Woodbine's Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:30 PM. Let's take a peek into the past performances of all seven combatants for this Grade 2 stakes.
Up With the Birds - last year's Canadian Horse of the Year has 11 career starts with six wins, two seconds and a third place finish - impressive indeed but he is coming off his worst two career performances by far - a pair of sixth place finishes - in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes last time out at Pimlico May 17 and in an Allowance at Keeneland April 5. Up With the Birds ended 2013 with a nice win in the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown - the minor Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine August 18 after a second in the Queen's Plate July 7 and an impressive 4 3/4 length win over Winning Cause in the minor Marine Stakes May 26. He also won the Coronation Futurity, one of Canada's richest races in November, 2012 and he posted victory in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap to add to his impressive résumé. Up With the Birds returns home and will have Eurico Rosa Da Silva guiding him from the outside post as the 123 pound highweight and 2-1 favorite.
Za Approval - raced in stakes company for the first time in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes last February 23 and finished fourth but followed that with a very nice win in the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream March 30 and another Grade 3 score - the Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth May 18. He then raced to a second in the Woodbine Mile September 15 behind Wise Dan after a second in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile behind Obviously at Hollywood Park June 29 and recorded his best career result October 12 - a win in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park. Za Approval went on to a second in the Breeders' Cup Mile behind Wise Dan again and has been just OK since - a third last time out in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park in May followed a fourth in the Grade 1 Maker's Mile in April and a fourth in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita March 8. He had four wins and three seconds in eight starts in 2013 for trainer Christophe Clement but has placed in one of three starts this year. He hopes to rediscover his 2013 form and looks for his first 2014 win with Joe Bravo in the reins from gate 4 at 5-2 odds.
Five Iron - Impressive Brian Lynch trained colt won two straight stakes races at Woodbine last summer - the Victoria Park Stakes and the Toronto Cup Stakes before a terrific, career defining win in the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes September 1 at Saratoga. He has just four starts since - a good third in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby in October, an awful ninth in the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream March 29 after five months away, a terrific win in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont Park May 3 and a somewhat disappointing fifth last time out in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes on that same track June 7. He has won four of his last eight starts and will be looking to bounce back from his worst effort in over a year Saturday. Luis Contreras is tabbed to ride Five Iron the 3-1 third choice from post 5.
River Seven - multiple stakes winning Ontario bred gelding entered the Donn Handicap on an impressive three race win streak - the minor Harlan's Holiday Stakes over the terrific Csaba at Gulfstream in record setting form December 22, the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs November 16 and the minor Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine in October but finished a disappointing tenth in the Donn in February. He hasn't been much better since - a fourth last time out in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes here June 22 followed a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup on this track May 31. Before his win streak a string of good seconds including the Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine in June and the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie in July. River Seven has hit the board in 10 of 16 career starts but hasn't placed in his last three starts overall. Jesse Campbell will guide River Seven from the rail at 6-1 odds.
Really Sharp - Ian Black pupil is coming off a good second in the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes on this track June 1 after a terrific win here in the Grade 3 Vigil Stakes at 28-1 odds May 11 and a third place finish in the minor Jacques Cartier Stakes behind Dan the Tin Man and Victory Exchange April 13. He also had a third in the Grade 2 Nashua River Stakes in November 2012. Really Sharp has two wins, two seconds and three third place finishes in 12 career starts and has placed in five of six starts this year. He looks good ahead of this weekend, will be looking for his first win on grass and will have Steven Ronald Bahen in the irons from post 3 at 8-1 odds.
Dynamic Sky - Mark Casse trained colt looked very good early in his career - highlighted by a second in the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October, 2012. He went on to a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a win in the minor Pasco Stakes and a good second in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes in February 2013. He has been up and down since. Last time out was a decent third in the Grade 3 Singspiel here July 6 after an Allowance score on this track, a fifth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Keeneland April 10, a good third in the Queen's Plate here in July and a nice win in the minor Plate Trial Stakes also on this track last June. He has been in there with some of the best but will be looking for his first graded stakes score Sunday. Patrick Husbands rides from gate 2 at 10-1.
Dorsett - Brian Lynch trained colt makes his 2014 debut Saturday. He was last seen running sixth in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes in November after a fourth in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby in October and a sixth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in September. Before that was a career best result - a win in the minor Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park in August. He has 12 career starts with three wins, a second and a third place finish and will look to place in graded stakes company for the first time. David Moran gets the call from post 6 at 15-1.
Race 8 on Woodbine Racetrack's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:30 PM.
||Up With the Birds
||E. Da Silva