08/05/2009 11:00PM

Carem Crescent tries stakes in Duchess

Michael Burns
Drunken Love (center) wins the $126,200 Shepperton Stakes at Woodbine on Wednesday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Malcolm Pierce will be at Arlington Park on Saturday to saddle Points of Grace for the Grade 1, $750,000 Beverly D.

But Pierce also will be keeping close tabs on the home front, with Carem Crescent, a homebred he trains for Eugene and Laura Melnyk, set to make her stakes debut in the seven-furlong Duchess for 3-year-old fillies.

"She's going to have to step it up a little bit, but she's really doing good right now," Pierce said. "She's sure acting like a pretty nice filly."

Carem Crescent, unstarted at 2, has done nothing but good in her two races since checking into the Pierce barn in April.

After winning her maiden in impressive fashion on June 6, coming from just off the pace to score by three lengths at six furlongs, Carem Crescent came back four weeks later for a 5 3/4-length romp in a 6 1/2-furlong first-level allowance for fillies and mares.

Carem Crescent earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 80 for her debut and a 90 for her second start. The 90 is tops in the Duchess field.

"She won her two starts fairly easily," Pierce said. "I'm hoping she just keeps carrying on."

Last Saturday, Carem Crescent tuned up for the Duchess by breezing five furlongs in a bullet 59.20 seconds with Sally Pierce, the trainer's wife and assistant, in the irons.

"It was a very good work," said Pierce, who sent out Points of Grace to breeze five furlongs in the same time while working just off Carem Crescent.

"They weren't really working in company," Pierce said. "They were both going evenly."

Drunken Love on a roll after claim

The winner's circle was overflowing with good cheer here Wednesday evening as members of the Tallyho Racing syndicate, along with assorted family and friends, greeted Drunken Love following his victory in the $126,200 Shepperton.

Drunken Love, a 4-year-old gelding, was claimed for $62,500 here June 21 and was recording his second stakes win in as many starts for trainer Norm McKnight in the Shepperton, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up.

On July 12, Drunken Love debuted for his new barn with a head score in the $50,000 Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial over five furlongs on turf at Fort Erie.

The first prize there was $30,000, and the Shepperton tally added $75,000 to Drunken Love's bankroll. Gerry Olguin was aboard on both occasions.

And the party may not be over as Drunken Love will now point to the $125,000 Kenora, a six-furlong yearling sales stakes for 3-year-olds and up here Sept. 7.

"I couldn't be happier," said McKnight, the morning after Drunken Love's Shepperton success. "We claimed him with three stakes in mind. We thought if we could get a piece of a couple of them, we'd be in good shape."

McKnight credits Drunken Love's recent roll to a less aggressive early approach.

"We benefited by watching his earlier races," McKnight said. "They always sent him. Our game plan was that if he'd relax, he might be better sitting off the speed rather than being the speed.

"Everything's worked out well. He's had some speed to run at and he's been very manageable."

McKnight eyes yearling sales stakes

McKnight could have two other yearling sales stakes starters in Boadini, a 2-year-old colt who would run in the seven-furlong Simcoe, and My Imperial Dancer, a 7-year-old gelding who is aiming for the Halton, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

First up for Boadini, however, will be Sunday's $150,000 Vandal, a six-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

"We were on the fence to see if we took a shot in the Vandal or tried to win a maiden race," McKnight said. "He's in good shape right now, so we'll take a shot."

Boadini has finished second in each of his two starts, which came in an open maiden race over 4 1/2 furlongs and six furlongs on turf.

"The first time, he didn't break well and the race was too short for him," McKnight said. "The last time, he had a stop-and-go trip behind the leaders."

My Imperial Dancer, who was beaten a nose as the runner-up in the Halton last Sept. 1, was making his first start since then when winning a six-furlong turf race with a $40,000 claiming tag here last Friday.

My Imperial Dancer became a stakes winner in the 2007 Halton but saw action just four times last season and has made just 22 starts in total.

"We had to stop on him last year because of issues," McKnight said. "He raced really well the other day, and we kind of had the Halton in the back of our minds.

"We'll just sit and wait for that race now. As long as he breezes well and comes back healthy, we'll take a shot."

Former OJC chairman Baker dies at 89

Lt. Col. Charles "Bud" Baker, a former chairman of the board of the Ontario Jockey Club (now Woodbine Entertainment Group), died at age 89 on Tuesday at his Norcliffe Farm in nearby King City.

Baker, who was elected as a director of the OJC in 1967, was appointed chairman of the board in 1973 and held that position until the early 1990s. He was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, in the builders category, in 1993.

Baker, who became involved with Thoroughbred racing in 1961, also made his mark on the racetrack, campaigning under the nom-du-course Norcliffe Stable and winning the 1976 Queen's Plate with Norcliffe.

Trained by Roger Attfield, Norcliffe won a total of nine stakes and took home Sovereign Awards as Canada's Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male in 1976 and champion older horse in 1977. He also was a success at stud, with his progeny including the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Groovy and Rockcliffe, who was a stakes winner for Baker.

Baker forged a very successful career as the founder of two major advertising businesses after serving the Canadian Army overseas as a member of the Governor General's Horse Guards in World War II.

He also was a member of Canada's International Equestrian Team from 1948 through 1960, winning a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics and a gold medal at the 1959 Pan American Games.

A graveside service was to be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday at Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery, with a reception to follow at 2 p.m. at Norcliffe Farm, 13700 Dufferin Street, in King City.