11/22/2006 1:00AM

Cotey's stakes hopes rest with 'Angel'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Owner-trainer Dave Cotey will be the first to admit that the 2006 racing season has not been one of his more memorable campaigns.

"We had a so-so start, then went downhill from there," said Cotey, 58, who races under the nom du course Dominion Blood-stock and has a majority interest in all of his stock.

"Some horses didn't pan out, some got hurt, but it wasn't so bad," he said. "We always manage to scratch our way through; we are over the $1 million mark. We're finishing up all right. We still have 20-some horses to start."

Included in that number is Angel of the House, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old gelding who will be looking to give the Cotey barn its first stakes win of the season here in Saturday's $125,000 Display.

Angel of the House will be seeking his second victory in the 1 1/16-mile Display after graduating at one mile over yielding going on Oct. 27 in what turned out to be the last turf race of the meeting.

"I've liked him all along," said Cotey, who purchased Angel of the House for $3,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October sale and owns him in partnership with Derek Ball, Hugh Galbraith, and Gregg Peacock. "He's a pretty sound horse, and he's always been training nice. He's turned out to be a handy little horse."

After finishing a closing fifth at six furlongs on turf in his debut, Angel of the House ran well in a pair of mile and 70-yard races before making his stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile Grey.

In the Grade 3 Grey, Angel of the House attempted to rally up the rail but wound up seventh, beaten 5 1/4 lengths by winner Skip Code, who went on to run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

"He ran into some difficulty coming into the stretch," said Cotey. "He made his move, but had to stop cold. He'd never have beaten the winner, but he would have been in the first five, that's for sure."

While Angel on the House's subsequent start and only win came on turf, Cotey believes that distance, not surface, is the key.

"He handles the grass fine, and he handles Polytrack just fine," said Cotey. "He just wants to go a route of ground."

Apprentice gets second stakes mount

Angel of the House will be ridden for the first time by apprentice jockey Tyler Pizarro, who has had some success for Cotey recently and will be competing in just his second stakes race.

Pizarro, 20, will replace Angel of the House's regular rider, Constant Montpellier, who has been sidelined with a concussion since a jockeys' room altercation with Patrick Husbands here Nov. 11.

Pizarro, who began his career in late August and rode his first winner in September, will not be allowed to claim his apprentice allowance in the stakes race, but he gets Cotey's vote of confidence.

"He hasn't done anything bad for me," said Cotey. "It's horse racing, not jockey racing. He won for me with Yah Tee."

Pizarro was in the irons last Sunday when Angel of the House worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 in preparation for the Display, which drew a field of nine.

Two maiden winners to run back soon

Yah Tee, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old gelding, won his maiden while in for a $60,000 claiming price at seven furlongs here last Saturday.

Another Kentucky-bred 2-year-old, Strike Impact, also won his maiden for Cotey this month, scoring at seven furlongs on Nov. 4.

Strike Impact, who came back to finish a closing second in a first-level allowance here last Saturday, was nominated to the Display.

"If I had another week, I would have run him back," said Cotey. "I'm dying to run him two turns."

Both Strike Impact and Yah Tee are slated to run in allowance races before the meeting winds up Dec. 10.

Barbeau Ruckus, 7, done for year

Barbeau Ruckus, the 7-year-old gelding who went over the $1 million mark in earnings this year, will not see action again this season.

"He's all right," said George Newland, who took over as the trainer of Barbeau Ruckus this winter for owner Thayalan Thavamalar. "He didn't come out of his last race 100 percent. He's an old guy, and you have to back down a little bit sometime."

Barbeau Ruckus, an Ontario-bred who spent his first five campaigns under trainer Ross Armata, saw action just four times in 2006 but won both the Steady Growth and the Elgin and finished third in the Grade 3 Seagram.

All three of those stakes were run at 1 1/16 miles, with the Steady Growth for Ontario-sired runners and the Elgin a yearling sales stakes.

Barbeau Ruckus will winter at Silver Duck Farm and is scheduled to return to the races next spring.

"He'll be back in early," said Newland.

Two sire stakes still to come

There are two Ontario Sire Stakes remaining on this year's schedule, with the $125,000 Kingarvie set for Dec. 2 and the $125,000 Sir Barton for Dec. 3.

The Kingarvie, which is for 2-year-olds, and the Sir Barton, for 3-year-olds and upward, both will be run at 1 1/16 miles.