TORONTO, June 29 – Bangkok was completing an unusual double when winning under allowance terms in a 1 3/8-mile turf race here June 9. On Sunday, Bangkok will be looking to extend his streak in the Grade 3 $125,000 Singspiel, which is a 1 ½ mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and upward.
Bangkok, who is trained by Phil Gracey, had won the 1 ¾ mile Valedictory on the Tapeta surface on the closing day of the 2016 meet.
“He’s been good, and he seems to be getting better with age,” said Gracey. “He really likes this long-distance racing. That’s the key, whether it’s turf or synthetic. He’s so good on both of them. It seems like he’ll just run forever.”
Gracey seems to be unimpressed by the fact that Bangkok was making his first start in seven months after essentially having the winter off at the nearby Woodlands Farm of Gail Wood, who bred and races the gelding in partnership with her sister, Dr. Ruth Barbour.
“He’s just one of those kind of horses that’ll do it,” said Gracey. “He did it last year, too. He ran at a mile and an eighth and won his first start.
“But that was easier company. That was a pretty good race the other day.”
Emma-Jayne Wilson has ridden Bangkok in his last 14 starts, which include four victories, and will be back aboard for the Singspiel.
Bangkok’s most formidable rival would appear to be Reporting Star, who will be returning to Woodbine looking for his first win in 10 starts when he ships in from Kentucky for conditioner Brendan Walsh.
His last successful outing came in April 16 when he captured Gulfstream’s Grade 3 Appleton at one mile on the turf after being purchased privately from Chad Joe’s Copper Thoroughbred Company.
“He’s been running great this year, so far,” said Brendan Walsh, who trains Reporting Star for Merriebelle Stable LLC.
Reporting Star has been keeping good turf company with his efforts including a third-place finish, beaten just a neck, in Gulfstream’s Grade 2 MacDiarmida at 1 3/8 miles and second last time out in the Grade 3, 1 ½ mile Louisville at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
“I think he’s a horse that likes particular tracks,” said Walsh. “It seems like his form at Woodbine before we got him was very good.”
Racing for trainer Pat Parente here in 2014, Reporting Star discovered a liking for turf routes, finishing second in the Grade 2 Sky Classic at 1 ¼ miles and third in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer at 1 ½ miles. Reporting Star also made a rare big-race double appearance that year when fifth in both the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International five weeks later. Locally-based David Moran will ride Reporting Star for the first time and the 7-year-old gelding is the 120-pound co-topweight along with Bangkok and Bullards Alley.
“I had a look at the race, and looks like he should be in with a large shot,” said Walsh. “Hopefully, he’ll like it again going up there.”
Bullards Alley actually will be shortening up for the Singspiel after finishing sixth, beaten 3/2 lengths, in the Grade 3, two-mile Belmont Gold Cup.
Two starts back, the 5-year-old gelding ran third, 2 ½ lengths behind Reporting Star, in the Louisville Handicap. Bullards Alley had recorded his first turf stakes win in the 2016 running of the Louisvile after capturing the off-the-turf Woodchopper over one mile at Fair Grounds as a 3-year-old.
Bullards Alley will be looking to end a 12-race losing streak with Javier Castellano picking up the mount from trainer Tim Glyshaw.
Curlins Pride, who was beaten a head in a first-level allowance over 1 3/8 miles of turf at Churchill Downs last time out, has dangerous connections in trainer Connor Murphy and jockey Julien Leparoux.
Murphy has engineered three Grade 2 upsets here with Dimension, the latest coming on last year’s Queen’s Plate card with Dimension and Leparoux needs no introduction.
Pumpkin Rumble, coming off a third-place finish behind Bangkok in that recent turf allowance route, will make his local stakes debut here for trainer Kevin Attard.
Seven were entered in the Singspiel but Aldous Snow and Ethical Funds have been cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Dominion Day at 1 ¼ miles on the Tapeta surface. Aldous Snow won of back-to-back Singspiels beginning in 2015 and Ethical Funds was the runner-up behind Bangkok last time.