11/10/2007 1:00AM

Like a Gem upsets in Maple Leaf

EmailLike a Gem ($17) held off New York invader I'm in Love in the stretch to capture Saturday's $207,000 Maple Leaf Stakes at Woodbine.

Vancouver shipper Monashee, the 8-5 favorite who was seeking her 12th consecutive win, finished a dull eighth in the 10-horse field of fillies and mares.

Like a Gem led through an opening quarter-mile in 24.24 seconds in the 1 1/4-mile event. She was overtaken on the first turn by Serenading, who got the half-mile in 48.91 and three-quarters in 1:14.25.

Emma Wilson had Like a Gem stalking Serenading on the backstretch, and hit the front midway on the far turn, while I'm in Love was in the midst of a five-wide rally. I'm in Love drew abreast of Like a Gem at the eighth pole, but Like a Gem dug in and scored by a half-length, in a Polytrack record time of 2:03.51.

Tell It as It Is rallied to finish another half-length back in third. Monashee stalked the leaders along the inside, and then began to fade early in the stretch, before ending up 7 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

Wilson said she was surprised to find herself alone on the early lead, and was content to sit off Serenading on the backstretch.

"Once Serenading went by me on the first turn, she settled down rally nicely, and was traveling comfortably," Wilson said. "When she saw [I'm in Love], she gave me everything she had."

It was the third consecutive victory for Like a Gem, who banked $135,000 for Hillsbrook Stable and trainer Danny Vella. Wow Me Free, also trained by Vella, wound up fourth.