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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Prestigious Woodbine Oaks wide open

Sunday morning and it's cool and crisp. Queen's Plate hopefuls are out in full force this morning, getting in some important workouts for the June 25 event.
First up, however, is the big race for the fillies - the 51st Woodbine Oaks, which has a post time of 5:12 p.m.
A star should emerge from the competitive field but so many big names are missing. Gumboots and Feathered Diamond were injured this week and race favourite Like a Gem has never won a stakes race and missed seven days of training due to a virus.
Third leading rider Justin Stein could win his first major event aboard SWEET BREANNA, a popular pick (DRF consensus choice) by handicappers.
Trainer Steve Attard was grinning from ear-to-ear at the post position draw on Thursday:

"I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, it’s very exciting. I actually think I have a legit shot and that makes you feel good. She was a gorgeous looking filly (at the yearling sale), I thought she would have sold for more.

"She just keeps better with every race. Last year, for the Princess Elizabeth, she flipped in the gate and hit her head. I was shocked she wasn’t scratched. What gets me excited is that I always think my horses have a chance but my wife - who is my assistant trainer - she never says anything and she said this horse is good. That really makes me feel good."

A super card of racing has been assembled for Oaks day, beginning with the 4TH RACE, an intriguing 2-year-old event. Only one colt has raced - FIRST CAVALRY - and there is a member of the first exciting crop of $5 million earner Street Cry (Seaside Links) and Officer.
Whispers (and workout times) say ATLANTIC SHORE (Stormy Atlantic) is a good one to consider.
The ALYWOW Stakes, named after Kinghaven Farm's Horse of the Year (1994) is a wild affair at 6 1/2 furlongs on the grass. Tons of early speed should set the race up for off-the-pace types like...who?
Maybe ANGEL ON WATCH, with limited immediate grass breeding, ARRAVALE, whose workout times have been sizzling or shipper MIDRIS, whose trainer often cleans up when he comes to Woodbine.
The late PICK 3 on the card includes a MSW race for Ontario-sired runners, the Oaks and a MSW race on grass. The latter event offers many possibilties including first-time turfers BROAD RANGE (out of turf SW Bristol Pistol), HIGH TABLE (turf breeding top and bottom) and proven grassers RIVER HEIGHTS and GOLF TRIP.

Chiefswood Stable's ALLEGED RULER pops up at Fort Erie for an allowance race. The dark bay ridgling was recently fourth in the Grade 3 Eclipse to Arch Hall. The latter, by the way, was upset in yesterday's Barbados Steady Growth Stakes by 7-year-old Barbeau Ruckus, who became Canadian racing's newest millionaire.
Also at Fort Erie, 13-year-old MAJOR ZEE makes his second start for new owner/trainer Jason Giliforte in a $9,000 claiming event on turf.
Sam-Son Farms' HIGH BUTTON SHOES pops up at Belmont Park for the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap follwoing a win in the Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes. Eibar Coa rides and the 4-year-old meets rockets like Smokey Glacken and Dubai Escapade.
At Churchill Downs there is an interesting 2-year-old maiden race (5th race). Consensus pick in the DRF is SHERMANESQUE, a beautifully bred colt who has many 2-year-old winners in his pedigree but...
check out SMOOTH STEPPIN MAN (Minardi, a ch. 2-year-old) who worked the fastest one-furlong for a 2-year-old sale in Florida in Feb., :10 1/5.


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