09/22/2005 12:00AM

Coastal Fortress coming to hand

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Circumstances have conspired against Coastal Fortress thus far this year, as she got off to a late start and now has finished second in three consecutive outings.

On Saturday, Coastal Fortress will face six other 3-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette at Woodbine and could finally get lucky for her trainer, Barbara Minshall.

"She's really coming around," Minshall said. "I think she's improving every race. I'm looking for her to have a peak effort."

Coastal Fortress, a Minshall Farm homebred, became a stakes winner here last November in the South Ocean, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies.

Minshall had planned to run Coastal Fortress in the juvenile division's final stakes race, the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie, but cut short her campaign due to a suspect ankle.

Then, with that problem seeming to be a thing of the past, Coastal Fortress was about to resume training at Minshall's Florida farm in January when an older ankle chip was discovered.

"We had to look after it or she might have got into trouble later in the year," Minshall said. "She didn't get back to training until quite a bit later. Basically, I lost three months with her."

Coastal Fortress returned to the races on June 15, finishing ninth at 6 1/2 furlongs. Her three subsequent starts, all at 1 1/16 miles, have produced the three runner-up finishes.

In her last start, the Aug. 31 Eternal Search for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, Coast Fortress found herself in front through a slow pace and yielded late to Whiskey and Low.

"One of her strong points is she's game," Minshall said. "She will stay the trip, and she prefers to run at horses."

Minshall said she would have liked to test Coastal Fortress on the grass in last Saturday's La Prevoyante, a one-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

"I opted for the La Lorgnette, the non-Ontario-sired race, because it was on the dirt," Minshall said. "I had to make a decision - it was either/or. I definitely would have tried her on turf, if she had a couple of weeks in between."

Todd Kabel, who rode Coastal Fortress for the only time to date in the South Ocean, returns to the saddle for the La Lorgnette.

Roving Angel will try two turns

Roving Angel is another filly in the La Lorgnette field who was a stakes winner at 2 but has yet to visit the winner's circle this season.

Trained by Bobby Pion, Roving Angel won her first two starts here and extended her streak to three when facing fellow New York-breds in the six-furlong Finger Lakes Juvenile Fillies.

But Roving Angel has been blanked in eight subsequent starts, six of them this season, and will be trying two turns for the first time in the La Lorgnette.

"We'll try to see if she'll stretch," said Pion, who trains Roving Angel for Keith and Rachel McClelland. "She rates kindly enough. Hopefully, with her speed, she'll sit just off it.

"This is probably the best spot to try to go long with her," she said. "I can't find a 3-year-old allowance for her."

Roving Angel has competed in two open main-track sprint stakes for 3-year-old fillies, finishing behind the now-sidelined Lemon Maid when fourth in the Star Shoot and third in the Grade 3 Duchess.

In three of her other four outings, including one at Fort Erie, Roving Angel was in against older fillies and mares.

Apprentice rider Emma Wilson, who won her first stakes race with Classic Stamp here in last Sunday's Grade 2 Canadian, rides Roving Angel for the first time in the La Lorgnette.

Mister Coop takes Overskate

Mister Coop ($9) took control midway on the backstretch and never looked back, winning the seven-furlong, $125,400 Overskate Stakes over 9-2 shot Arch Hall here Wednesday night.

Mister Coop was rated just off a dawdling opening quarter in 23.32 seconds, set by favored Barbeau Ruckus, with Dave the Knave in close pursuit.

Mister Coop made a quick bid for the lead, getting the half in 45.45, and went on to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths in stakes-record time of 1:21.30.

Arch Hall closed along the rail from a stalking position, ending up 2 1/4 lengths clear of Barbeau Ruckus, the third-place finisher in the six-horse field of Ontario-sired runners.

Trainer Danny Vella said he was pleased with the ride Mister Coop got from Emile Ramsammy, who was aboard the gelding for the first time and recorded his eighth stakes victory of the meeting.

"It set up perfectly for him," Vella said. "It was a very slow early pace, and I think [Ramsammy] recognized that and made a decision. The rest is history."

Mister Coop banked $75,000 for owner RMC Stable, which increased his lifetime earnings to $573,796.

Vella said Mister Coop will likely make his next start Oct. 8 in the Mt. Sassafras, a seven-furlong stakes for Ontario-foaled runners. The $75,000 Mt. Sassafras is an overnight stakes and is not part of the guaranteed schedule.

Knights Templar targets Mazarine

Vella recorded his third stakes win of the meeting in the Overskate, having won the New Providence with Mister Coop in May and the Ontario Debutante with Knights Templar in August.

Knights Templar, who finished eighth last time out when making her turf debut in the one-mile Natalma, is scheduled to return to the main track on Oct. 2 for the $250,000 Mazarine.

The Grade 3 Mazarine is a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink