09/10/2009 12:00AM

Bogue Chitto earns stakes shot

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Michael Burns
Trainer Steve Owens hopes Koonunga Hill can settle behind the speed in the La Prevoyante.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Bogue Chitto didn't make it to the races until last November, when he was 4. But he certainly has been making up for lost time and recorded his third straight victory here at Woodbine on Wednesday night in second-level optional $80,000 claiming race over six furlongs on turf.

"He's a really competitive horse, and he loves to win," said Ian Howard, who trains Bogue Chitto for owner Luis de Hechavarria. "Not having run at 2 and 3, having missed all that wear and tear, is helping him now. He's a pretty sound horse; his tendons have been his one big issue."

Those tendon troubles kept Bogue Chitto on the sidelines in Florida at 2 and he came up to Howard the following season.

"We thought he could really run, but his tendons started acting up again," said Howard. "Luis gave him a year off, and he came back up last year."

When Bogue Chitto finally made it to the post last Nov. 7, he showed early speed before weakening to finish third when in for a $37,500 tag at six furlongs.

"He wasn't really ready to run. He was about three works away," said Howard. "But we were running out of time. Inexperienced as he was, he ran pretty well. He definitely got tired."

In his second start under the same terms, on Dec. 5, Bogue Chitto was beaten three-quarters of a length as the runner-up.

"We took the blinkers off," said Howard. "He ducked out on the turn, and came back on. He probably could have won."

After wintering in Ontario for the first time, Bogue Chitto won in his return to action on May 9, stalking the pace en route to a three-quarter-length victory in a $30,000 maiden claimer.

And, since finishing second in back-to-back claiming races for $40,000 nonwinners of two, Bogue Chitto has been marching up the ladder.

"We decided to stop fooling around with a tag," said Howard, who sent out Bogue Chitto to run through his first two allowance conditions over six furlongs of Polytrack before trying turf for the first time on Wednesday.

"I didn't really want to run him on grass," said Howard, who had never worked Bogue Chitto on the turf training course because of his tendon history. "But when his Polytrack race didn't go, I decided we might as well, because it would give him more opportunities."

Bogue Chitto passed his turf test with flying colors under Gerry Olguin, who has been aboard for each of his eight starts. Finishing second and third were stakes-caliber runners Atticus Kristy and Timely Advice.

"At the three-eighths pole I thought we were in trouble," said Howard. "But then he kicked in, and ran by them like it wasn't a big deal. Then he started lugging in. I think maybe it was because of being close to the grandstand."

Bogue Chitto is slated to make his stakes debut in his next outing, which could come in either the Sept. 30 King Corrie or the Oct. 17 Nearctic.

The $100,000 King Corrie is a six-furlong overnight stakes on the main track while the Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic goes over six furlongs on turf.

Resentless targets Princess Elizabeth

Howard also has a very nice 2-year-old filly prospect in Resentless.

Resentless has raced twice, finishing third over 5 1/2 furlongs before recording an impressive front-running win at seven furlongs with both starts coming in Ontario-sired company.

"Her last race was impressive, and she came out of it good," said Howard. "I think she'll go two turns. When she was galloping out, she didn't want to be pulled up."

The $250,000 Princess Elizabeth, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies here Oct. 31, is a major goal for Resentless.

"I think she's good enough to compete in open races, too," said Howard. "She's one of the most talented horses I've seen here in the mornings; she does it so easily. I think she could be a really good horse."

Koonunga Hill better when she can rate

On the corresponding weekend last September, Koonunga Hill finished a close third in the Grade 3 Natalma, an open one-mile turf race for 2-year-olds fillies. Prior to that, Koonunga Hill had become a stakes winner in the Ice Water over seven furlongs of turf here Aug. 24.

And while she has failed to revisit the winner's circle since then, her trainer, Steve Owens, likes Koonunga Hill's chances in Saturday's $125,000 La Prevoyante.

The La Prevoyante, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, will be Koonunga Hill's fifth start of the season.

"She's come to the race in good order," said Owens.

Koonunga Hill began her current campaign with a fifth-place finish in the open Star Shoot at six furlongs and then ended a close second in the restricted Lady Angela at seven furlongs.

Those races constituted Koonunga Hill's preparation for the Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred fillies on June 7. She led the way through the opening six furlongs and faltered to a last-place finish.

"Unfortunately, she got too headstrong in the Oaks," said Owens. "Stretching out, she wanted to be on the lead. That wasn't what we were looking for. After that we backed off on her, to get her ready for an Ontario-sired program."

Koonunga Hill returned to action in the July 22 Passing Mood but tired to finish fifth in that seven-furlong turf race.

"She got too excited, and took off," said Owens.

Shortening up to five furlongs on the turf and facing older Ontario-sired fillies and mares in Fort Erie's Rainbow Connection, Koonunga Hill lay off the pace and closing willingly to finish second.

"That was a perfect spot," said Owens. "There were some faster horses than her, and that got her to settle behind horses. It looks like there's lots of speed in this race, and hopefully she can settle here too."

Koonunga Hill tuned up for the La Prevoyante with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 last Saturday under jockey Tyler Pizarro, who will ride her for the first time in the La Prevoyante.