11/21/2006 1:00AM

Easterman draws favorable comparison


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mike DePaulo unveiled a nice prospect here at Woodbine last Sunday when Easterman won his seven-furlong debut in convincing fashion.

DePaulo admits he is hoping that Easterman, a 2-year-old gelding who was so named because he was born on Easter Monday, could be the second coming of Shillelagh Slew.

Shillelagh Slew, who showed plenty of potential in four starts last year, really came into his own this season and is a leading candidate for the Sovereign Award in the 3-year-old colt or gelding division.

"Easterman's a long, lean-type horse," said DePaulo. "Unfortunately, he had some problem and he was gelded when he was one day old. Possibly that's why he didn't get as thick as he should be.

"Shillelagh Slew was kind of a string bean at 2 but he filled out. Maybe it will be the same with this guy."

By Smart Strike out of the Green Dancer mare Green Noble, Easterman was purchased privately in late August from his breeder, Arosa Farm, and now races for owner Frank Romano.

"When I got him, he was up to working three-eighths of a mile," said DePaulo. "We had a little trouble getting him okayed from the gate; he didn't want to leave that fast."

Easterman eventually passed his gate test, and while DePaulo was optimistic heading into his first start he did have some concerns.

"I knew the horse had a license to be a good horse," said DePaulo. "But, I was concerned seven-eighths wouldn't be far enough for him and I was hoping he wouldn't be strictly grass."

Easterman's dam, Green Noble, was a turf specialist who has passed that affinity on to offspring such as Noble Strike and Sir Frederick.

Easterman came from just off the pace and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 76 for his 3o1/2-length win, so his Polytrack form does not appear to be a problem.

"There's a chance he'll make one more start this year," said DePaulo. "I really think he's going to be a stayer."

Shillelagh Slew and Easterman both will be wintering in Florida with DePaulo, who is taking five horses to Palm Meadows and will send another batch to Classic Mile.

The majority of DePaulo's horses will be staying in Ontario, however, and his wife and assistant, Josie DePaulo, will be getting the troops organized here when the stable area opens on Feb. 1.

Jambalaya will return in Florida

Trainer Catherine Day Phillips also will be heading to Florida, where she has a 10-acre property named Kingfield Farms South.

"I've got 14 2-year-olds in training down there, under Julia Moya, and I've sent down a load of older horses," said Day Phillips.

Jambalaya, a 4-year-old gelding who races for Kingfield Farms, was one of the early arrivals in Florida and is gearing up for a return to the races next year.

"He had a break, and he's back in training," said Day Phillips.

Jambalaya, second to since-retired stablemate A Bit o' Gold in the balloting for champion turf male last year, could be a repeat finalist despite winning just one race this season.

"His year was a little unfulfilling in many ways," said Day Phillips. "I think he ran hard, and I think he ran well.

"Unfortunately, he didn't meet much of an even playing field in the turf-footing department. I don't think he got a chance to show what shape he was really in."

Jambalaya won the Singspiel over 1 1/4 miles on firm turf here June 25 but then caught soft and yielding surfaces in his next four outings.

Still, Jambalaya finished third in both the Northern Dancer and Nijinsky and was a close second in the Sky Classic to Better Talk Now, who subsequently ended the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Jambalaya's first stakes target next year will be the Grade 3, $100,000 Mac Diarmida, a 1 3/8-mile turf race at Gulfstream Park in January.

"I'll race a couple at Gulfstream, a couple at Tampa," said Day Phillips, who has a six-furlong training track on her own farm but also has taken six stalls at the Ocala Breeders' Training Center and will shuttle horses there to work over a one-mile track.

Thompson Lake points to Display

In the meantime, Day Phillips is looking forward to running Thompson Lake here in Saturday's $125,000 Display, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.

"He wintered with us in Florida last year and came along nicely," said Day Phillips, whose Kingfield Farm owns Thompson Lake in partnership with Julia Moya and her husband, Patrick Warden.

"He's not a super-big horse. I think he has some maturing and growing up to do still."

Thompson Lake, an Ontario-bred who was purchased for $50,000 at the local select yearling sale, debuted here Sept. 10 and finished fifth in a six-furlong maiden special.

"He'd worked well, but he ran a little greenly," said Day Phillips. "He kind of figured it out around the eighth pole.

"He got everything going a little late, but at least he got going in the right direction."

Thompson Lake stretched out to 1o1/16 miles for his next start and was a neck winner of a "B" maiden special on Oct. 7.

"He was green again, off the bridle, but he figured it out in time to win," said Day Phillips. "I thought he was the type who wanted to go long."

Day Phillips had selected the maiden race as Thompson Lake's stepping-stone to the $250,000 Coronation Futurity, a 1 1/8- mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds here Nov. 5.

"The timing was good, four weeks out, and he got a shot at two turns," said Day Phillips.

Thompson Lake wound up fourth in the Coronation Futurity, beaten 8o1/2 lengths.

"On the first turn he didn't like the kickback in his face, and ended up being four wide," said Dap Phillips. "He made up a bit of ground, on a track that people thought horses weren't making up much ground on.

"He had a nice breeze last Saturday. He finished up nicely."

Thompson Lake worked five furlongs in 1:01 that day, equaling the best of 49 workouts at the distance.