06/04/2002 12:00AM

For Baker, three shots in the two big ones


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Reade Baker will be shooting for the most important victory of his training career on Saturday when Gonetofarr starts in the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

Just over two weeks later, Baker hopes to be hunting even bigger game when he sends out both Classic Mike and Wolverine in the $1 million Queen's Plate.

Gonetofarr, owned by George Farr, will be making her first start in five weeks in the Oaks after a smashing score over Canada's 2-year-old filly champion Ginger Gold in the seven-furlong Fury.

"She physically could not be better," said Baker. "If we can get some racing luck, and she can go that far, we're in great shape."

The question then is will the 1 1/8 miles of the Oaks be too far for Gonetofarr?

She raced around two turns twice here at 2, finishing a well-beaten third behind principal Oaks rivals Ginger Gold and Mulrainy in the Princess Elizabeth, and then second as the odds-on favorite in the Ontario Lassie.

Gonetofarr was making her third career appearance in the Oct. 13 Princess Elizabeth, her previous attempts having come over five and six furlongs, and the fifth and last start of her campaign in the Nov. 25 Lassie.

"Her distance races aren't that good," said Baker, "but I'm convinced she wasn't 100 percent for either test.

"The first race was too ambitious - I was biting off more than I could chew. She wasn't ready to go long that early. And her last start was too close back; she wasn't right."

Gonetofarr raced near the pace on both occasions, which is the style she has employed successfully in sprints.

"I would think a stalking trip would be perfect," said Baker. "But I've got a very competent jock in Jim McAleney, who is riding the best of his life right now. I'm not going to interfere with his plans."

Two for the Plate

Classic Mike, who campaigns for the Terra Racing Stable of Dom Romeo, and Wolverine, owned by Baker in partnership with Derek Cornelius, earned their shots at the 1 1/4-mile Plate with strong efforts here in last Saturday's 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial.

The two raced as an entry that went off as the slight favorite in the Trial but will be uncoupled in the Plate due to the new rule eliminating entries here in races worth $1 million or more.

Classic Mike, who was coming off a first-level allowance victory over 1 1/16 miles, had traffic problems under Jonathan Jones in the Trial but finished well to be second, beaten three-quarters of a length by Shaws Creek.

"He rated very kindly for Jonathan, down on the inside," said Baker. "But he didn't get out when he wanted to get out, and the rail had been bad the last couple of days.

"At the 70-yard pole, the abrupt change to the outside made him completely lose his momentum. To come back and get beat only that far, I thought it was a superb effort."

Wolverine, stretching out for the first time this year following a first-level allowance win at seven furlongs, was prominent early and gave way to finish fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths.

"I thought it was a very courageous race Wolverine put up," said Baker. "I was thrilled with his performance. I was surprised he ran that well, going that far."

Initially, Baker had planned to run Wolverine in an allowance race earlier on last Saturday's Plate Trial program.

"He was under the weather in the middle of the week," said Baker. "If he'd been entered in the allowance race, I couldn't have entered him back for eight days if he'd been a vet scratch.

"But since I entered him in the stakes, I could scratch him of my own volition and run him back in the Victoria Park."

The Victoria Park, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, will be the supporting feature here Saturday.

Change in the surface

Tails of the Crypt, who worked four furlongs in 49.60 seconds here Tuesday, is heading into the Victoria Park off a second-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Marine here last time out.

Changeintheweather, winner of the Grade 1 Grey over 1 1/16 miles here last October but last of five in the Marine, is to bypass the Victoria Park and point to the Charlie Barley, a one-mile turf handicap here Queen's Plate Day.

David Bell, who trains Changeintheweather for the Pin Oak Stable of Josephine Abercrombie, sent out the colt to work five furlongs in 59.60 seconds under regular rider Mickey Walls on the turf training track here last Sunday.

"Mickey jumped off him and was ecstatic," said Bell. "So we decided to wait for the turf and try him there. Maybe that's what he really wants to do."

Feeling like a winner

Bell also trains Affirmed Feeling, a 75-1 shot in the updated Queen's Plate odds released last week. Affirmed Feeling will try to win his maiden going 1 1/16 miles in Thursday's fourth race at Woodbine.

Affirmed Feeling displayed promise at 2, when he finished third behind Streakin Rob and Foregone in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity. He hit the board in each of his other two main-track starts in 2001, but was well beaten in his two turf races last year.

Affirmed Feeling, who recorded a pair of third-place finishes in April, is coming off a stalking fourth, beaten two lengths, over a sloppy track on May 12.

Affirmed Feeling is a homebred owned by Ivan Dalos, who bred 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop.

Facing off against Affirmed Feeling in Thursday's $66,700 maiden special weight race will be Mellowes, Dynamic Prospect, Spirit Bay, Clipping Coins, and Whiskey Wise.

* Trainer Phil Gracey will appeal a nine-month suspension and $5,000 fine handed down by the stewards in a ruling issued by the Ontario Racing Commission stewards here last Sunday.

Susan Gracey, a filly Gracey trains for O'Cainon Stable, had tested positive for metabolites of Valium, which is a Class 2 prohibited drug, following her second-place finish here April 7.

* Jockey Emile Ramsammy has been fined $500 for misuse of his whip. The stewards ruled Ramsammy had cut his mount, Regal Sahib, during the running of the second race here last Wednesday.