11/26/2004 1:00AM

'El Prado' tries to win career finale


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - El Prado Essence will try to go out a winner in Sunday's Grade 3, $162,750 Bessarabian Handicap for fillies and mares at Woodbine.

The seven-furlong stakes is the slated to be the final career start for 7-year-old El Prado Essence, who will be bred next year. According to owner-trainer Audre Cappuccitti, she was pronounced in foal early this year, but was put back into training after absorbing her foal.

"She came back to the track and just thrived," Cappuccitti said. "She looked like a racehorse - not a broodmare. She's just really enjoyed it. She's tried so hard this year and has run some tough races, but unfortunately she's always hooked Winter Garden, who's an awesome filly. I'd love to see her go out on a high note."

El Prado Essence, the Bessarabian runner-up in 2000 and 2003, has won 10 of 33 starts, for earnings of $857,731. She was second to favored Winter Garden in her first start of the year, the Aug. 22 allowance prep for the Seaway Stakes.

"I was thrilled the first time she ran," Cappuccitti said. "She didn't disgrace herself."

El Prado Essence subsequently ran third in the Grade 3 Seaway and is coming off a closing second-place finish to Winter Garden in the six-furlong Ontario Fashion Handicap.

"This distance will suit her a lot better," Cappuccitti said. "She loves seven-eighths."

The Bessarabian could also be the final career outing for 2002 Woodbine Oaks winner Ginger Gold, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly in 2001.

Ginger Gold lost a step or two over the past two seasons, winning just 3 of 16 starts. She ran a strong race over yielding turf earlier this month, however, finishing second after opening up a sizable lead in the one-mile River Memories Stakes.

Trainer Sid Attard said he will ponder Ginger Gold's future with owner Mel Lawson after the Bessarabian.

"I love her," Attard said. "She's been very good to us."

Also entered in the Bessarabian is popular former claimer Miss Grindstone, a 13-time winner in 25 starts.

Miss Grindstone got a career high 89 Beyer Speed Figure when she won an $80,000 claiming race on Aug. 6. She was claimed for $50,000 from a victory on Sept. 30, and was claimed again for $77,500 by her current trainer, Frank Passero Jr., when she won her third race in a row on Oct. 11.

Miss Grindstone is exiting a fourth-place finish in the Ontario Fashion, beaten 3 3/4 lengths.