06/28/2002 11:00PM

Ginger Gold tries for second jewel


FORT ERIE, Ontario - The road to the Bison City winner's circle should be paved with Ginger Gold.

After her convincing win in the 1 1/8-mile Labatt Woodbine Oaks on June 8, it's no secret Ginger Gold is the one to beat here in Monday's 1 1/16-mile Labatt Bison City.

The 10-race program at Fort Erie Monday, which begins at 1:05 p.m. Eastern, also features the $60,000 Centre Stage Anne for Canadian-bred fillies and mares who have started at least twice at the meeting.

The $250,000 Bison City follows the Oaks in the Triple Tiara series for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, which concludes with the Aug. 5 Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles of turf at Woodbine. If Ginger Gold were to sweep the series she would earn a bonus of $350,000.

Ginger Gold, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly for trainer Sid Attard and the Jim Dandy Stable of Mel Lawson, was making her third start of the season in the Oaks after having finished second in both the seven-furlong Fury and 1 1/16-mile Selene at Woodbine.

And the probability that Ginger Gold will be even tougher with the Oaks under her belt is a daunting prospect for her six Bison City opponents.

"She's worked better [since the Oaks]," said Attard, who sent Ginger Gold out for a five-furlong bullet drill of 59.60 seconds under her regular rider, Richard Dos Ramos, on the Woodbine training track Tuesday. "I'd said to Dos Ramos, 'Slow her down a little bit,' and she worked faster. He said he was scared to breathe on her."

Ginger Gold will be the 123-pound highweight, picking up two pounds because of her Bison City score. Dos Ramos should get her off to a clean beginning from post 6.

Looking to turn the tables on Ginger Gold here Sunday will be Silver Nithi and Alpha Heat, the 2-3 finishers in the Oaks.

Silver Nithi, owned and bred by Dick and Jo Ellen Shaw, trained by David Bell, and ridden by Mickey Walls, has some history on her side. Her dam, Nithi, won the 1997 renewal of the Bison City for the same connections but suffered a career-ending injury in the process.

Bell and the Shaws also won the 1995 edition of the Bison City, with Woolloomooloo.

In the Oaks, Silver Nithi closed wide from well back to be beaten 1 1/2 lengths. In her previous race, her maiden win at 1 1/16 miles, she had been in close attendance to the pace.

"She ran a different kind of race in the Oaks," said Bell. "She was a little green early, and kind of got dirt in her face. But she came a-running. The smaller field might help her."

Alpha Heat, owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Roger Attfield, was making just her second appearance of 2002 after opening up her campaign with a second-place finish in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on May 19.

"She went into the Oaks probably a race short of her best," said Attfield. "She's trained well since, and I think she'll run well."

Attfield has saddled three Bison City winners: Hey Hazel in 1993, Lubicon in 1990, and Playlist in 1986.

Also exiting the Oaks is Bright Knight, trained by part-owner Gail Casselman, who finished 5 1/4 lengths back in fifth place.

Rounding out the Bison City field will be Woodbine-based Ilkley Moor Bahtat and Fort Erie regulars La Ballerine and Slot Girl.

Ilkley Moor Bahtat also has a Fort Erie connection as she will be ridden by the meet's second-leading rider, Chris Griffith.

Although she was a convincing winner over Alpha Heat in a May 19 Woodbine allowance race, Ilkley Moor Bahtat came back to finish a well-beaten sixth in a 1 1/8-mile race which was contested over a sloppy surface.

"That was supposed to be a turf race," said Ilkley Moor Bahtat's trainer, Steve Owens, "but they took it off.

"She ran in turf shoes; she usually runs in a different set of shoes on the dirt. I think her performance in that race can be excused. She's in good shape."