05/08/2006 12:00AM

For Carroll, two big steps forward


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last weekend's $151,200 Fury and $150,800 Queenston had added significance in the grand scheme of things here at Woodbine. The Fury, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies Sunday, was the first major local stepping-stone to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on June 11. The Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds Saturday, was the first major local prep for the $1 million Queen's Plate at 1 1/4 miles on June 25.

Trainer Josie Carroll sported the best results in the preliminaries, sending out Gumboots to win the Fury and Edenwold to a second-place finish to Atlas Shrugs in the Queenston.

Gumboots is now 2 for 2 this year and 4 for 5 in her career, with her only loss coming in the seven-furlong Glorious Song here last fall.

"Obviously, I was very pleased with Gumboots," said Carroll. "What I'm really happy about is that she started to relax. It's something she couldn't do in that race she lost here last fall. She had to take on all comers."

Gumboots had been slated to make her second start of the year in the open six-furlong Star Shoot here April 23, but when the latter portion of that card was canceled and the Star Shoot was rescheduled for April 30, Carroll elected to wait for the Fury.

"She got a lot out of this race, which is something she needed to do if she was going to go on to the Oaks," said Carroll. "We needed to get the seven-eighths into her."

Gumboots has yet to race around two turns, and Carroll must now decide whether to run Gumboots before the Oaks. The Selene, an open 1 1/16-mile race here May 21, has been the key race in recent years, with three winners and one runner-up going on to Oaks success. Going directly from the Fury to the Oaks, however, also has been a successful ploy - four Fury winners went on to win the Oaks, from 1997 through 2000.

"I really don't know what we'll do," said Carroll. "Go straight in, or go in the Selene? We'll see how she bounces out of this race, and make a plan from there."

Edenwold had a wide trip in the Queenston, but closed well and finished a neck behind Atlas Shrugs.

"I was thrilled with Edenwold's race, to see him run a tremendous race off such a long layoff." said Carroll. "You always hope with a good horse that he'll make the transition from 2 to 3."

Edenwold, Canada's champion male 2-year-old on the strength of three sprint stakes wins here last summer, underwent minor surgery in Kentucky following his fifth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Display on Nov. 26.

Carroll explained that the procedure involved removing a calcium buildup behind one of Edenwold's knees, which was causing him muscle and tendon pain.

"He was completely inactive for 90 days," said Carroll. "I rushed him to get to this race."

Edenwold's next start could come either in the Marine, an open 1 1/16-mile race here May 20, or the Plate Trial, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-breds here June 4.

"It will be one race or the other. I wouldn't run him in both," said Carroll. "I wouldn't like to see him come back in the Marine and bounce off such a huge effort. But on the other hand, if he comes out of this race good . . . "

First stakes win for Atlas Shrugs

Atlas Shrugs is now 2 for 2 since being claimed for $50,000 on the closing day of the 2005 meeting. The Woodstock was his first stakes victory.

"I was little concerned he might bounce off his first race," said trainer Reade Baker. "But he's a tough little character."

Baker said he plans to run Atlas Shrugs in the Plate Trial, which would be his first start beyond seven furlongs.

"I don't see why he wouldn't handle two turns," said Baker. "You can do anything you want with him."

Corey Fraser, who has ridden Atlas Shrugs to his two stakes wins, backs Baker's assessment.

"His running style alone should bring him two turns," said Fraser. "He knows how to relax. He does what you want him to do."

Carroll's other runner disappoints

Vibank, a second Carroll contestant in the Queenston, ended last of seven. "He was a tremendous disappointment," said Carroll. "He had no excuses, he just shut down. He didn't run his race at all. He hasn't shown any indication of anything being wrong with him. But just to make sure there's nothing we're missing, he's going for a complete bone and body scan."

Baker also had a second Queenston contestant in Hubbert's Peak, who finished fourth in his stakes debut but bucked his shins during the running. "If Hubbert's Peak hadn't bucked his shins I don't think [Atlas Shrugs] would have beat him," said Baker. "He'll be out for a couple of months."

* Bear Character, who is pointing for the Grade 3 Marine, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 for Baker here Sunday morning.

"His work was dazzling," said Baker, noting that Jim McAleney was aboard for the work and has the call for the Marine.

Bear Character, owned by Danny Dion's Bear Stable, is coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Lexington over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland.