08/04/2006 11:00PM

Count to Three taking shot to tally four in row


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Count to Three seeks her fourth consecutive win on Monday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Royal North Stakes, a six-furlong turf dash for fillies and mares.

Count to Three was campaigned over route distances last fall, but she has found her calling this year as a turf sprinter. She won the restricted Zadracarta Stakes in her next-to-last outing, and was recently victorious in the allowance prep for the Royal North.

Trainer Mark Frostad said Count to Three has matured since last year.

"She's settled down a lot," Frostad said. "She's not nearly as erratic as she was at one point. She knows what it's all about now. She's a great big, strong filly, and I always thought she'd want to go a mile and a quarter, but she's a sprinter."

The Grade 3 Royal North has been dominated by American shippers in recent years. There are several of them in the 12-horse field, including Society Hostess, Mocha Queen, and Pretty Jane.

Since coming from Ireland, Society Hostess has won two in a row for trainer Christophe Clement. She prevailed in an optional claimer at Delaware, and is coming off a neck victory in the six-furlong Elizabeth Bay Stakes at Belmont.

Mocha Queen and Pretty Jane finished first and third in the five-furlong Zenobia Empress Handicap July 2 at Churchill.

Becky Sharp, Financingavailable, Pandora's Secret, and Velvet Snow are also worth a look.

Becky Sharp ran the race of her life last time in her grass debut, taking a seven-furlong optional claimer with authority. Trainer Andrew Smith said he wasn't surprised by her prowess on turf.

"She had worked great on the turf," Smith said. "She has a beautiful strike - she just clips the daisies. I think she's much better on it."

Smith said Becky Sharp has finally put it all together this year.

"We never got her right last year," Smith explained. "Every time I worked her or ran her, she'd spike a fever, and I'd have to back off. She just wasn't 100 percent. She's been much better this year."

Financingavailable was supplemented at a cost of $3,000. She broke Woodbine's seven-furlong main-track record in her last start, and can handle either surface.

Pandora's Secret won her first stakes in the five-furlong Cool Air in May at Calder, but she never fired in either of her two subsequent outings.

Velvet Snow, who finished fourth in each of the last two runnings of the Royal North, is a prospect for the bottom of exotic wagers.