08/24/2006 12:00AM

Despite flaws, Barilko can run fast

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Unbeaten 2-year-old Barilko will try to make it three in a row in Saturday's Silver Deputy Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King is the main event, but a pair of overnight stakes also are part of Saturday's nine-race program at Woodbine.

Barilko looks for his third win in as many outings when he faces five rivals in the $100,000 Silver Deputy, a 7 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-olds.

Count to Three, owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, will be coupled with stablemate See the Wind and is the one to beat in the $75,000 Belle Geste, a seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares which attracted a field of seven.

Barilko, a Kentucky-bred who was purchased by his owner and trainer, Dave Dwyer, for $30,000 at Keeneland last September, debuted for a $50,000 claiming tag and showed breakaway speed en route to a 3 1/2-length victory over five furlongs here July 3.

"I knew he had talent but he had some issues with his legs and everything," said Dwyer. "So I took a shot, and ran him there."

Less than three weeks later, Barilko was back in the entries for the $125,000 Colin, also at five furlongs.

"I knew the first time he was about 90 percent fit," said Dwyer. "I worked him in between, and I knew he'd run better second time."

But Dwyer could not have anticipated how dramatic Barilko's improvement would be, as the gelding again broke running and never looked back while widening to a four-length victory over sloppy going.

Barilko's Beyer Speed Figure came back an 88, a 23-point improvement over his debut.

"He really impressed me," said Dwyer. "He's got a lot of heart. It will be a different task going two turns now. I think he'll relax; he sure acts like a mature horse. He does everything right."

Barilko served notice in his final tune-up for the Silver Deputy, working six furlongs in 1:13.80 here last Thursday.

In the meantime, a potential sale was scuttled when Barilko did not vet out to the satisfaction of a prospective buyer.

"He has a chip in his knee, and one in his ankle," said Dwyer. "So did Skip Away."

Constant Montpellier retains the mount on Barilko, the 122-pound highweight.

Count to Three, a 4-year-old, has developed into a top-drawer turf sprinter this year, winning the Zadracarta for Ontario-foals and the allowance prep for the Grade 3 Royal North.

In the Royal North itself, Count to Three rallied strongly to finish fourth, beaten just three-quarters of a length under Emma-Jayne Wilson.

All three races were at six furlongs.

"She had some problems as a young horse, just some minor physical things she had to grow out of," said Frostad. "She's in good order now, and I think seven furlongs will suit her better."

See the Wind, winner of the Ernie Samuel Memorial over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Fort Erie last time out, will be ridden by Todd Kabel.

The entry's opponents include Velvet Snow and Becky Sharp, both of whom also finished within hailing distance of upset winner Hide and Chic in the competitive Royal North.

Seaside Retreat goes longer vs. older

Seaside Retreat, under regular rider Patrick Husbands, will be venturing into new territory here Sunday in the Nijinsky, a 1 1/2-mile turf race.

Owned by Bill Farish Jr. and trained by Mark Casse, Seaside Retreat will be traveling beyond 1 1/4 miles for the first time and is the only 3-year-old in the field of 10 for the Nijinsky, which offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $300,000.

Seaside Retreat heads into the Nijinsky off a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, a 1 1/4-mile turf race at Colonial Downs on July 15.

"The mile and a half shouldn't bother him at all," said Casse, who had sent out Seaside Retreat to win the Charlie Barley over one mile of turf in his start prior to the Virginia Derby. "He kind of gallops along. To me, when he won the Charlie Barley, his turn of foot when Patrick asked him was tremendous.

"And, we thought with a better trip he should have won the Virginia Derby. Patrick had nowhere to go, nowhere to go - finally he broke loose and came running."

As to facing older horses, Casse said he believes that scenario is a necessary step in the grand plan that would see Seaside Retreat earn a berth in the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International over 1 1/2 miles of turf here Oct. 22.

"We're starting to run short on 3-year-old races," said Casse. "Sooner or later, we've got to go ahead and try older horses and see where we stack up.

"This will make some decisions for us. If he can't handle these horses, he's not going to have any chance in the International."

One concern Casse does express is that it has been six weeks since Seaside Retreat has raced.

"That will be his toughest challenge," said Casse. "He's not the easiest horse to train; he's a bit erratic.He kind of trains himself. Some days he decides he doesn't want to train, so he doesn't.

"And to breeze him, we have to breeze him from the gate. But his last breeze, I was very happy with him."

Racing-related poetry book unveiled

A lively group was on hand here Wednesday evening for the launch of "Ballads of the turf and other doggerels," a book authored by William Galvin.

A longtime horseman, racing official, educator, and publicist with roots in both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries, Galvin has compiled a collection of his own poetry that he has published along with two stories by the late racing journalist Jim Coleman.

The aptly named Poetic Fan, a 2-year-old filly trained by Dave Cotey, was a special guest at Galvin's party.

Galvin's book is available through his email address, wgalvin@trebnet.com.