After a rousing win on the Travers undercard at Saratoga three weeks ago, Summer of Fun will be upping the stakes up north at Woodbine Race Track in the one mile Grade 2 $250,000 Natalma Stakes on Saturday afternoon. The Bona Venture Stables’ filly out by Include out of a Royal Anthem mare will take on 13 talented fillies in a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Race for the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Last year Bona Ventures Stables’ Royal Bonnie qualified for the same race, the first BC race for the partnership group owned by St. Bonaventure University Alumni.
Some of the nation’s top riders will head north for the big weekend of races at Woodbine, which will also include the Grade 2 Summer Stakes on Saturday for 2-year-old colts. On Sunday, the big Woodbine Mile card will feature Horse of the Year candidate Wise Dan, as Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez will fly in to ride. In the Natalma alone, Summer of Fun will retain the mount of Rajiv Maragh, and New York regulars Javier Castellano (Coconut Shrimp) and Rosie Napravnik (Kitten’s Dumplings) will head to Toronto, in addition to Garret Gomez one of California's top jockeys who will ride Spring in the Air.
Summer of Fun was assigned a 10-1 morning line and drew the rail, but seems to not be gaining any respect, even though she has the second best Beyer Speed figure (76) in the field, only bested by the morning line favorite Tiz Ro (77) who will be ridden by Woodbine stalwart Luis Contreras.
I spoke with Bona Venture managing partner Dan Collins earlier in the week and he is used to being under the radar and savors the opportunity to seize the moment with Summer of Fun. “We don’t usually get any respect, but we tend to surprise. I suspect that is going to happen again on Saturday. People underestimate our quality,” said Collins.
Collins has been happy with her training off the maiden win at Saratoga. “She’s been training great. She had a nice 48 and 3 work this week. The post is difficult, but she has enough speed to get out, position and stalk the leaders. I expect her to be a couple lengths off early, move up and contend on the turn and wait for her to ignite at the top of the stretch.” Collins doesn’t feel that the cut back to a mile from 8 ½-furlongs is an issue. “Her maiden win saw her clear by two lengths at the mile marker. There is enough speed to keep everyone honest,” said the Bona Ventures Stables managing partner.
It should be a tremendous weekend of racing and the Bona grads in the Buffalo area will be rooting hard for the newest superstar in the Bona Ventures Stable in an attempt to advance the Stable to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita for the second straight year.
On Sunday’s Woodbine Mile undercard, Bella Cavello Stables, a Buffalo-based stable, will send out Little B Rosson in the second race, a $31K sprint race for fillies and mares, three years old and up.