05/02/2002 11:00PM

Distant Roar gets the call


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Distant Roar, who will make her local debut for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad at Woodbine in Sunday's Fury Stakes, has a couple of tough acts to follow.

The Fury is the primary stakes prep for the June 8 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8 mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Sam-Son Farm and trainer Frostad have won the last two runnings of the Oaks, with Catch the Ring in 2000 and Dancethruthedawn last year.

And although the barn had a bushel of nominees for this year's Oaks, their hopes have boiled down to Distant Roar, a daughter of Storm Cat and Wilderness Song.

"She's been a little slow to come around," said Frostad. "Her first start was all right, then she threw in a couple of clunkers. But she surprised everybody and ran a big race at Keeneland."

Distant Roar finished third in her debut over six furlongs at Fair Grounds Feb. 1 but was unplaced in her next two starts there, at six furlongs and then at one mile, before graduating with a front-running victory over seven furlongs at Keeneland.

Looking past the Fury, Frostad allows that the Oaks distance could be a concern for Distant Roar.

"She's got a habit of holding her breath," said Frostad. "Maybe she'll relax a little more, and put it together."

Split the Arrow and Dance to Destiny injured

Split the Arrow, who was looming as a strong Oaks candidate for Sam-Son after turning in solid efforts in a pair of two-turn outings in New Orleans, instead will be on the shelf for about three months.

"She suffered a stress fracture of her back tibia," said Frostad. "She probably did it in her last race at Fair Grounds; she was jostled around a little bit on the turn, and when she worked back she didn't work any good."

Sam-Son and Frostad also are coming off back-to-back Plates with full siblings Scatter the Gold and Dancethruthedawn, who are offspring of Mr. Prospector and Dance Smartly.

But the family's remarkable streak will not continue as their full brother, Dance to Destiny, is sidelined with a stress fracture. "He's out for a couple of months," said Frostad.

Dance With Destiny has started just once, finishing third over six furlongs here last August, and had worked very well at Keeneland last month.

Two trainers banned

Trainers Phil Gracey and April Friesen will not be allowed to enter or race any horses, effective April 25, after runners they saddled here last month came up with positive tests.

The bans will last for a minimum of 30 days, or until a hearing on the violations has been heard and dealt with by the Ontario Racing Commission stewards.

The Woodbine house rule states that any trainer who has received a positive test for a drug that is either Class 1 or Class 2, as determined by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, is subject to the summary suspension.

Under ARCI guidelines, Class 2 drugs are deemed to have high potential for enhancing performance, and most are not generally accepted as therapeutic agents.

"What the policy is designed to do is to get trainers to move on with getting their hearings with the ORC and dealing with their problem, to avoid lengthy stays or appeals and to avoid having races conducted under a cloud of suspicion," said Hugh Mitchell, senior vice president of racing for Woodbine.

"There's a lot of innuendo and conjecture around racetracks," said Mitchell, "and we just can't afford to be anything but as squeaky-clean as we possibly can. Anything we can do to enhance our image, on this front, is to all of our benefit."

My Hearts Desire, winner of the sixth race for Friesen here April 6, and Susan Gracey, second-place finisher for Gracey in the second race here April 7, both tested positive for oxazepam, temazepam and nordazepam, which are metabolites of the tranquilizer diazepam (more commonly known by its trade name, Valium).

No hearing dates had been set as of Friday.

In the meantime, Sergio Greco will be the trainer of record for the Gracey outfit, which numbers 16 horses. My Hearts Desire is the only horse trained by Friesen, who also owns the filly.

The Woodbine rule also states that horses involved in Class 1 or Class 2 positive tests will not be permitted to race for 30 calendar days.

"The reason the horses are suspended is to encourage owners to take some responsibility, and to choose carefully the trainers of record that they want for taking care and custody of their horses," said Mitchell.

Delayed DQ in Kennedy Road

Olympian has been disqualified from his first-place finish here in the Dec. 1, 2001, Kennedy Road Stakes after the appeal of his trainer and part-owner, John Cardella, was denied by the ORC at a downtown hearing on Tuesday.

There was no inquiry following the running of the Kennedy Road, but trainer Mike Wright Jr. and jockey Steven Bahen, connections of second-place finisher Praise from Dixie, appealed the result.

The appeal, based on the contention that Praise From Dixie had been struck on the nose by the whip of Olympian's rider, Todd Kabel, was allowed by the Ontario Thoroughbred Industry Appeal board.

Cardella then exercised his right to a further appeal, which was dismissed by the ORC panel.

Olympian, meanwhile, is entered in Sunday's fourth race, a classified allowance sprint.

* A memorial service was held Friday for Alf Bavington, a former jockey and longtime Ontario Jockey Club employee. Bavington, who died at age 80 last Sunday, rode Major Factor to victory in the 1951 running of the Queen's Plate, which actually was the race's final running as the King's Plate. He went on to work as an outrider for the OJC for 32 years.