11/03/2003 1:00AM

A Bit O'Gold gets his chance and scores

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - As recently as a month ago, A Bit O'Gold wasn't even considered his own stable's No. 1 hopeful for the $250,000 Coronation Futurity, which is this country's premier test for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.

On Sept. 21, trainer Catherine Day Phillips won the seven-furlong Swynford with Winter Whiskey, who defeated some talented American-bred opposition, and the Coronation was tabbed as Winter Whiskey's long-term target.

Winter Whiskey was still the stable's Coronation horse a week later, when Bit O'Gold, also trained by Day Phillips, won a maiden race here in his six-furlong debut.

But a funny thing happened before the Coronation.

In his next start, stretching out to 1 1/16 miles and trying turf for the first time, Winter Whiskey was 10th in the Oct. 11 Cup and Saucer. A Bit O'Gold was a game winner in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 17, his second career start.

Day Phillips judged A Bit O'Gold to be going better than Winter Whiskey, and gave A Bit O'Gold the nod for the Coronation last Saturday.

So while Winter Whiskey stayed in the barn, A Bit O'Gold was in the winner's circle after the Coronation, improving his record to three wins in three starts and increasing his earnings to $225,960.

A Bit O'Gold was following the blueprint established by his brother, the late Arco's Gold, who won the 2002 Coronation to stay undefeated in three starts.

Day Phillips acknowledged that she was influenced by the similarities between the brothers after A Bit O'Gold's win at 1 1/16 miles.

"I didn't really want to run him back two weeks apart," said Day Phillips. "He'd shown so much promise, we wanted to treat him properly. But as the race got closer and he was training so well it seemed silly to pass up a such a big race."

With A Bit O'Gold and Winter Whiskey prospects for the 2004 Queen's Plate, Day Phillips will be taking them to Florida to train them over the winter.

"We've rented a barn at Classic Mile," said Day Phillips, who will be taking 20 horses to the Florida facility.

Juvenile honors debate heats up

Arco's Gold did not run last year after the Coronation, and his record did not earn him a spot among the Sovereign Award finalists.

A Bit O'Gold will not run again this year, but his campaign, which was very similar to his brother's last year, has made him a serious candidate for his divisional championship.

Arco's Gold's competition for 2-year-old male honors last year included Added Edge, who was undefeated in four starts and the eventual champion; Wando, winner of the Grade 2 Grey; and Mobil, who won the Cup and Saucer and dead heated for first in the Coronation only to be disqualified.

The division this year is comparatively weak with Smoocher, who won his maiden in the Grey, the other leading candidate.

Smoocher could add to his laurels here in the $125,000 Display, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds here Nov. 15.

Winter Whiskey also is a candidate for the Display but has another option in the $125,000 Kingarvie, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to Ontario-sired runners here closing day, Nov. 30.

One for Rose has Sovereign wrapped up

One for Rose all but guaranteed herself a Sovereign Award as the top older filly or mare when she won Saturday's Grade 3, 1 1/4-mile Maple Leaf under jockey Emile Ramsammy. It was her second stakes win of the year.

Trained by Sid Attard, One for Rose also romped in the 1 1/16-mile Algoma, a yearling sales stakes, and was a close second in the seven-furlong Kamar for Canadian-breds.

Her 2003 record now stands at 5 wins and 2 seconds from 9 starts, and earnings of $394,477.

"Her only two bad races were on the grass," said Attard.

One for Rose, a 4-year-old Ontario-bred, had been claimed from her debut here last October for $40,000 and has become the best runner for the Tucci Stable of Carlo and Lou Tucci.

Attard said the Tuccis, who are longtime clients, play an active role in identifying potential claims.

Another of their successes in that vein is Florida Recount, who has earned $262,038 since being claimed for $50,000 in September 2002.

Florida Recount worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 last Saturday and is heading for the Grade 3, $150,000 Woodbine Slots Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward this Saturday.

A 4-year-old gelding, Florida Recount was a game winner in an optional claiming/third- level allowance race here Oct. 8, his first start in over three months.

Meanwhile, One for Rose could run once more before heading home for the winter. She is nominated for the Grade 3, $150,000 Bessarabian, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares here Nov. 16.