06/15/2006 12:00AM

Gold Strike faces four in Hill 'n' Dale


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Gold Strike, Canada's reigning champion 3-year-old filly, heads a quality field of five fillies and mares in Saturday's $100,000 Hill 'n' Dale Stakes at Woodbine.

A season in one of three stallions standing at Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Kentucky will be awarded to the owners of the first three finishers in the 1 1/16-mile race. The stallions are El Corredor, Stormy Atlantic, and Candy Ride.

Gold Strike romped in both the Grade 3 Selene Stakes and Woodbine Oaks last spring, but missed the second half of the year after finishing a fading third against males in the Queen's Plate.

"She pulled her high suspensories in the Plate, when the track was deep," said trainer Reade Baker. "I think she stopped that day because she was a hurt horse."

Gold Strike resurfaced here May 14, in the six-furlong Hendrie Stakes, rallying wide for

second behind High Button Shoes, who subsequently ran second to Dubai Escapade in the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont.

Baker said he was pleased with Gold Strike's comeback performance, even though she had a tough trip.

"It didn't play out the way we wanted it to," said Baker. "We were down in the middle [on the turn], which was the place to be, but nothing opened up."

Gold Strike breezed six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 on June 7.

"It was a huge work," Baker said. "She's ready to go."

The other contenders in the Hill 'n' Dale are Ballroom Deputy and Flaming Heart.

Ballroom Deputy, victorious in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf Stakes here in November, had a useful four-race winter campaign south of the border, during which she placed in three stakes.

Ballroom Deputy has been absent since ending up third in the March 24 Goddess Stakes at Evangeline Downs, an effort trainer Josie Carroll was content with.

"I thought it was a good race," said Carroll. "She finished a little flatter than I expected. She had a pretty strong winter campaign and got a little tired. We freshened her up and were hoping for a prep for this race. We entered her in an allowance race here that didn't fill."

Flaming Heart is making her local debut following a runner-up placing behind Fleet Indian in the Grade 3 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct. Flaming Heart won her three previous starts, including the restricted Strolling Belle Stakes.