09/15/2005 11:00PM

Beware of Balding's shipper

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $283,500 Summer, a one-mile grass stakes for 2-year-olds on Sunday at Woodbine, is an intriguing handicapping puzzle. There are six shippers in the nine-horse field, the best of whom might be English invader Santiago Star.

Santiago Star is trained by Andrew Balding, who captured two Woodbine turf stakes earlier this summer, the Grade 2 Play the King with Atto Mile contestant Vanderlin, and the Wonder Where with Silver Highlight.

Santiago Star won his maiden in his fourth start Aug. 5, in a seven-furlong handicap at Newmarket. Two weeks later, in his most recent engagement, he finished third over soft ground in a one-mile stakes at Sandown.

"He won quite nicely at Newmarket," said assistant trainer Leanne Masterton, who said he believes a mile is perfect for Santiago Star.

Masterton said Santiago Star has settled in nicely this week into Woodbine's Standardbred barn.

"He traveled well, and has been eating up," said Masterton. "He has been out for a couple of dances, and he worked an easy six furlongs [Thursday] on the dirt training track. He kicked on in the straight."

There are five American runners in the Grade 2 Summer, including the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Baur Au Lac and Wedding Singer.

Baur Au Lac won his only start, in a six-furlong maiden special at Belmont, by nearly three lengths after drifting out in the stretch. Wedding Singer won second time out at Saratoga, running 5 1/2 furlongs in a quick 1:02.77.

John Velazquez, who has ridden both Pletcher horses, was named on Baur Au Lac.

Kid Carousel, based at Belmont with trainer Randy Schulhofer, led throughout his maiden victory going 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga. The Beyer Speed Figure he earned, an 81, is the highest in the Summer field.

Perhaps the best local runner in the lineup is Bear's Kid, who won his maiden at Northlands Park in his second start in late July. He was subsequently shipped here to trainer Reade Baker, and he finished second in the allowance prep for the Summer. Bear's Kid set soft fractions before giving way to favored Seaside Retreat in deep stretch.

"I was very pleasantly surprised with how well he ran," Baker said. "He bled a little bit in there, and he's going on Lasix, which will help him."

Baker said he wasn't concerned with running Bear's Kid back 17 days after the prep. "He's a big, tough horse," Baker said.