06/26/2008 11:00PM

Carroll pair figures tough in Bison City

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Josie Carroll holds a strong hand in Sunday's $250,000 Bison City Stakes at Woodbine when she saddles Authenicat and Victory Romance in the 1 1/16-mile route.

The Bison City is the second leg of the Canadian triple tiara, a series for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies. Ginger Brew, the dominating winner of the opening leg, the Woodbine Oaks, was narrowly beaten in last Sunday's Queen's Plate, and her absence has made the Bison City much more contentious than it would have been had she shown up.

Authenicat was second to a sharp Verdana Bold when she came off the sidelines in the open Star Shoot Stakes. She came up empty in the stretch when favored against Ontario-sired opposition in the May 24 Lady Angela Stakes and was subsequently scoped with mucus.

"She was quite sick after the Lady Angela, and she lost a little conditioning going into the Oaks," Carroll recalled.

After a three-wide stalking trip in the Oaks, Authenicat made the lead early in the stretch and then faded to finish a distant third in her first try around two turns.

Victory Romance was far back in her season opener in the six-furlong Star Shoot. She led throughout most of a 1 1/16-mile allowance May 17 before tiring to second.

Victory Romance delayed the start of the nine-furlong Oaks when she was reluctantly loaded into the gate. She rallied wide from mid-pack under Emile Ramsammy to finish second, ending up six lengths back of Ginger Brew.

"When Emile found that she was going to relax, I thought he did a good job of going with it," Carroll said. "She had been settling a lot in the mornings, but we really didn't expect her to relax that well."

Ginger Brew's trainer, Brian Lynch, entered another Stronach Stable runner, Skipping Queen, who has improved with each subsequent outing.

Skipping Queen was third when she debuted at Gulfstream and then ran second here in a seven-furlong sprint on the Polytrack. She graduated over 1 1/16 miles most recently in her first start with Lasix.

"I don't know how strong her last race was, but she won easily enough and did it in the right fashion," Lynch said. "I'm thrilled with the way she's been training leading up to this. It's a step up out of a maiden victory, but we're taking a shot."