Things are about to heat up in Canada with Woodbine preparing to pop the stalls for two of its most important three-year-old preps this weekend. On Saturday, Canadian-bred fillies will go seven furlongs in the $125,000 Stella Artois Fury Stakes. It is the “aperitif” ahead of the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser, which will be run on July 24. Then, on Sunday, Canadian-bred three-year-olds throw down in the $125,000 Queenston Stakes, a seven-furlong prep for the prestigious Queen’s Plate, run at the classic distance of 10 furlongs. Its 163rd running will be held on August 21, with a purse of $1 million on the line.
As for the Fury, it has attracted a field of eight, with the #8 Aubrieta, owned and bred by Manfred and Penny Conrad, installed as the 2-1 morning-line favourite. She is one of three entered for dual-Hall of Famer Mark Casse, who also starts the fillies directly to her inside, #7 Mo Touring and #6 Into Touring for Gary Barber. Both daughters of Breeders’ Cup Mile champion Tourist come in with impressive work tabs, though neither have run since finishing off the board in the Princess Elizabeth, in which fellow Fury entrants, Moira and Souper Flashy, ran one-two. Conversely, Aubrieta comes in with a strong main track resume, having previously won Woodbine’s Glorious Song Stakes at seven furlongs, and while she crossed the line last in the G3 Mazarine, her first, and only, off-the-board performance, she came back off the layoff in fine fettle, running a game second in the Star Shoot. Folding to last that day was Parlance, who came back to score a high level optional at Churchill Downs, earning an 85 Beyer for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Patrick Husbands has the call aboard Aubrieta, who is a daughter of Speightster. Husbands rode her dam, Amethea, for Mark Casse and Conrad Farms, as well. Though she never became a stakes winner, class comes with the pedigree. Amethea is a half-sister to G1-placed State of Honor, and the family includes St Averil and Avie’s Fancy.
The morning-line second choice at 5-2 is #5 Moira, owned by X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables, and SF Racing. This daughter of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper is one of two entered for trainer Kevin Attard, who also starts #3 Souper Flashy for Terra Racing Stable. Attard won last year’s Woodbine Oaks with Munnyfor Ro, 2021’s Sovereign champion three-year-old filly, and this is undoubtedly a strong pair he will be saddling. Again, these stablemates ran one-two in the Princess Elizabeth. Moira was especially impressive, as that was her career debut, and not only did she win going two-turns at first asking, but did so crossing the wire 4 ¼ lengths the best. They then tried the G3 Mazarine, and while she put in a valiant effort under Justin Stein, Moira had to settle for second, a half-length back of Mrs. Barbara, 2021’s Sovereign champion two-year-old filly, who next ran fourth in the G3 Florida Oaks for Mark Casse.
Interestingly, Stein, who not only rode Moira for Attard, but Munnyfor Ro also, is named to ride the #2 Pioneer’s Edge for Josie Carroll, who is installed at 4-1 on the morning-line. Carroll won the 2020 edition of the Fury with Curlin’s Voyage ahead of her Woodbine Oaks triumph and she went on to secure Sovereign champion three-year-old filly honours. Unlike Pioneer’s Edge, who is in off her debut win, Curlin’s Voyage went into the Fury already having already earned the title of Sovereign champion two-year-old filly.
Still, with Stein sticking aboard and the sensational barn stats, this daughter of Pioneerof the Nile attracts attention. She won her debut with ease, and over a solid field, which produced a next-out winner in Sister Seagull, who put up a 74 Beyer figure finishing 2 ¾ lengths the better of Curlin Candy in their subsequent match-up. There are reasons to think Pioneer’s Edge can step forward from a pedigree perspective, too. The Chiefswood homebred is out of Leading Edge, a G3-placed daughter of Tapit, and her female family is pretty prolific, having produced the likes of Salsabil and Marju.
The Tom Amoss shipper, #4 Mommasgottarun, owned by Joel Politi, is listed at a generous 8-1. She is the most experienced filly in the field with eight career starts, though she only collected that first win last out at Indiana Grand. Still, one could certainly make a case for her being a live contender. Consider she tried to wire in her debut as a two-year-old at Saratoga and managed to hold second. The winner was Dream Lith, who later won the G2 Golden Rod. In start two, she tried to wire again, but couldn’t hold off the cavalry. All four horses to finish the better of her are either stakes winners or stakes placed now. Gerrymander went on to run second in the G1 Frizette, and then won the Tempted. Distinctlypossible was second in the G1 Alcibiades. A Mo Reay got the show dough in the aforementioned Frizette, and Rosebug got the same placing in the Cicada Stakes. In Mommasgottarun’s next start, which was at Churchill Downs, the top two who beat her were both next out winners. Sweet Dani Girl put up an 86 Beyer figure winning the Myrtlewood Stakes at Keeneland, and Famed earned an 84 scoring over a special weight field there by 7-3/4 lengths.
Following that start, Mommasgottarun was run with the addition of Lasix and blinkers, and the latter didn’t seem to improve focus. It wasn’t until they took the cups off last out that she got back on the front end and graduated – and by six lengths. Admittedly, the field was not formidable, but she showed she can still flash speed in dominant fashion, which may have her coming into the Fury feeling fierce. Of course, there’s no guaranteeing an easy lead, and she is stretching out, but as for the surface switch, her pedigree can accommodate. She’s by Maclean’s Music, whose progeny do well over synthetic, and the female family also boasts some interesting names from a class perspective, with her maternal grandmother being a half-sister to Super Saver. Furthermore, it’s a direct, tail-female line hailing from La Troienne and includes the great Numbered Account.
On the rail is Barbara Minshall trainee Sugar Is Golden, who is 12-1. The longer odds are understandable, considering she’s in off a modest maiden optional win. Still, she did prevail by 2 ¼ lengths, and did so after a not-so-smooth start from the gate. It was her first start with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard, and she is listed to ride again.
The Stella Artois Fury Stakes goes off as race 7 on Saturday’s card, with a post time of 4:20pm ET. It’s an exciting race, not only being a prep for the Woodbine Oaks, but from vertical and horizontal wagering standpoint, as well. It falls within the late Pick 5 and kicks off the late Pick 4.
There are plenty of ways to play, but as far as this handicapper’s Top Three:
#2 Pioneer’s Edge
Woodbine Communications, by Ren Carothers (@RenCarothers)