10/16/2005 11:00PM

'Gold' jumps to BC Classic

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Jambalaya, shown training at Woodbine on Monday, will take the place of stablemate A Bit O'Gold in the Canadian International.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A Bit O'Gold, who switched his focus to turf this summer, has long been considered the top local hopeful for Sunday's Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International here at Woodbine.

But a serious change in plans has quietly been brewing, and on Monday morning trainer Catherine Day Phillips said she was pre-entering A Bit O'Gold in the Breeders' Cup Classic, to be run Oct. 29 at Belmont Park.

A stablemate, Jambalaya, will take over as the barn's representative in the Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

A Bit O'Gold, an impressive winner of the Dominion Day at 1 1/4 miles on the main track here July 1, followed up with a convincing win in the Chinese Cultural Centre at 1 3/8 miles on turf.

But after A Bit O'Gold finished third at 1 1/2 miles on turf in the Niagara, his regular rider, Jono Jones, approached Day Phillips with an interesting suggestion.

"Jono very seriously came in, sat down, and suggested that this is where we should be running," Day Phillips said of the BC Classic. "We had thought about it, but there wasn't really a logical way to get there. We couldn't find a Grade 2 mile-and-an-eighth or mile-and-a-quarter race out of town. The only race was the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and it seemed that was as big a step as going to the Breeders' Cup. So we settled back to the original plan, of the Canadian International."

A Bit O'Gold won the Sky Classic at 1 3/8 miles on turf here Oct. 2, but Day Phillips still harbored doubts.

"I think he won purely on heart," she said. "I think the Canadian International is going to have a very good field, and I honestly don't believe he's of that caliber at a mile and a half on turf."

Day Phillips said she had "done a lot of soul-searching," as she did feel a commitment to the Canadian International, but the presence of Jambalaya made her decision to send A Bit O'Gold to New York somewhat easier.

Jambalaya, also ridden by Jones, defeated fellow Canadian-breds in the Breeders' Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race here Aug. 7, and then won the Saranac at 1 3/16 miles on grass at Saratoga.

But a return trip to New York for the Oct. 9 Jamaica at Belmont was wasted as Jambalaya was scratched when the race was switched to the main track.

Jambalaya shipped home, and when his backup choice at Belmont, the Lawrence Realization, was delayed a week to Oct. 23, Day Phillips decided it made more sense to run here in the International.

"I do think he's a mile-and-a-half turf horse, and he'll have an advantage of seven pounds," said Day Phillips, noting that Jambalaya would carry 119 under the weight-for-age conditions of the International. "He deserves a shot at what he does best."

European invaders touch down

The four-horse European contingent for the Canadian International checked in Sunday after an all-night flight from England.

Electrocutionist, Yeats, and Grey Swallow all are Group 1 winners, while Simonas is a Group 2 winner who finished second in last year's Canadian International.

Punctilious came in on the same flight and will be one of the leading contenders for Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares in which she finished second last year.

The field

Candian International candidates
Purse: $1.5 million; 1 1/2 m turf; Grade 1

ElectrocutionistV. ValianiM. Kinane
Grey SwallowD. WeldP. Smullen
JambalayaC. Day PhillipsJ. Jones
King's DramaR. FrankelJ. Velazquez
Last AnswerM. KeoghC. Fraser
Meteor StormW. DollaseJ. Castellano
Relaxed GestureC. ClementC. Nakatani
SimonasA. WohlerE. Pedroza
Strut the StageM. FrostadT. Kabel
YeatsA. O'BrienK. Fallon