05/03/2002 12:00AM

Ginger Gold begins her Oaks drive

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - All eyes will be on Ginger Gold, last year's Sovereign Award-winning champion 2-year-old filly, when she launches her 2002 campaign in Sunday's $163,500 Fury Stakes at Woodbine.

A field of seven Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies was drawn for the seven-furlong Fury, which has been the definitive prep for the Labatt Woodbine Oaks in recent years.

Ginger Gold, owned by Jim Dandy Stable, made all four of her starts in stakes last year, winning on three occasions. She notched her debut in the restricted Shady Well and then finished third behind Platel and Jealous Forum in the Ontario Debutante.

Ginger Gold began really to blossom when her trainer, Sid Attard, sent her long. She captured the one-mile Natalma Stakes on turf by 8 1/4 lengths in September and capped her campaign with a front-running, 4 1/2-length score in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Oct. 13.

Ginger Gold spent the winter in Kentucky and has trained encouragingly for her return to action, according to Attard, who sent her out for a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 last week.

"She started light training on Jan. 15," Attard said. "She's coming around well. Her last work was very nice - she wanted to do it. She usually works better in company, but she was by herself this time. I think she's ready."

Ginger Gold's main objective is the $500,000 Oaks. Attard was noncommittal about whether or not he would use the Grade 1 Selene Stakes on May 20 as a final prep for the June 8 Oaks.

"We're going to see how she runs Sunday and take it from there," Attard said.

"If she runs back in the Selene and the Oaks, it would be three races in a month, which is too much to ask from her. We don't want to push her too much. There are a lot of good races for her later on."

Completing the Fury field will be Distant Roar, Far and Near, Mulrainy, Tacky Affair, Gonetofarr, and Miss Noire.

Mulrainy has been a model of consistency for her trainer, Tom O'Keefe, hitting the board in all six of her starts, including the Princess Elizabeth. She dueled up front through moderate fractions before drawing off to take her lone start this year, in a six-furlong preliminary allowance April 21.

"It was a pretty easy race for her," said O'Keefe, referring to Mulrainy's comeback win.

O'Keefe said the filly was running "completely relaxed. I haven't put any pressure on her whatsoever this year. She's done everything I've asked from her, and she looks like a million dollars."

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