04/02/2008 11:00PM

Cup berths add zing to meet's turf stakes


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine has not been prominent on the Breeders' Cup scene since it hosted the event in 1996, but that could change when the track stages six Win and You're In turf races during its 2008 meeting, which begins with a 10-race card Saturday.

Horses who are victorious in Win and You're In races earn an automatic berth into the corresponding event at the Breeders' Cup, which will be contested Oct. 24 and 25 at Santa Anita. The first local Win and You're In race is the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 7. With its winner gaining entry into the BC Mile, the Woodbine Mile is the feature on a day that also includes the $750,000 Northern Dancer, a Grade 1 stakes that was previously run in July.

Canada's richest race, the $2 million Canadian International, and the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes were both moved up two weeks this year, to Oct. 4, for inclusion in the Win and You're In program. The International winner gets a spot reserved in the BC Turf, while the Taylor offers entry to the Filly and Mare Turf. The International card includes two other stakes in the series, the Grade 2 Nearctic (BC Turf Sprint) and the Grade 3 Summer (Juvenile Turf). All four races will be shown live by ESPN.

The other Win and You're In event is the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes on Sept. 14, linked to the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The 149th running of the $1 million Queen's Plate, North America's oldest continuously run stakes, will be run June 22. The $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, which was won last year by the 2007 Canadian Horse of the Year, Sealy Hill, is scheduled for June 8.

The 167-day meeting runs through Dec. 7 and will have an average daily purse distribution of about $407,185, thanks in part to Woodbine's 1,950 slot machines. The 103 stakes at the meeting are worth just over $22 million.

Following opening weekend, Fridays will be added to the schedule April 11. Wednesday racing commences in May, and Thursdays begin in June. Thursdays before a holiday weekend will be dark.

The post time for all days except Wednesdays is 1:10 p.m. Eastern. Wednesday evening cards will begin at 6:45 p.m.

The pick seven, which previously began on the second race, will now encompass the last seven races on a card. A second pick four will be added on cards with 10 or more races.

Kid Sparkle could prove tough to catch in the opening-day feature, the $95,000 La Voyageuse Stakes. The five-furlong dash for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies is named after Canada's champion older female of 1979.

Kid Sparkle graduated in a five-furlong maiden special second time out last summer, and then wound up fourth in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance. She led until the eighth pole before fading to second in the six-furlong Fanfreluche Stakes in October, for which she garnered a Beyer Speed Figure of 88.

Kid Sparkle has been idle since ending up second as the favorite in a Nov. 16 allowance won by Salomea, who subsequently ran third in an Oaklawn Park allowance.

Trainer Paul Attard said Kid Sparkle was given a break before she went back into training on a Florida farm Feb. 1, and she was shipped to his Woodbine barn March 1.

"We wanted to have her nice and ready for the five-furlong races early in the year," Attard said.

Attard believes Kid Sparkle might be a little less speed-crazy this year.

"I think she's matured a bit this year," said Attard. "I think she will be able to stretch out to six furlongs, unlike last year."

Executrix is one of two Nick-Gonzalez-trained stakes winners in the field, along with Shilla, who rallied strongly to win the Fanfreluche with a Beyer Figure of 94.