06/25/2002 11:00PM

Catch the Ring faces the boys


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mark Frostad has had trouble finding spots this year for Catch the Ring, a 5-year-old mare he trains for Sam-Son Farm.

Catch the Ring didn't get into a suitable race at Keeneland, where she was working well, and returned to Woodbine in early May. She did not make her 2002 bow until June 9, finishing a closing third as the odds-on favorite among six fillies and mares in the Ontario Matron.

Catch the Ring will try a different avenue here Monday, when she is slated to face males in the $200,000 Dominion Day Handicap.

"I'm going to be looking at some races in the States," said Catch the Ring's trainer, Mark Frostad on Wednesday. "So she'll need another start anyway."

But Catch the Ring is not racing Monday merely as a matter of convenience. She has the credentials to take home the top prize in the Grade 3 feature over 1 1/4 miles.

"A mile and a quarter's her thing," said Frostad. "Hopefully, there's going to be some pace."

Catch the Ring turned in one of her best efforts at 1 1/4 miles here last fall, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for winning the Grade 3 Maple Leaf. She also ran well in her lone turf outing at the distance, finishing second in the Wonder Where during her Sovereign Award-winning 3-year-old campaign.

The Dominion Day would not mark the first time Catch the Ring has faced the boys, as she finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup here last August, behind the sharp invader Trajectory and Exciting Story, who had won Belmont's Grade 1 Met Mile two starts earlier.

Ford Every Stream still finding dream

Frostad described the performance of Ford Every Stream in last Sunday's Queen's Plate as "mediocre." Ford Every Stream finished fourth as the favorite.

But Frostad believes the colt deserves another chance in Fort Erie's July 21 Prince of Wales, the 1 3/16-mile race that is the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

"I thought the track [for the Plate] had dried out; it was very cuppy," said Frostad. "They didn't put enough water on it.

"Everybody's knocking the horses because of the time, but it was because of the track."

The final time of the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, won by T J's Lucky Moon, was 2:06.88, the slowest since Golden Choice was clocked in 2:07.20 for his victory over a slow surface in 1986.

Frostad has another Prince of Wales possibility in Soaring Free, who finished second as the heavy favorite in his second career start in an entry-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles here Plate Day.

"He was a little short," said Frostad. "He needed that race."

Frostad said the Canadian Triple Crown event that could bring out the best in the Sam-Son 3-year-old crop is the Breeders', the 1 1/2-mile turf race that concludes the series here Aug. 10.

"I think I've got a bunch of Breeders' horses," said Frostad.

Sam-Son's Portcullis showed himself to be a serious Breeders' prospect by winning the Charlie Barley over one mile of turf on the Plate undercard, and is slated to make his next start over 1 1/8 miles of grass in the July 13 Toronto Cup.

Frostad also expects Mountain Beacon, who finished 12th of 13 in the Plate, to improve dramatically with a switch to grass and sees turf potential in Soaring Free and Ford Every Stream as well.

Tough day for Classic Mike camp

Trainer Reade Baker had a disappointing day Saturday as he watched Classic Mike finish eighth as the second favorite in the Queen's Plate and come out of the race lame.

"He hit his left front leg turning for home," said Baker here Wednesday morning. "He was lame; he had a tremendous amount of swelling around the lower tendon and suspensory.

"But he ultrasounded perfectly clean, and the swelling is gone. It looks like he'll be all right for the Prince of Wales."

Baker added that Classic Mike also was suffering from heat prostration following his Plate run.

"But I don't know how big an excuse that is," he said. "The winner was the same way, if not worse."

T J's Lucky Moon showed the effects of the heat while parading in front of the grandstand immediately after his 82-1 upset in the Plate.

Jockey Jono Jones, who had been injured in a training mishap last week but still rode Classic Mike in the Plate, also came out the Plate in less than perfect order, and subsequent X-rays revealed ligament damage in his left foot.

Jones, currently on crutches, hopes to be back in action next week.

"I'm a fast healer," he said.

Damsel or Bison City?

Tacky Affair, who breezed four furlongs in 49.60 seconds under exercise rider Sarah Cohen on a firm turf training track here Wednesday, probably will make her next appearance here in Sunday's Ontario Damsel, a 6 1/2-furlong turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

But David Bell, who trains Tacky Affair for Mike and Nick Nosowenko, has not completely ruled out the possibility of running her Monday in Fort Erie's Labatt Bison City, the 1 1/16-mile race that is the second leg of the Triple Tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Tacky Affair finished seventh in the 1 1/8-mile Labatt Woodbine Oaks, the first leg of the series, here June 8.

* Adjalah, whom Bell trains for the Beclawat Stable of Les Pereira, is one Plate entrant who will be not going on to the Wales. Adjalah finished ninth. "The heat must have got to him a little bit; he didn't really fire," said Bell. "He's okay. We're just going to give him a bit of time, then bring him back."