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Baker takes another shot at big payday in Oaks
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Gold Strike's success in the 2005 Woodbine Oaks remains the most lucrative among the 70 career stakes wins recorded by trainer Reade Baker.
On Saturday, Baker will be looking to knock down another $500,000 Woodbine Oaks with High Mist, who was to have been supplemented at a cost of $12,500 when entries for the 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies were taken Thursday.
"She has the pedigree and she has the temperament to go that far," Baker said. "The whole question is how fast can they run?
"I don't see any Gold Strikes in there."
Gold Strike, a Manitoba-bred, campaigned in her home province as a 2-year-old but came east to Baker the following season. After finishing second in the six-furlong Star Shoot, Gold Strike romped in the Grade 3 Selene at 1 1/16 miles prior to capture the Woodbine Oaks in similarly emphatic fashion.
Three weeks later, Gold Strike finished third in the Queen's Plate before injury cut short what would be a Sovereign Award-winning campaign.
High Mist, on the other hand, will come into the Woodbine Oaks as an unknown quantity around two turns.
After beginning her first season with a three-race win streak capped by the six-furlong Fanfreluche, High Mist stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the Princess Elizabeth and faltered badly to end a well-beaten fifth as the odds-on choice. Undaunted, Baker sent High Mist to Florida with a long-term eye toward the Woodbine Oaks.
"For $500,000, anybody with a Canadian-bred 3-year-old filly is going to take a long look at it," said Baker, who had High Mist in Ocala and then at Palm Meadows.
"I took the blinkers off her. I needed to get her straightened out or she was just going to run herself into the ground.
"I tried to enter her a couple of times at Gulfstream, but I couldn't get a race to go."
High Mist resurfaced here in the opening-day La Voyageuse, finishing third as the favorite off an unfavorable inside trip.
Four weeks later, High Mist stretched out to seven furlongs for the Fury and finished a stalking second behind the front-running Woodsmoke.
"Everything's gone according to plan, although the perfect plan she would have won at least one of those two races." Baker said.
"Obviously, we have the ability to take her off the pace. We didn't have that last year, especially in the Princess Elizabeth."
Now, after bypassing an opportunity to run in the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette here May 17, High Mist will come into the Woodbine Oaks off a five-week layoff.
"I wanted to give her the time between her last start," said Baker, who gave High Mist a stiff one-mile prep on May 24 in 1:38 on the training track under jockey Jim McAleney. "It was a pretty effective work."
Fatal Bullet gets back to work
Fatal Bullet, who was Canada's Horse of the Year and champion sprinter in 2008, had his first breeze of the season here last Saturday, going three furlongs in 37.60 seconds.
After being sidelined by a bruised knee when training at Santa Anita this winter, Fatal Bullet spent 45 days swimming in Florida and returned here to Baker at the beginning of May.
"He's right on schedule," said Baker, who is pointing Fatal Bullet for the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture here July 19.
Monty's Best returns a winner
Monty's Best, who finished second in Churchill's Grade 3 Iroquois at one mile in his last of three starts as a 2-year-old, returned to action here last Saturday with an impressive win in a first-level allowance at six furlongs.
"He was turned out after his last race at Churchill; he bruised his feet," Baker said. "It took a long time to get him straightened out.
"What I've got in the back of my mind now is to try to make the West Virginia Derby with him. I'd like to run him a mile and a sixteenth first, around the first of July."
The West Virginia Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $750,000, will be run at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 1.
Woodbine trio heads to Presque Isle
It will be like old home week at Presque Isle Downs on Saturday, with the Woodbine-based Bear Lahaina, Verdana Bold, and Dancing Allstar all in the field for the $100,000 Satin and Lace, a 5 1/2-furlong dash for fillies and mares.
Bear Lahaina is trained by Baker, Verdana Bold by Danny Vella, and Dancing Allstar by Terry Jordan.
Jordan will send Approval Rating in Eclipse
Assistant trainer Anita Bolton will be accompanying Dancing Allstar to Pennsylvania as Jordan, who checked in from his Hastings base on Thursday, will be here to saddle Approval Rating in the Eclipse.
The Grade 3 Eclipse, a $150,000 race for 4-year-olds and up, is one of two 1 1/16-mile stakes on the Saturday card along with the Steady Growth for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.
Approval Rating, a 5-year-old Florida-bred who was purchased for $65,000 at the Woodford Racing dispersal at last year's Keeneland November breeding stock sales, will be making his second start here for Jordan and owner Peter Redekop.
Competing under third-level allowance terms in his seasonal bow on April 24, Approval Rating overcame a slow pace in a short field to score by 1 3/4 lengths.
"I didn't really know how good the horse was, but he'd been training really good all spring in Vancouver," Jordan said.
"I really wanted to run him back in his next condition, but that race never seems to go."
Still, Jordan expects Despite Approval Rating to be ready to roll in the Eclipse.
"He's had a couple of really big works," Jordan said. "I really like him. I think he'll be a horse to be dealt with."
Approval Rating is proven around two turns, having won the 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park here in 2007 for his original trainer, Mark Casse.
Yummy With Butter seeks first stakes
Yummy With Butter, coming off a third-place finish in the six-furlong New Providence here May 5, will be looking for that elusive first stakes score in the Steady Growth.
"He's coming into the race in good order," said Mark Fournier, who trains Yummy With Butter for Bruno Schickedanz.
"I don't know if he's as good going two turns, but he's training forwardly, with good gallops and finishing up strong.
"Last year, he finished third in this race, and it wasn't really planned. This year, we've been aiming for it."