TORONTO, October 6, 2023 – Oceanic, a multiple graded stakes-placed son of Constitution-Rockin Girl, tackles six furlongs of E.P. Taylor turf and 12 rivals in Sunday’s $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (G2T) at Woodbine.
Trained by Jordan Blair for Surfside Stables, LLC, 6-year-old Oceanic has encountered his fair share of bad racing luck over a career that has yielded a 4-3-3 mark from 25 starts, to go along with $348,624 (U.S.) in earnings.
The bay’s past three starts are prime examples of tough trips he’s endured.
On May 23, at Indiana Downs, Oceanic stumbled at the three-eighths pole but recovered to finish fourth, 2 ¼ lengths behind the winner in the five-furlong turf race. One race later, on July 1, Oceanic stumbled at the start of the Highlander (G2T) at Woodbine but rallied to finish second, a half-length back of Lucky Score in the six-furlong trek over the E.P. Taylor turf.
Last time out, on August 6, the gelding was bumped early in the 5 ½-furlong KY Downs Preview Turf Sprint Stakes at Ellis Park, before regrouping to finish fourth.
“He’s had a lot of issues and other things over the years,” said Blair. “But he’s a trier and he always gives you everything he’s got.”
Blair sees the E.P. Taylor course as an ideal fit for Oceanic.
“We’ve freshened him for this one and he seems to always run well off a freshening. We had to decide whether to run at Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, or at Keeneland or Woodbine. One thing we noticed about Canada, is that he flourished on that turf course, and the extra half-furlong really fits his running style right now. It could make all the difference in the world. With such a big course up there, at least in our last race, the horses really spread out and gave us a lot of running room."
“And the turf course is beautiful. I had come up to Toronto many years ago when I was an assistant with Kenny McPeek and we won the Summer Stakes (in 2009) with a horse named Bridgetown. I’ve been up there several times and experienced it and it’s a lovely course. It has big, sweeping turns and it gives the horses room to run. With more than a quarter mile turning for home, it gives you a real true sense of your horse, rather than having those troubled trips like Oceanic has dealt with. He stumbled in the Highlander, but he had plenty of time to make that big run.”
Bred in Kentucky by DP Racing LLC, Oceanic debuted with a second-place effort on April 1, 2020, in a six-furlong dirt race at Tampa Bay Downs. He broke his maiden in his seventh start, a 4 ½-length score at five panels over the Tampa Bay turf on January 17, 2021.
His lone stakes victory came in last year’s Woodford Reserve Da Hoss Stakes. He was second in the Woodford Reserve (G2T) next time out and then contested the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T), finishing thirteenth to Caravel.
“It almost feels like he should be a Grade 1 winner by now,” said Blair. “He’s as talented as any of the turf sprinters out there, but without getting the breaks. Hopefully, he can get away well, and if he’s able to settle mid-pack, then watch out. If he can get the trip, I think he’s sitting on a pretty big race.”
Oceanic will face some heavy hitters in the Nearctic, a group that features multiple graded stakes winner Lucky Score, who is 2-2-4 in his last eight starts. Other hopefuls include graded stakes winner Big Invasion, 2023 Connaught Cup (G2T) victor Dream Shake, multiple graded stakes-placed Ice Chocolat (BRZ), and graded stakes winner Masen (GB).
Field for the Grade 2 Nearctic
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Dream Shake – Rafael Hernandez – Michael Stidham
2 – Remuda – Patrick Husbands – Eoin Harty
3 – Jazz Hands – Shane Ellis – Harold Ladouceur
4 – County Final (S) – Edgard Zayas – Saffie Joseph, Jr.
5 – War Bomber (IRE) – Ryan Munger – Norm McKnight
6 – Oceanic – Reylu Gutierrez – Jordan Blair
7 – Lucky Score – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse
8 – Masen (GB) – Kazushi Kimura – Chad Brown
9 – Last American Exit – Justin Stein – Harold Ladouceur
10 – Ice Chocolat (BRZ) – Javier Castellano – Mark Casse
11 – Big Invasion – Dylan Davis – Christophe Clement
12 – Rockcrest – Keveh Nicholls – Nigel Burke
13 – Dhabab (IRE) – William Buick – Edward Vaughan
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms