10/03/2005 12:00AM

A Bit O'Gold may run if International cast is soft


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A Bit O'Gold moved back to the top of the local turf class Sunday with his neck score under Jono Jones in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Handicap at Woodbine.

"I thought he ran a very gutsy race," said Catherine Day Phillips, who trains A Bit O'Gold for The Two Bit Racing Stable.

"It was a very, very good ride by Jono and a tremendous performance by A Bit O'Gold."

Despite her words of praise for A Bit O'Gold, Day Phillips isn't about to call out the brass band for the Grade 1 Canadian International here Oct. 23.

"I don't want to throw him to the wolves," said Day Phillips. "It wouldn't seem fair; he has been so good to us. But if it looks like it's going to be a manageable field, then I think we will give it a shot."

A Bit O'Gold, a 4-year-old gelding, won the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre over 1 3/8 miles of turf here Sept. 5 and again was successful over that distance in the Sky Classic.

In the interim, A Bit O'Gold had finished third in the Grade 2 Niagara behind Revved Up and Strut the Stage, who ended second and fifth in the Sky Classic.

The 1 1/2-mile Canadian International offers a record purse of $2 million this year and will be run just six days prior to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont.

"That's basically what we had been thinking during the summertime," said Day Phillips of running in the International.

The Day Phillips barn is slated to see action on two fronts this Saturday with Jambalaya on the road for Belmont's Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap and Invitational at home for the Carotene.

Both the $300,000 Jamaica, for 3-year-olds, and the $150,000 Carotene, for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies, are 1 1/8-mile turf races.

Jones, the regular rider for both horses, will pilot Invitational. John Velazquez picks up the mount on Jambalaya.

Knights Templar gets big Beyer

Knights Templar earned herself a possible shot at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after demolishing her opposition here in last Saturday's Grade 3 Mazarine.

With Jim McAleney in the irons for the first time, Knights Templar quickly assumed command and was never seriously threatened while pulling away through the stretch for a 13 1/4-length victory. Her Beyer Speed Figure of 93 is easily the highest earned by a 2-year-old in Canada this season.

"She worked exceptionally the other morning," said Danny Vella, who trains Knights Templar and is part of the Clover IV Stable which owns the filly in partnership with Krista Seltzer. "I thought if she would run back to that, she would win. But, you would never expect a horse to do what she did. I was pleasantly surprised at that part, for sure.

Knights Templar, a Florida-bred, was winning her second stakes in the Mazarine, having captured the Ontario Debutante over six furlongs here Sept. 11 before finishing eighth in the Grade 3 Natalma over one mile of turf.

"Our plans are to run her one more time out of town if we can find a good spot, and then put her away for the year," said Vella. "You would have to consider New York, of course, and see if you would belong."

The 1 1/16-mile Mazarine was run around two turns while the Juvenile Fillies will be a one-turn race at the same distance.

Mister Coop set for overnight stakes

Mister Coop, also a winner of two stakes for Vella this season, is on target for Saturday's $75,000 Mt. Sassafras, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds and upward.

The Mt. Sassafras, an overnight stakes and not part of the guaranteed stakes schedule, attracted 15 nominees.

Mister Coop, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Syd Cooper, defeated Ontario-sired opponents in the seven-furlong Overskate last time out.

'Shillelagh' covers supplemental fee

Shillelagh Slew, a 2-year-old colt trained by Mike DePaulo, paid his way into the Oct. 16 Cup and Saucer with his maiden victory here Sunday.

The $250,000 Cup and Saucer is a 1 1/16-mile turf race for Canadian-breds and Shillelagh Slew was supplemented to the race at a cost of $5,000.

Owned by David James, Shillelagh Slew had finished third over seven furlongs of turf in his opener and won over the same distance on the main track.

"He has very good action, this horse," said DePaulo. "I think he would run on anything. He's green; he's still learning. I think long is his thing, the farther, the better."

In the meantime, DePaulo is looking forward to running Kissed by a Prince in Monday's $125,000 Classy 'n Smart, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares.

Kissed by a Prince, owned by Heather Landymore, breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:05 on the training track Monday under regular rider Dino Luciani.

Two horses break down

Bay Sweetie Babe, expected to be a leading contender in the Classy n'Smart, suffered a fatal breakdown when working over the training track here Sunday.

A 4-year-old filly owned by Raymond Kong and trained by Danny O'Callaghan, Bay Sweetie Babe was a multiple stakes-placed winner of 5 of 13 starts and $315,811.

Saint Etienne, who had finished a close second in the Grade 3 Royal North Handicap before winning two allowance races here after relocating from England, had to be euthanized after breaking down during the running of Sunday's ninth race.

An Irish-bred 4-year-old filly owned by Gary Chong and recently based with trainer Edward Freeman at Fort Erie, Saint Etienne won 4 of 14 starts and $131,055.