05/01/2008 11:00PM

Baker has stakes horses all over map


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Reade Baker will be a man on the move over the next couple of weeks as he divides his attention between his home team and several road trippers.

Baker's first out-of-town engagement will be with Northern Netti, who will be looking for her third win in as many career starts in the $100,000 Bouwerie, a seven-furlong race for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies at Belmont on Sunday.

Northern Netti, a winner of her debut here last October and of her seasonal debut here April 6 for owners Jim and Susan Hill, will be ridden by Tyler Pizarro for the first time.

"He worked her for me last time," said Baker, who sent out Northern Netti to breeze five furlongs in 1:01.40 here last Sunday. "He got on a lot of horses for me at Palm Meadows this winter."

Next Saturday, Baker plans to be at Presque Isle Downs to saddle Bright Pick for the $100,000 Tall Ships. Bright Pick, also owned by the Hills, was an upset winner of a first-level allowance race in his seasonal bow here opening day and will be looking for his third straight win in the six-furlong Tall Ships for 3-year-olds.

Baker also intends to have a Woodbine stakes runner that day, with Executive Choice slated for the $125,000 New Providence, a six-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

Executive Choice, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Jim Aston, Augi Onesi, and Bull Market Stable, finished a close fourth when making his 2008 debut in an open allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs here April 6.

In the meantime, Kentucky Bear has moved back to Keeneland after failing to make the cut for the Kentucky Derby field and will be on his way to Pimlico for the May 17 Preakness.

Owned by the Bear Stable of Danny Dion, Kentucky Bear finished third when making just his third career start for Baker in the Grade 1 Blue Grass.

Bear Now, another Bear-Baker production, also is slated to run on the Preakness card in the Grade 2, $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff at 1 1/16 miles.

A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly who won four stakes and $769,750 last year, Bear Now finished second in her season debut in the six-furlong Whimsical here April 20.

Baker has recruited Jamie Theriot for the mounts on both Kentucky Bear and Bear Now.

Armata, 26, wins with second starter

It certainly didn't take very long for trainer Will Armata to find the winner's circle.

One week after receiving his trainer's license, Armata clicked with his second starter when Astera, a 4-year-old filly whom he also owns, won for a $10,000 claiming price in Wednesday's seventh race.

"I was really happy I could get started," said Armata, who is the son of trainer Vito Armata.

Armata, 26, has been working with his father for the past 10 years and always aspired to be a trainer.

"I didn't want to rush," said Armata. "I wanted to make sure I was ready."

In the last couple of years, Armata had claimed a number of horses in partnership with the Rainbow Stable of Andy and Jean Vecchiarelli.

The most prominent of those acquisitions was Very Professional, who was taken for $10,000 here in September 2006 and won five races and $62,898 last season.

Very Professional, now 10, was the first horse saddled by Armata in his new role and finished a closing sixth in Wednesday's fourth race.

Will Armata becomes the fifth Armata training here as he joins Vito; Francesca, daughter of Vito's brother John; Ross Armata, who is Vito's brother; and Ross Armata Jr.

The Attard family also boasts a quintet of Woodbine-based trainers in brothers Sid and Tino; Sid's son Paul; Tino's son Kevin; and Steve, son of the late Joe, who was brother to Sid and Tino.

Lickety Lemon points for Selene

Lickety Lemon breezed five furlongs in 59.60 seconds here Friday and is under consideration for the Grade 3, $250,000 Selene, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies here May 18.

Trained by Mark Casse, Lickety Lemon has made her first six career starts on turf and is coming off an eighth-place finish in Keeneland's Grade 3 Appalachian, where she was beaten just 4 3/4 lengths.

Officer Cherrie, who like Lickety Lemon is owned by Charles Laloggia, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 for Casse here Thursday and definitely is eyeing the Selene.

Winner of the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Mazarine in her final outing at 2, Officer Cherrie finished seventh in her 2008 debut in Keeneland's Grade 2 Beaumont.

The Selene is positioned as the final major local stakes prep for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies on June 8.

Both Lickety Lemon and Officer Cherrie are Kentucky-breds.

New websites for Plate and Oaks

Woodbine will be unveiling a new look for its Queen's Plate and Woodbine Oaks "microsites" on Monday.

The websites, at queensplate.com and woodbineoaks.com, will include video features, photo galleries, news, and a top 10 contenders list.

Similar sites for the Woodbine Mile and Canadian International will be upcoming.

Funeral held for Pearce, 80

A funeral was held Friday morning for trainer Bill Pearce, who died at age 80 on Monday at Southlake Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario, following a long battle with leukemia.

Pearce's best horse was Silver Joy, who finished second here in 1995 Natalma and third in the 1997 Classy N' Smart and banked $137,932 with a record of 4-6-4 from 29 starts.

His last winner was Bluelick here last Dec. 7. Bluelick returned to win her 2008 debut for trainer Norm DeSouza.

The late Samuel-Balaz honored

The late Tammy Samuel-Balaz is the recipient of this year's Mint Julep Cup Award, which recognizes overall contributions to the Ontario breeding industry.

The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, Ontario division, also announced this week that Mike Carroll and John C. Harvey Jr. will be honored as Ontario's breeders of the year. The partners bred Maryfield, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

The annual CTHS awards night will take place Friday, June 13, at the Glencairn Golf Club in Milton, Ontario.

For additional information or to order tickets, call (416) 675-3602.