08/18/2008 12:00AM

Barnett's persistence pays off


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - You Will Love Me was one of the Cinderella stories of the 2007 Woodbine meeting, winning three stakes races and banking $337,880 for her owner and breeder, Bill Jones.

Trained by Earl Barnett and ridden by Eurico Rosa da Silva, You Will Love Me competed in Ontario-sired and Ontario-foaled company and compiled a record of 4-2-2 from 8 starts in that 3-year-old campaign.

This year, it appeared that the clock may have struck midnight after You Will Love Me finished no better than fifth in her first three appearances.

But Barnett kept the faith, and on Sunday the fairy tale resumed in the $127,400 Victoriana as You Will Love Me battled back in rather improbable fashion after being passed in midstretch by the favored Executive Flight.

"My concern always had been the extra weight she was carrying, and the fact that there were not enough races for her to get fit enough," said Barnett, after watching You Will Love Me prevail in Sunday's 1 1/16-mile turf race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares. "Last year she had three weeks or less between races, many times. But this year she had no conditions, and no place to run. I was forced to run her on soft turf. I think she's at par on either course, but it has to be firm turf for her."

You Will Love Me's off-turf effort came in the 6 1/2-furlong Repercussion, an open race run over yielding going here July 9 which also led to a change in the filly's regimen.

"I scoped her after the race, and found a couple of spots," said Barnett. "It looked like she could be attempting to bleed. She went on the Lasix program for her protection."

Using Lasix is not an automatic for Barnett, who prefers first to explore other avenues.

"If I can keep them hydrated in the summer, I'll avoid it," said Barnett. "But if they need it, they need it."

You Will Love Me had her first workout with Lasix on Aug. 3, going in 1:12 on the training track turf course, and was making her 14th career start when racing with the medication for the first time in the Victoriana.

Staying true to his belief that racing is the best medicine for You Will Love Me, Barnett plans to swing back his filly in the 1 1/16-mile Algoma here Sept. 1.

The Algoma, for fillies and mares, is one of six $125,000 yearling sales stakes on that Labor Day program.

You Will Love Me is eligible because she went through the ring in the local 2005 yearling sale and her $12,000 reserve was not met.

Juliet's Spirit strikes again

No matter who is at the helm, trainer Steve Asmussen's barn continues to make waves in the 2-year-old ranks here at Woodbine.

Assistant trainer Steve Flint, who had been in charge of the day-to-day operations here for the past four months, parted company with the Asmussen organization last week, and Darren Fleming, who had been here to set up the division in April, was recalled from Lone Star Park.

On Saturday, Fleming sent out Juliet's Spirit to capture the $151,200 Ontario Debutante with her stablemates A Day for Dancing and Fanci Candi finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the six-furlong stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

The three had last raced in the five-furlong My Dear with Juliet's Spirit finishing first, A Day for Dancing second, and Fanci Candi fourth.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Padua Stable, Juliet's Spirit now is perfect in three starts with earnings of $216,000 under regular rider Jim McAleney.

Juliet's Spirit was the meet-leading 10th 2-year-old winner from the Asmussen barn, which has a total of 25 winners from its first 143 starters to rank in a three-way tie for fourth place.

"At this time of year, 2-year-olds are a big part of our program everywhere, no matter where we are," said Fleming. "So far we've brought the right horses and had them in the right spots, and they liked Polytrack."

Fleming, who had a new load of Asmussen runners ship in from Churchill Downs on Saturday, admits that the outfit is still in the learning stages here.

"We try to get horses who like Polytrack, find out which horses fit where, and which kinds of races go," said Fleming.

Serenading finally lands on top

Serenading had been winless in stakes company while placing on four occasions, all at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, including back-to-back second-place finishes behind Bear Now in her last two starts.

But the stars finally aligned for Serenading on Saturday, as she employed her patented late rally under rider David Clark to run down Bear Now in the $100,600 Belle Mahone at 1 1/16 miles.

"We were all elated," said Josie Carroll, who trains Serenading for John and Glenn Sikura. "We knew this was a good filly, and we were confident she would get over the hump and win her first stakes race. She just needed the opportunity to have a race set up, to show what she could do."

The next main-track two-turn stakes for fillies and mares here is the Maple Leaf, a 1 1/4-mile race on Oct. 19, and Serenading could explore other options in the interim.

"She could go out of town, and she hasn't tried the turf," said Carroll. "I'll talk with John and Glenn, and see what they want to do."

Matt's Lucky Lad climbs the ladder

Carroll also had cause to celebrate in the race preceding the Belle Mahone when Matt's Lucky Lad, a 4-year-old gelding whom she trains for Robert Mitchell, was a game winner of an optional $62,500 claimer and second-level allowance race.

Matt's Lucky Lad, who graduated at seven furlongs in his second of three starts at 2, opened up his current campaign with a third-place finish at that distance and has since run through his first two conditions, also at seven furlongs.

"He's turning out to be a very useful horse," Carroll. "I thought he was pretty nice last year, but he injured himself and was out all winter."

Matt's Lucky Lad's Beyer Speed Figures have been improving steadily, peaking with a 93 last Saturday.