10/14/2005 12:00AM

Cold barn counts on Golf Trip


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Not all that much has gone right here this year for Mike Mareina, the private trainer for Kuehne Racing.

But Mareina could have found his ace in the hole with Golf Trip, who is a strong contender in the field of 13 Canadian-bred 2-year-olds for Sunday's $250,000 Cup and Saucer, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes at Woodbine.

"It has been a rough meet on us," acknowledged Mareina, who had saddled 5 winners from his first 51 starters at the meeting. "But I'm very pleased with where I am coming to this race."

Golf Trip, a colt by Woodman out of Miami Vacation, is a half-brother to Free Vacation, the filly who defeated males here in the 1999 Breeders' over 1 1/2 miles of turf.

And, with the Cup and Saucer in mind from the beginning, Mareina sent out Golf Trip in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden turf race here Aug. 7.

"I knew it was too short," said Mareina, who watched Golf Trip close to finish fourth despite a troubled trip. "He was bumped and blocked on the rail, and came out of the race with a pulled muscle."

Although Mareina was advised that Golf Trip would need only a week or two off, he decided it would be better to err on the side of caution.

"I wanted to give him plenty of time, since we were pointing for the Cup and Saucer," said Mareina. "If we ran him back, and he pulled it again, we would have been in trouble."

But while Golf Trip was taking it easy through the remainder of August, Mareina faced another decision. The colt had not been kept eligible for the Cup and Saucer, and a supplementary nomination fee of $5,000 was due Sept. 1.

"I thought it was worth taking the gamble," said Mareina.

When Golf Trip did resurface, in a first-level allowance race over one mile of turf here Oct. 2, he justified his trainer's faith.

Making his first start in eight weeks, Golf Trip again encountered trouble but finished a closing second to Santiago Star, a far more experienced English import.

"He had a rough trip, but if you felt a horse needed a race that would give him an education, that was it," said Mareina. "That race was basically to get him fit, and he overachieved."

"He put himself up in the race real well, and finished real willingly. He didn't act like he was short; he galloped out strong," Mareina added. "I don't think you can get much fitter."

German filly ships in for E.P. Taylor

Iota, a 3-year-old filly bred and trained in Germany, checked in late Thursday evening for the Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes here Oct. 23, Canadian International Day.

Paul Harley, racing manager for the Gestut Schlenderhan of owner Baroness Karin Von Ullman, is making his second trip here for the 1 1/4-mile E.P. Taylor after watching Walzerkoenigin finish a troubled fifth in 2003.

The E.P. Taylor was the last career start for Walzerkoenigin, who was sent to Kentucky to be bred. She now has a yearling filly by Rahy and is in foal to Dynaformer.

Harley said Walzerkoenigin was scheduled to return next month to Gestut Schlenderhan, a historic racing and breeding operation in the Cologne area which currently has 70 horses of racing age plus 40 yearlings in training.

"When I came here with Walzerkoenigin, I promised myself I would come back." said Harley. "I like this race."

Iota began her career in her homeland last April and won her first three starts, including the Group 3 trial for the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) at Cologne and the Group 1 Preis der Diana at Hamburg. Both races were run over 1 3/8 miles onyielding turf.

But in her last outing, the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks over 1 1/2 miles of turf at York on Aug. 17, Iota weakened in the closing stages to finish fifth.

"She didn't get the trip, but she didn't get a good ride, either," said Harley. "She made the running, and was six lengths clear 1,000 meters out. She hit a wall 300 meters out."

Iota was slated to make a subsequent start in the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp on Oct. 2.

"She was a non-runner; she didn't load," said Harley. "She got down to the start, I don't know what got into her head. They couldn't get her near the stalls. She was 10 meters from the stalls, and she reared up and fell back. They had to withdraw her."

Harley said Iota emerged unscathed and has had no problems in subsequent gate schooling.

Bear Character Belmont-bound

Bear Character, winner of the seven-furlong Swynford in his local debut on Sept. 25, has been pre-entered in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Oct. 29, according to trainer Dale Greenwood.

A Kentucky-bred gelding, Bear Character also won the six-furlong Edmonton Juvenile at Northlands Park, where he made his first four career starts before shipping east with Greenwood.

Friday, Bear Character breezed five furlongs on the training track in 1:02 under Jim McAleney, who was aboard for the Swynford and has the call for the B.C. Juvenile.

Bear Character, who has no Breeders' Cup points, may have trouble cracking the lineup if the Juvenile is oversubscribed but still would ship to Belmont for the Grade 3, $100,000 Nashua, a one-mile race on Oct. 28.

Stevens gets Juvenile mount on Knights Templar

Trainer Danny Vella said he has pre-entered Knights Templar for the BC Juvenile Fillies, and has given the mount to Gary Stevens.

Knights Templar, who races for the Clover IV Stable and Krista Seltzer, is coming off a front-running 13 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Mazarine here Oct. 1.