04/18/2008 12:00AM

Bear Now begins year in Whimsical


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Bear Now, winner of the Grade 2 Cotillion Handicap, will launch her 2008 campaign Sunday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Whimsical Stakes, a Grade 3 sprint for fillies and mares over six furlongs.

Bear Now captured 4 stakes in 8 starts last year, and had earnings of $769,750. She led throughout the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion at Philadelphia Park, registering a Beyer Speed Figure of 101. She also won the Grade 3 Selene Stakes by eight lengths, and the Hill 'N' Dale Stakes by nearly 10 lengths.

Bear Now would have won the Sovereign Award for champion 3-year-old filly in most years, but Sealy Hill got the nod last year on the strength of her sweep of the Canadian Triple Tiara races and her tough loss in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes.

Bear Now set the early fractions in the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park before fading badly to finish eighth. Trainer Reade Baker said Bear Now bled in the Distaff, after which she was sent to the farm.

"We turned her out after Breeders' Cup," Baker said. "She was ready to run about a month ago, but I couldn't get an allowance race to go for her in Florida, so I just waited until this."

Baker believes that Bear Now is pretty fit, but he said he isn't confident that she's ready to bring her "A" game.

"She's worked five-eighths a bunch of times at Palm Meadows, and she went five-eighths the other day at Woodbine," Baker said. "She should be okay, but I have a concern that when she was a young horse, she didn't show her best first time out. She didn't show her dominant stuff until she'd run a few times. I'm up in the air about how she'll run here."

My List has been idle since her determined win over Wild Gams in the seven-furlong Bessarabian Stakes on Nov. 25. She got a Beyer Figure of 90 in her previous race, when she was second in the 6 1/2-furlong Ruling Angel Stakes.

"She's doing real well," said trainer Nick Gonzalez. "She stayed in Canada all winter, but we had lots of time to get her good and fit. She should be good to go. Six furlongs is a little short for her, but she's going to come out firing fresh, being her first start of the year."

The Whimsical has lured seven others, including United States shippers Into Reality, Marina Ballerina and Quelle Beaute.