08/12/2004 11:00PM

Duchess looks worth waiting for


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There were no graded stakes on the schedule here at Woodbine over the last two weekends, but next Sunday's Grade 3 Duchess, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, is shaping up as an interesting contest.

Heading the local candidates for the $150,000 Duchess is Blonde Executive, who is coming off a smashing score in the Passing Mood over seven furlongs yielding turf here July 28.

The Passing Mood was the third career stakes score, all in Ontario-sired company, for Blonde Executive, a homebred owned by Bruno Brothers Farm and trained by Radlie Loney.

Silver Bird, also Duchess-bound, won the Glorious Song, an open seven-furlong race here last fall.

Owned by Jim McAlpine and trained by Reade Baker, Silver Bird finished second in both the seven-furlong Fury for Canadian-breds and the Grade 2 Selene over 1 1/16 miles here this spring.

Freshened after a disappointing effort in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks on June 13, Silver Bird prepped for the Duchess last Friday with a second-place finish in a third-level allowance against older fillies and mares at six furlongs.

One up-and-coming filly who could take a shot in the Duchess is Krz Time, who has won her last two starts. Krz Time won her maiden here July 17 and a first-level allowance Aug. 8, both at seven furlongs.

"I really think she wants to go a mile and a sixteenth," said trainer Mike DePaulo. "I don't think she's a come-from-behind sprinter. But, she could certainly use some black type."

Krz Time, a daughter of Krz Ldy, is a half-sister to Krz Ruckus, a multiple sprint stakes winner for DePaulo.

Ontario Debutante featured

Next Sunday's feature will be the $125,000 Ontario Debutante, a six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. Heading the list of Debutante probables is South Bay Cove, who is coming off a 12 1/2-length score in the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well here July 24.

The Shady Well, for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies, was South Bay Cove's second win in three starts.

My Vintage Port back after break

My Vintage Port, upset winner of the Wonder Where Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf here Aug. 1, has returned to the racetrack after a 10-day freshening at the nearby Georgetown farm of her trainer, Ken Parsley.

An Ontario-bred who is owned by Parsley and Rick Pettifer, My Vintage Port was voted Canada's champion 2-year-old filly after closing out her campaign with three stakes wins.

"We've got lots of choices for her," said Parsley, pondering My Vintage Port's next start. "She's pointing to either the Eternal Search, or the Ontario Colleen."

The Eternal Search is a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies here Sept. 1. The Ontario Colleen, an open one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, goes Sept. 4. Both stakes are worth $125,000.

My Vintage Port, as a local yearling sales purchase, also is eligible for both the Algoma and the Halton, two of the $125,000 events on the Sept. 5 yearling sales stakes program.

The 1 1/16-mile Algoma is for fillies and mares, 3 and up. The Halton, a 1 1/8 mile turf race, is open to 3-year-olds and upward of both sexes.

"I don't want to run her against older horses," said Parsley.

Spots still open in Challenge

The entry box remains open for Woodbine's $56,250 Thoroughbred Handicapping Challenge, a two-day contest that will take place here on the weekend of Aug. 28-29.

Players in the contest will make 10 mythical win bets, including three on designated races. Woodbine, Fort Erie, and Saratoga will be the contest tracks. The entry fee is $250 and all fees will be returned as prize money.

The first prize, based on the maximum field of 225, will be $23,062.50. The top three finishers will earn trips to Las Vegas and berths in the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship.

New head for racing commission

John Blakney will take over as executive director and chief executive officer of the Ontario Racing Commission, effective early next month.

Blakney will be leaving the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission, where he had been the director of racing and chief administrative officer since 2001.

Lynda Tanaka, chair of the Ontario commission, announced Blakney's hiring in a press release Thursday.

Experienced in administrative law as well as the horse racing industry, Blakney earned a master's degree in urban and regional planning from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

The Ontario Racing Commission, a self-funded regulatory agency that oversees horse racing in the province, annually supervises more than 1,700 race dates, licensing 18 racetracks and more than 20,000 individuals.

The Hambletonian Society recently honored the commission with the Frederick L. Van Lennep Memorial Achievement Award for its work in improving the image and integrity of racing.

* This Sunday will be Greek Day at Woodbine, featuring Greek food, entertainment, and a free draw for a trip for two to Greece. In honor of the occasion, the fifth race on the card has been named the Greek Centaur Classic.