08/29/2005 11:00PM

Gold Strike out for remainder of year


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Gold Strike, who followed up her convincing win in the Labatt Woodbine Oaks with a valiant third-place finish in the Queen's Plate, will not race again this season.

Given a brief freshening following the June 26 Queen's Plate, Gold Strike had been aiming for the $125,000 La Lorgnette, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Sept. 24 at Woodbine. But she pulled a muscle in a workout after the Plate, trainer Reade Baker said, and the injury has not fully healed.

"She just needs time," said Baker, who trains Gold Strike for the Harlequin Ranches of her owner and breeder, Dick Bonnycastle. "She was all right coming out of the Plate. She worked great after the Plate, and pulled a muscle behind. I thought it was all behind me, but the last time she worked, she wasn't perfect."

Baker noted that the La Lorgnette was the last two-turn main track stakes for 3-year-old fillies at the meeting.

"I would be rushed to get her ready for that, and then what do you do?" said Baker. "She has got to have a break sometime; she has been going a long time. So, we're going to give her a break right now."

Gold Strike will be heading this week to Ocala, Fla., and Harlequin Ranches manager Tony Goswell. Baker expects the filly to join him in December at Gulfstream Park.

"She's going to have to race there, because the opportunities for her here next year will be so limited if the calendar stays the same," said Baker.

"I think her numbers indicate that she's good enough to go out of town, too, so we're going to have to keep that in mind. You certainly can't come back and think you're going to have a whole campaign here."

This spring, Gold Strike won the Grade 3 Selene and the Woodbine Oaks. In the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, Gold Strike looked like a winner rounding the far turn but weakened slightly to finish third behind American invaders Wild Desert and King of Jazz.

Jambalaya set for Saranac

Jambalaya, winner of the Breeders' Stakes over 1 1/2 miles of turf here Aug. 7, shipped out for Saratoga on Tuesday morning for his prospective engagement in Sunday's $100,000 Saranac Stakes.

Accompanying Jambalaya were exercise rider Louise McDonald and Todd Phillips, racing manager for the horse's owner, Kingfield Racing Stable, and husband of the horse's trainer, Catherine Day Phillips.

Regular rider Jono Jones has the call on Jambalaya for the Saranac, a 1 3/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, and was aboard when the gelding tuned up by breezing five furlongs in 1:01.80 on the main track here last Saturday.

Blazing work by A Bit O'Gold

A Bit O'Gold, the star of the Day Phillips shed row, also worked five furlongs under Jones last Saturday but in the slightly more eye-catching clocking of 57 seconds. The move was by far the quickest of 47 drills at the distance.

"I thought I was going about 59," said Jones. "I really didn't ask him. Obviously, he has improved a lot."

Saturday's move was A Bit O'Gold's major tune-up for Monday's Grade 2, $300,000 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf. He has been assigned 120 pounds.

"I've honestly never seen anything like that; it was unbelievable," said Day Phillips of the work. "It was even more unbelievable the way he came back after. He didn't drink half a bucket of water, or have a wet hair on him."

A Bit O'Gold, Canada's champion 3-year-old male last year, comes into the Niagara off a victory in the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre over 1 3/8 miles of turf here July 24.

Elle Runaway works swiftly

Elle Runaway also turned plenty of heads here last Saturday morning after blazing four furlongs in 45.20 on the main track under exercise rider Mark Ramsammy. The next-fastest of 17 workers at the distance was timed in 48.20.

"It wasn't as if he was asking her for her life," said trainer Malcolm Pierce. "Obviously the track had some good bounce to it."

Elle Runway is slated to run in Saturday's $125,000 Ontario Colleen Handicap, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies. She comes into the Colleen off a four-length score in a one-mile turf race. She had worked five furlongs in a bullet 58.80 on the training track turf course six days prior to that victory.

Half Sister sharp in training

Half Sister turned in her fastest workout to date here Tuesday morning, going four furlongs in 46.80 on the training track.

Trained by Mike Keogh, Half Sister is a 2-year-old half-sister to Wando, the former Canadian champion who was retired to stud early this summer and is preparing for his new career at Lane's End Farm.

Half Sister also has an unraced 3-year-old half-sister named Full Sister, who is a full sister to Wando.

* James H. Brown, 63, a licensing agent with the Ontario Racing Commission for more than 20 years, died last month in Fort Erie's Douglas Memorial Hospital.