08/21/2003 12:00AM

Battlements reaches his target race


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Battlements may be facing a rather tall order as the only 3-year-old in the field of eight for Saturday's Shepperton Stakes.

But Battlements, owned and bred by Minshall Farm and trained by Barb Minshall, has been pointing for the Shepperton since late June and certainly can be expected to put up a fight under the meet's leading stakes-winning rider, Todd Kabel.

"He's done everything right, from the get-go," said Minshall. "Right from day one, he's just been a little machine."

Battlements didn't make it to the races until last fall, but showed plenty of promise, finishing second in each of his two starts.

The gelding wasted no time in making the breakthrough this year, winning his maiden in the first race of the meeting. He followed that with four solid efforts, capped by a win in the six-furlong Afleet here June 21.

After the Afleet, Minshall gave Battlements a breather with an eye toward the Shepperton, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-sired runners.

"I gave him a little break," said Minshall. "He had run five races; it was just the right thing to do. There are a few spots for him in the fall and, being Ontario-sired, he could start back here."

The race before to the Shepperton marks the first lifetime start for Strike the Harp, a baby sister to Battlements.

Strike the Harp, by Sea Wall and the second foal of Castlemania, will break from post 10 in the field of 11 in the five-furlong maiden special.

"I don't crank them up, but she's ready to go," said Minshall. "We'll see what happens; she's training good.

"She's a nice little filly; I like her a lot. She has a good attitude."

Minshall trains another talented Ontario-sired 3-year-old gelding in Snake Pit, winner of the seven-furlong Frost King in his third career start here last October.

Snake Pit finished that first campaign on a low note, running a distant last of seven in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity He emerged from that race with a broken pastern, underwent two operations over the winter, and did not make it back to the races until July 24.

A gelding, Snake Pit was impressive in that return outing, winning a first-level allowance at seven furlongs by a widening 3 3/4 lengths.

Minshall considered running back Snake Pit in the Aug. 6 Vice Regent, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds, but was concerned about the relatively brief time between starts.

"And I thought my other horse in there had a very good chance to win," said Minshall, speaking of Knotty Behaviour, who finished fourth but beaten just 1 1/2 lengths in the Vice Regent.

In the meantime, Snake Pit's schedule was interrupted by a foot bruise. But he should soon be back in the entries.

Kiralik arrives for Colleen

Kiralik, who recently was purchased privately in Europe, checked in from France Wednesday evening and will make her North American debut for owner George Bolton and trainer John Kimmel here in Sunday's Ontario Colleen Handicap.

The Ontario Colleen, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, attracted a field of 14 and will be worth $149,375.

Kiralik, bred in Great Britain, has raced in Italy and France, winning three of nine starts and $105,805.

"She'll leave after the race and go to Saratoga, to join the main outfit," said Karen Thomas, an assistant to Kimmel who is overseeing Kiralik here.

Too Late Now tries turf in Colleen

The Colleen also will feature the return of Too Late Now, the Labatt Woodbine Oaks winner, who will be making her turf debut for trainer Jim Day and the Come By Chance Stable of his mother, Edna Arrow.

Too Late Now, who began her career here in April, had won the Grade 1 Selene over 1 1/16 miles prior to recording her fourth straight win in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks.

After losing for the first time when third in Fort Erie's 1 1/16-mile Bison City, Too Late Now was sent to the farm to freshen up for a fall campaign.

"She was gone for about a month," said Day. "She seemed to gain some weight, which I think was good for her. She did very well; she seems quite relaxed."

Too Late Now has never trained on grass, but has some turf leanings in her pedigree.

"I'm hoping that bodes well for turf for her," said Day. "If it doesn't, we'll know where not to go next time."

First Quarter also will be back in business for Day here Sunday, after joining Too Late Now during her stay on the farm.

A 4-year-old filly who also races under the Come By Chance banner, First Quarter will go in the supporting feature, the $106,000 Belle Geste at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

First Quarter's best races to date have come over this course at Sunday's distance, as she won the Carotene here last fall and was second, beaten a nose, in the Grade 3 Dance Smartly in her last start July 5.

Day is looking at running First Quarter in the Grade 1, $1 million Atto Mile here Sept. 14, but also has the option of the Grade 2, $200,000 Canadian Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares on the same program.