10/05/2006 12:00AM

Essential Edge sharp for Carotene


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Essential Edge will try to duplicate her scintillating Ontario Colleen Stakes score Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Carotene, a nine-furlong turf stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

A royally bred daughter of Storm Cat, Essential Edge crushed maidens on the main track in her June 14 seasonal bow. After running third in the Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie, she finished third in the allowance prep for the Ontario Colleen.

Trainer Eric Coatrieux said Essential Edge ran greenly in the Colleen prep.

"It was her first start on turf, and it was all new for her," Coatrieux said. "She was ducking and diving from everything."

In the Sept. 2 Ontario Colleen at a mile, Essential Edge led through slow fractions over yielding ground and then drew off in the stretch to record a four-length victory under Jono Jones.

Jones was back aboard for her five-furlong breeze in a bullet 1:00 here Sept. 30.

Coatrieux said Essential Edge needed a qualifying work in order to be eligible to run in the Carotene. He wanted to work her on the grass, but turf training was canceled when he had planned the move, so he ended up breezing her on the Polytrack.

Jones "was pretty happy with her," Coatrieux said. "She's all set to go."

Strike Softly and Like a Gem, who finished second and third in the Colleen, will try essential edge again.

Strike Softly stalked the pace on the inside under Todd Kabel, recording her second consecutive runner-up placing.

"She ran a good race," said trainer Mark Frostad. "She just got blown away by Essential Edge, who found a new life."

Strike Softly was beaten a half-length after setting the fractions in the July 29 Wonder Where Stakes. She captured the 6 1/2-furlong Ontario Damsel Stakes with a strong stretch kick July 9.

Frostad said he anticipates another good performance from Strike Softly in the Carotene.

"I don't think the distance will be a problem," Frostad said. "She was second in the Wonder Where at a mile and a quarter. She's been training well. She always shows up."

Like a Gem won the Wonder Where over yielding ground as a 48-1 outsider, but finished far back in the Aug. 12 Duchess Stakes on the inner dirt track. She has worked quickly over Polytrack for trainer Danny Vella.

London Snow toppled Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies last time out in the one-mile La Prevoyante Stakes.

Our Madison captured the Colleen prep, and was a troubled sixth in the Colleen.

Feisty Woman led throughout a recent nine-furlong maiden special, prevailing over a pair of next-out winners.