09/09/2004 12:00AM

Breeding can wait for El Prado Essence

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Had fate decreed otherwise, El Prado Essence could be carrying a foal by Mr. Greeley, enjoying the bucolic life of a broodmare on the farm in Kentucky.

Instead, El Prado Essence will be in the heat of competition here Saturday, when she makes just her second start of the year in the $136,500 Seaway Stakes.

El Prado Essence left Woodbine last fall, when she was 6, with the aim of making one more start before heading to the breeding shed in Kentucky. In that outing, in a Mountaineer Park allowance, she stumbled at the start and was beaten more than 26 lengths. El Prado Essence proceeded to Kentucky and the court of Mr. Greeley.

"We hadn't decided whether to keep her to breed again, or to run her through the sale there this fall," said Audre Cappuccitti, who trains El Prado Essence and is a co-owner along with her husband, Gord.

Three weeks after the assignation, Cappuccitti got the call telling her that El Prado Essence had been pronounced in foal. But the next time El Prado Essence was ultrasounded, her prospective offspring had died.

"We didn't want to be breeding her again in June, a nice filly like that," said Cappuccitti. "So, I got them to send her back to me here at the track. I figured she might just as well be here for seven months as standing in a paddock. I thought if she doesn't train, or doesn't want to run, I'd send her to the farm. But I could see she was happy in the barn."

Before long, Cappuccitti was looking for an appropriate spot for El Prado Essence.

"She was training great, doing everything right," said Cappuccitti. "I thought I could run her in a couple of money-line races and put a couple more dollars beside her name."

As a winner of four stakes, 10 races, and $800,246, El Prado Essence's options were limited. Although Cappuccitti entered her on more than one occasion, the races did not fill.

"That's why I had to put her in that prep," said Cappuccitti. "I thought she'd run well; she'd breezed well."

El Prado Essence's first start in more than eight months came in the 6 1/2-furlong Seaway prep, in which she faced the circuit's top female sprinter, Winter Garden, and fell just three-quarters of a length short as the solid runner-up.

"She ran awesome," said Cappuccitti. "At her age, to come back and run a race like that, I was really thrilled. It was a wonderful race. Winter Garden is a really nice filly. I was so pleased."

El Prado Essence will be making her fourth appearance in the Seaway, a race in which she won in 2001 and 2002 before finishing second last year.

Although Winter Garden again looms a very tough opponent, El Prado Essence could add another Seaway to her portfolio before eventually heading back to the breeding shed this winter.

"I'm pretty happy with her," said Cappuccitti. "And she's happy. That's all that matters."

Top fillies go in La Lorgnette

With the Grade 1, $1 million Atto Mile in the spotlight here one week from Sunday, the previous day's La Lorgnette Stakes is unlikely to get much exposure.

Still, the $125,000 La Lorgnette, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, could have serious divisional ramifications, as Touchnow and My Vintage Port both are scheduled to compete.

Both Touchnow and My Vintage Port ran in the Woodbine Oaks, Bison City, and Wonder Where, the three races that make up the triple tiara series for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Eye of the Sphynx won the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks on June 13, with Touchnow second and My Vintage Port third.

Touchnow captured the 1 1/16-mile Bison City at Fort Erie July 4, with Eye of the Sphynx second and My Vintage Port again third.

My Vintage Port stated her case by winning the Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles on turf here Aug. 1, with Eye of the Sphynx second and Touchnow seventh.

Trained by Ken Parsley, who also is a co-owner along with Rick Pettifer, My Vintage Port came back Sept. 1 to take the Eternal Search, a 1 1/16 mile-race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

My Vintage Port's upcoming options also include the La Prevoyante, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies here Sept. 26.

Parsley, however, said he wants My Vintage Port to be relatively fresh for the $150,000 Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies here Oct. 9.

Touchnow, meanwhile, has been pointing specifically for the La Lorgnette after her trainer, Reade Baker, and owner, George Farr, watched her finish 6 1/4 lengths back in her turf debut in the Wonder Where.

"She was bad in the gate and broke in the air, sideways," said Baker. "I've schooled her back at the gate on numerous occasions. She's doing super; she's training better than she ever was."

Nomination deadlines extended

The deadline for nominations to the Canadian International and E.P. Taylor Stakes, Grade 1 turf races that will be run here Oct. 24, has been extended to Oct. 6. The original deadline was Sept. 15.

The $1.5 million Canadian International, at 1 1/2 miles for 3-year-olds and upward, and the $750,000 E.P. Taylor, at 1 1/4 miles for fillies and mares, will be joined for the first time on the card by the $250,000 Nearctic Handicap.

The Nearctic is a Grade 2 turf race for 3-year-olds and upward at six furlongs.

Storm closes main track

Woodbine's main track was closed here Thursday morning following heavy overnight rainfall. There was no racing here Thursday following the Monday holiday program.

Only two horses were on the work tab for training track, which was rated sloppy.