05/31/2004 11:00PM

Can't say Slew Valley peaked


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Slew Valley made an auspicious local debut in last Sunday's Connaught Cup.

But after watching Slew Valley win while covering the 1 1/16 miles on turf in a quick 1:40.24, the horse's trainer, Reade Baker, considered himself lucky.

"He ran super, for a short horse," said Baker. "I think I needed to train him a lot harder than I did; he's a huge horse. He was exhausted in the winner's circle, and was still exhausted the next morning."

Baker hadn't had much time to familiarize himself with Slew Valley, having taken over as the horse's trainer from New York-based Gary Sciacca in mid-May.

Bred and owned by Jim Hindman, whose nom du course is Rich Meadow Farm, Slew Valley had run well in top company for several years but was got his first stakes win in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup.

Hindman sent Slew Valley here with an eye toward the attractive turf stakes program, and the next race in the division is the Grade 2, $300,000 King Edward Breeders' Cup on June 19.

"We'll have to see how well he comes out of this race," said Baker.

Rockin' Again eyes Plate Trial

Rockin' Again, who was making his first start for Baker and owner Earle Mack when he captured a first-level allowance at seven furlongs here May 9, is heading for Sunday's $150,000 Plate Trial.

"He's as good as he's ever going to get," said Baker. "He's in wonderful health, wonderful condition. I just don't know if he's fast enough, and he's a pretty tiny horse to be carrying all the weight."

Runners in the Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, will carry 126 pounds, which is the same impost for colts and geldings in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate.

The Queen's Plate, worth $1 million, will be run June 27.

Baker points three toward Oaks

Baker also is looking to be represented in the June 13 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, with Silver Bird, Hong Kong Dancer, and Touch Now - all of whom are eyeing that $500,000 race.

Silver Bird, a strong runner-up in the 1 1/16-mile Selene on May 23, and Hong Kong Dancer, who got her second win in as many career starts when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles May 22, both are definitely Oaks-bound.

Touch Now, a well-beaten fifth by Hong Kong Dancer in that entry-level allowance race, is more of a fringe candidate.

"She came back with some mucus when she ran the other day," said Baker. "Obviously, if she's not 100 percent, she won't run."

No Comprende likely to be retired

No Comprende, scratched from the May 24 Eclipse Handicap, has gone to the farm and his racing days may be over.

"He seemed to come up stiff on the day of the race," said James Smith, who trains No Comprende for Clarity Stable. "We sent him out for a nuclear scan."

No Comprende was found to be suffering from a type of joint disease. "He'll end up walking the next couple of months," said Smith. "He'll probably be retired."

A 6-year-old gelding who was bred in Virginia, No Comprende has started 30 times, compiling a record of 7-5-5 for earnings of $592,667. He became a stakes winner in his final outing of 2003, capturing the 1 1/16-mile Woodbine Slots Cup on Nov. 8.

"He was a nice horse to be around," said Smith. "It will be tough to fill the gap."

Copper Trail works seven furlongs

Copper Trail, a candidate for Queen's Plate, worked seven furlongs in 1:27.80 on a "good" main track here Tuesday under regular rider Na Somsanith.

"He went nice, and galloped out real strong," said Jim Day, who trains Copper Trail for Stolar Stable. "It was a useful bit of business."

Copper Trail has started just once this year, winning a third-level optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and upward over 1 1/16 miles here May 16. The gelding is slated to make his final pre-Plate appearance in the $125,000 Victoria Park, an open 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds here June 13.

Swift of Flight returns in feature

Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad have won with 8 of 21 starters at the meeting, and will be seeking another victory with Swift of Flight in Thursday's feature, a six-furlong grass allowance for fillies and mares.

Swift of Flight graduated in a seven-furlong maiden special weight event on turf here last July, but was shelved for the remainder of 2003 after finishing unplaced in a pair of stakes in August. She reappeared in a 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance at the Fair Grounds in February, in which she ended up second after racing prominently.

Swift of Flight faded to finish ninth after being steadied in her only other winter outing, in March at the Fair Grounds. She showed little while racing wide over a sloppy track last time, in a five-furlong allowance here opening day.

Swift of Flight has had a six-week break heading into Thursday's race, and has yet to misfire when coming off a layoff. Slade Callaghan retains the mount.

Rounding out the field for Thursday's third race are Sirona Gold, Cricket Wicket, Pucker, Pinwinee Whiskey, Attiki, and Gilded Nip.

Cricket Wicket, who won a six-furlong maiden dash over this course last summer, could be the main threat.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink