05/13/2009 11:00PM

Awesome Rhythm going for two in a row

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Awesome Rhythm overcame a sleepy pace to notch his first stakes win three weeks ago in the Wando. A similar pace scenario could unfold Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Marine Stakes, which has lured just five other 3-year-olds.

Awesome Rhythm spent the winter in Florida with trainer John Ross before shipping back here for the Wando. Favored Bear's Rocket tracked the leader in that 1 1/16-mile event and seemed headed for victory early in the stretch, but Awesome Rhythm rallied stoutly on the outside to win going away.

Ross was impressed with the rally Awesome Rhythm put in that day.

"With a slow pace like that, I was surprised that he took off and went by them," Ross said. "Most of the time, the speed would just carry on. He had a great winter of fitness under his belt. From the way he'd been training and working, I felt really good about him. He's matured well into a 3-year-old. He's bigger and stronger this year."

Ross said Awesome Rhythm had valid excuses for his unplaced effort Feb. 16 in the Ocala Breeders' Sales Championship Stakes.

"He got shut off badly on the turn," Ross said. "It was a speed-oriented track that day."

Trainer Reade Baker entered Bear's Rocket and Bear's Prospector in the 1 1/16-mile Marine.

Bear's Rocket thrust himself onto the early Kentucky Derby trail when he finished a front-running second in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. He subsequently ran sixth behind Musket Man and General Quarters in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby.

Baker said he was baffled by the Wando result.

"I thought his race was good, but I didn't understand it," Baker explained. "They run three-quarters in 1:15, and then a closer won it. I don't know how he got by any of those horses."

Bear's Prospector, the possible pacemaker, defeated 13 opponents in a maiden special weight sprint here April 18.

"I thought his win the other day was pretty impressive," Baker said. "We liked him all along. He didn't get his act together as fast as we'd hoped."

Colonel Rutledge and His Greatness are both coming off lackluster performances south of the border.

Parabola, victorious in the restricted Kingarvie Stakes at 2, is eligible to next month's Queen's Plate.

* The first turf race of the meet is scheduled for Saturday. A field of eight fillies and mares was drawn for the second-level optional claimer.