03/28/2002 1:00AM

Fury, not Star Shoot, is start of Oaks road


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Next Saturday's $125,000 Star Shoot is billed as the first local stakes stepping-stone to the Woodbine Oaks June 8.

But Ginger Gold, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly last year after winning the Princess Elizabeth, Natalma, and Shady Well stakes, was among several key Oaks hopefuls who were not nominated to the six-furlong Star Shoot. Instead, Ginger Gold will run in the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies on May 5.

Sid Attard, who trains Ginger Gold for the Jim Dandy Stable of Mel Lawson, said Ginger Gold is behind schedule in her training, which began in Kentucky on Jan. 15.

"She's starting to come around, but she's not as fit as I thought she'd be," Attard said.

Ginger Gold, who arrived here March 6, had recorded just two three-furlong breezes heading into the weekend, but is scheduled for a longer drill Saturday.

Attard remains hopeful Ginger Gold will be ready for the Fury, and then a decision will have to be made whether to proceed to the May 20 Selene at 1 1/16 miles or go straight to the Oaks.

"We're just going to have to play it by ear and make sure we do what's right for her," said Attard.

Mulrainy, runner-up to Ginger Gold in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth, and What a Breeze, who closed out her 2001 campaign with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Lassie, are other leading Oaks prospects who are missing from the Star Shoot list.

Trained by Tom O'Keefe, Mulrainy finished third behind two American-breds here last year in the Grade 1 Mazarine at 1 1/16 miles.

"I didn't want to run her short," said O'Keefe, explaining why Mulrainy isn't running in the Star Shoot. He added that Mulrainy had wintered on the nearby Wings of Erin Farm of her owner, Les Roberts.

Mulrainy is scheduled to work six furlongs Saturday and could make her seasonal bow in the Fury.

All being well, Mulrainy then would proceed to the Grade 1 Selene, an open race, and onward to the Oaks.

"She's coming along nice and steady," said O'Keefe. "She's doing very well; she's developed nicely. She'll peak at the right time."

What a Breeze, owned by Stan Dodson's Hopefield Farm and trained by Earl Barnett, was scheduled to arrive at Woodbine on Friday after wintering at Plumley Farm near Ocala, Fla.

"They've had her in training since around Jan. 10," said Barnett, adding that What a Breeze has made it up to a half-mile in unrecorded drills.

"I wanted to bring her back here earlier, but she won't train on the training track; she really had a dislike of it."

Barnett is looking to the Fury for What a Breeze's seasonal bow.

"She'll handle the Oaks distance," said the trainer. "I've just got to have her ready."

Gonetofarr sharp for Star Shoot

The Star Shoot field should include at least one bona fide Oaks contender in Gonetofarr, who ran third in the Princess Elizabeth and second in the Lassie for owner George Farr and trainer Reade Baker.

"She'll probably go Star Shoot, Fury, Oaks," said Baker, who sent Gonetofarr to nearby Huntington Stud Farm for the winter.

Baker, who plans to breeze Gonetofarr on Sunday, was particularly pleased with her last move, a six-furlong drill in 1:14.60 here last Tuesday.

"She's doing super," said the trainer, adding that the Star Shoot will be more than just a tune-up for Gonetofarr.

"She'll be a serious contender off the work."

Another Sam-Son prospect

Sam-Son Farm, owner of the last two Oaks winners, Dancethruthedawn and Catch the Ring, has a half-dozen prospects for this year's running and may stand its best chance with Split the Arrow.

A homebred by Smart Strike out of Radiant Ring, Split the Arrow was unraced at 2 but has started twice this year at Fair Grounds for trainer Mark Frostad, both races coming over 1 1/16 miles.

Split the Arrow was an even third, beaten four lengths, in her debut and then was beaten just a neck as the runner-up despite a troubled trip in her last start March 23.

A total of 154 Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies remain eligible for the Oaks, but that list will be pared significantly when the final nomination payment of $250 falls due May 1.

Numerous Times back in training

Numerous Times, the Sovereign Award-winning turf male last year, had his first breeze of the year Tuesday. A 5-year-old horse owned by The Committee Stable and trained by Sid Attard, Numerous Times wintered at nearby Norse Ridge Farm and has been at the track since March 11.

"He's doing very good," said Attard. "I'm very happy with him so far."

Numerous Times, who is undefeated in a six-race career plagued by injury, will be brought along slowly and his schedule has yet to be mapped out.