11/02/2006 12:00AM

Fashion may have an impact


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Saturday's $125,000 Ontario Fashion Stakes at Woodbine is a pivotal race for the Hide and Chic. Run at six furlongs, it will be her third start in Canada in 2006, giving her the minimum number of starts required to be eligible for a Sovereign Award this year.

Second in the Grade 1 Test Stakes in 2005, Hide and Chic has run three solid races since shipping here last summer to trainer Malcolm Pierce's barn. She pulled a 48-1 upset in the Grade 3 Royal North Stakes on turf off an eight-month layoff in August and won the Grade 3 Seaway Stakes on the Polytrack in September.

Most recently, in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club America Stakes at Keeneland, Hide and Chic finished a game second to Malibu Mint, who is in Saturday's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill.

Pierce said he was ecstatic with Hide and Chic's last performance.

"There are no easy spots at Keeneland, and you have to be happy any time you can hit the board in a stakes there," Pierce said. "At one point in the stretch, I thought she might get up and win the darn thing. The winner is going on to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, so she didn't get beat by any slouch."

Pierce said he had mixed feelings about Hide and Chic's half-mile work last Sunday, which was timed in 50.40 seconds.

"It was in that bloody wind, on the day they canceled," Pierce said. "I didn't get a very good line on her. She went a little slower than I had anticipated, but she's dead fit and probably didn't need to do much more than that."

Even if she loses the Fashion, Hide and Chic could end up being a Sovereign finalist in two categories, champion older filly or mare and champion sprinter.

Count to Three will likely be the second choice in the 13-horse Fashion field.

Count to Three seemingly found her niche on the grass last summer, when she won the restricted Zadracarta Stakes and the allowance prep for the Royal North. After finishing a close fourth in the Royal North, she dropped a nose decision in the Belle Geste Stakes.

Trainer Mark Frostad tried Count to Three on the Polytrack in the allowance prep for the Fashion, which she won convincingly, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

"She obviously converted to the Polytrack pretty nicely," Frostad said. "I imagine this race will be a lot tougher, but we'll give it a shot. She's trained well up to the race."