10/07/2004 11:00PM

A Bit O'Gold can seal division title


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A Bit O'Gold and Organ Grinder, the two best 3-year-olds at Woodbine, will face off in Sunday's $160,050 Ontario Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race that could have Sovereign Award implications.

A Bit O'Gold is widely regarded to be the leader of the Canadian 3-year-old division, and Organ Grinder would likely need a blowout victory Sunday to be put at the top of the heap.

A Bit O'Gold, the Queen's Plate runner-up, was only three-quarters of a length away from sweeping this year's Canadian Triple Crown. He defeated Plate winner Niigon in the second leg of the series, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie.

In the final Triple Crown race, the Breeders' Stakes, A Bit O'Gold made a successful transition to the grass, winning by daylight over a sharp Burst of Fire.

Trainer Catherine Day Phillips gave A Bit O'Gold a break after the Aug. 8 Breeders' and said A Bit O'Gold is ready to roll following the two-month layoff.

"He went to the farm for about 10 days," Day Phillips said. "We brought him back and had half a thought to run him in the [Sept. 5] Elgin Stakes, but he just wasn't as sharp as he should have been then, so we gave him a little more time. He's had three nice breezes coming into this race. The track's been pretty deep whenever he's breezed, and he's handled it fine. I think he's fit and ready to go."

Day Phillips said he felt A Bit O'Gold won the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' on more than sheer ability.

"I don't know that a mile and a half on the grass is his game," she said. "He's just a classy horse who always gives 100 percent."

Organ Grinder, a Kentucky-bred trained by Sid Attard, earned a 103 Beyer Figure when he took the nine-furlong Victoria Park Stakes in June. He won the allowance prep for the Ontario Derby, and was all out to win the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park.

Attard said he felt the 1 3/8-mile distance of the Canadian Derby was farther than Organ Grinder wants to go.

"He showed a lot of speed there," Attard said. "He made three runs in the race, and we were lucky to win it. He just gutted it out. He was four wide all the way, but that's how he likes to run. If he's inside, he won't run. He'll give you 110 percent on the outside."

* Heyahohowdy heads Sunday's supporting feature, the $104,000 Belle Geste Stakes, a race she won in 2003.