04/13/2005 11:00PM

Chris's Bad Boy star of opening day

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Chris's Bad Boy, Woodbine's six-furlong track-record holder, will try to get a new meeting off to a fast start in Saturday's outstanding opening-day feature, the $138,875 Jacques Cartier Stakes.

The 167-day meet, which has an average overnight purse distribution of $390,000, runs through Dec. 11. Among the meeting's highlights are the $1 million Queen's Plate on June 26 and the $1 million Atto Mile on Sept. 18. Canada's richest race, the $2 million Pattison Canadian International, heads the blockbuster Oct. 23 card, which will also feature the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes.

Racing will be conducted on Saturdays and Sundays the first two weeks of the meeting. Fridays will be added beginning April 29, and racing on Wednesdays and Thursdays will commence the following week.

For the first time in several years, pick seven wagering will be offered at the meeting. By year's end, horseplayers might be able to bet directly into United States pools because of legislation passed last fall that eliminated a 30 percent withholding tax.

Wireless wagering on hand-held devices is expected to begin this summer, which figures to bolster the live handle at Woodbine.

Chris's Bad Boy, a former claimer trained by Vito Armata, blossomed here in the fall of 2003, when he set the six-furlong track record of 1:08.05 seconds while winning the Kennedy Road Stakes with a 114 Beyer Speed Figure.

Chris's Bad Boy, a distant third in the 2004 Sovereign Award voting as champion sprinter, romped as the favorite in the 2004 Jacques Cartier. He also won two classified allowances last year, which boosted his earnings to $786,518.

Armata pronounced Chris's Bad Boy ready to rumble after the 8-year-old breezed five-eighths in a bullet 1:00 over a tiring training track on April 6.

"He's been working very well," Armata said. "He wasn't crazy about the track in his last work, but he still went in a minute. He's a year older, but I think he's better this year. He's nice and sound. I hope I can reach $1 million with him."

The six-furlong Jacques Cartier has attracted two Canadian horses of the year, Wando and Wake at Noon.

Wando, the 2003 Canadian Triple Crown winner, became a successful dirt sprinter last fall after trainer Mike Keogh fitted him with blinkers.

Wando met some formidable opposition during his lackluster two-race winter campaign at Gulfstream. He was fourth behind Saratoga County in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap, then sixth behind Sir Shackleton in a one-mile optional claimer.

"I don't think he handled that track very well," Keogh said. "He seemed to be fighting it both times he ran. Obviously, the competition was very tough, too. To me, his second race was a throwout. Wake at Noon hit him at the start, and then he got buried down on the fence, which wasn't the place to be at Gulfstream."

Keogh is using the Jacques Cartier as a stepping-stone for Wando.

"Three-quarters isn't really his best trip, but I'm trying to get him a graded stakes win in the United States this year," Keogh said. "We're using this as a bridge to races later on down the road."

Wake at Noon, the 2002 Horse of the Year, is winless in eight starts since returning from stud duty in 2004. After running 11th behind Wando in a Feb. 3 optional claimer, he was a close second in an allowance at Tampa, then trailed the field most recently in a stakes at Tampa.

Trainer Abraham Katryan was tickled with Wake at Noon's five-furlong drill in 59 seconds last Sunday. It was the fastest of 19 moves at the distance.

"He worked really good the other day," Katryan said. "We should be ready to go."

Twisted Wit, second to Wando last November in the seven-furlong Mt. Sassafras Stakes, has prepped encouragingly for three-time Sovereign Award-winning Bob Tiller.

"I'm looking for a decent race from him," Tiller said. "He's in good order."

Others entered in the nine-horse field are underachiever Ministers Wild Cat and Judiths Wild Rush, who had a productive winter stint at Gulfstream.

The Jacques Cartier is the sixth race on the 10-race card, part of which will be broadcast on Toronto 1 from 2-4 p.m.

At a glance

RACING SCHEDULE: 167 days; Saturday through Dec. 11. Saturdays and Sundays; Fridays beginning April 29, Wednesdays beginning May 4, and Thursdays beginning May 5; holiday Mondays May 23, Aug. 1, Sept. 5, and Oct. 10. No racing on Thursdays following holiday Mondays.

HIGHLIGHTS:

DateEventPurse
June 12Labatt Woodbine Oaks$500,000
June 26Queen's Plate1,000,000
Aug. 7Breeders' Stakes500,000
Sept. 18Atto Mile1,000,000
Oct. 23Canadian International2,000,000
Oct. 23E.P. Taylor Stakes1,000,000
Oct. 23Nearctic500,000

POST TIME: 12:55 p.m. Eastern, except Wednesdays, 6:45 p.m.

ADMISSIONS: general, free; Finish Line Bar, $4; Champions, $5

PARKING: General, free; valet, $8

SLOTS: 1,700 machines, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

LOCATION: Highway 27 and Rexdale Boulevard, Etobicoke, Ont.

PHONE: (416) 675-7223

INTERNET: woodbineentertainment.com.