07/03/2009 12:00AM

Baker's talented pair attempt two turns


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Although the featured Ontario Damsel came up light, a pair of potential 3-year-old heavyweights have surfaced in an interesting spot on Sunday's program at Woodbine.

Monty's Best and Bearcatt, both trained by Reade Baker, will face fellow 3-year-old Kennisis Ridge and four older rivals in a second-level optional $62,500 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles.

"I'm certainly not happy running against older horses," said Baker. "I just don't have any other options here. It's hard to find places for them out of town, too. Either the purses are too small to justify the cost of shipping or they're monster races."

Monty's Best won his maiden over seven furlongs in his second start here last fall and then wound up his campaign with a solid second-place finish in the Grade 3 Iroquois over one mile at Churchill Downs.

"After that we just turned him out in Kentucky," said Baker, who had Monty's Best on his winter list for Palm Meadows. "But when he showed up in Florida his feet were all bruised. It took us months to get that cleared up."

After being entered in a couple of races here which did not fill, Monty's Best finally made it to the post on May 30 and was a handy winner of a first-level allowance over six furlongs.

His immediate victim there was Exchange Note, who was the prohibitive choice off his very impressive debut win.

"It was a fancy race for him," said Baker. "I thought it was an awful fast horse he ran down."

While Baker has been looking forward to trying Monty's Best around two turns he admits to some trepidation.

"Lots of times you'll think they'll go around two turns, and they won't," said Baker.

Bearcatt graduated over five furlongs in his second outing here last fall and opened up his current campaign with an emphatic come-from-behind score in the six-furlong Woodstock on April 26.

In his only subsequent appearance, Bearcatt tried turf for the first time and rallied strongly to finish third in a second-level optional $62,500 claimer for 3-year-olds and upward going seven furlongs.

"I don't know if he'll go two turns," said Baker. "He doesn't have the length of body that Monty's Best does, but his style says he will."

How Far Is Heaven impresses Casse

The Ontario Damsel, a 6 1/2-furlong turf race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies, attracted just a handful of entrants and Mark Casse will field a pair in Deeveetee and How Far Is Heaven.

Deeveetee will be running on grass for the second time after ending a faltering seventh in the one-mile China Doll at Santa Anita last winter.

"She kind of wouldn't rate," said Casse. "At six and a half furlongs, I think she'll run all right."

Deeveetee tuned up for the Ontario Damsel with a five-furlong breeze in a black-letter 59.00 seconds on the training track turf course here last Sunday.

"She worked okay but the horse I thought worked really, really well on the grass is How Far Is Heaven," said Casse.

How Far Is Heaven, who had breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 over a good turf training course here June 10, will be making her first start on the grass in the Ontario Damsel.

"Both horses should like the grass," said Casse. "It's just a matter of whether they're good enough."

Awesome Rhythm will try turf

Awesome Rhythm worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 under regular rider Jim McAleney here Friday and is scheduled to make his next start in next Saturday's $150,000 Toronto Cup, an open race for 3-year-olds.

Awesome Rhythm would be making his turf debut in the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup after putting together a Polytrack triple of the 1 1/16-mile Wando, 1 1/16-mile Marine, and 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park.

"It would be nice to have all of those other options, if he's turf and Polytrack," said trainer John Ross. "It would open up the doors for a lot of races down the road."

Awesome Rhythm blew out three furlongs in 36.80 on the turf training track last week with McAleney in the irons.

"I didn't want him to go all the way around the turn," said Ross. "He's such a big, long-striding horse. He got a feel of the course, and Jimmy said he handled it well. From my eye, he looked good too."

Costalivin targets Deputy Minister

Ross also reports that Costalivin is back on track after missing his scheduled engagement in the June 21 Queen's Plate due to a blood disorder.

"His blood's back in good order," said Ross,

The 3-year-old Costalivin worked six furlongs in 1:14 under McAleney here Wednesday and is scheduled to make his next start in the July 15 Deputy Minister.

The Deputy Minister, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds, offers a purse of $125,000.

"He's probably best at a mile and a sixteenth, but he's run very well at seven furlongs," said Ross.

Stable undergoes growth spurt

Trainer Liz Charalambous had her stable more than double in size this week with the addition of four horses previously trained by Jim Day.

Charalambous added Secret Wish, North of Superior, Spirit Lodge, and Red Lake Gold to her three-horse string of Deli Lama, General Brock, and Eye uv the Eagle.

All of the Charalambous horses are owned by her cousin Rob Cudney.

Secret Wish, a 3-year-old filly, is the most accomplished of the newcomers, having won her maiden in a first-level allowance last fall.

Deli Lama, a 4-year-old filly, also is a one-time winner but has finished in the top three in six of nine starts and was disqualified from a second-place finish on another occasion.

Charalambous, 43, is the wife of trainer John Charalambous.

Several riders fined for whip use

Chantal Sutherland, Eurico Rosa da Silva, and Jerry Baird have been fined by the stewards for using their whips "with excessive frequency" during races here last weekend.

Sutherland, who had ridden Dozen Dancer to a second-place finish in Sunday's third race, was fined $500 for her third whip citation this season. Dozen Dancer was beaten by a half-length.

Eurico Rosa da Silva was fined $300 after riding Bearyoungheart to a second-place finish, beaten a head, in Saturday's last race. It was da Silva's second violation of the meeting.

Baird, who won that Saturday finale aboard Tanners's Crossing, was fined $200.

Patrick Husbands has been fined $300 for "inappropriate use of the whip."

The stewards ruled that Husbands had left "cuts and welts on the right flank fold" of his mount, third-place finisher Circle Bound, during the running of Wednesday's seventh race.