05/05/2006 12:00AM

Gumboots faces 8 rivals in Oaks prep

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Gumboots and eight other Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies will prep for the June 11 Woodbine Oaks on Sunday in the $150,000 Fury Stakes at Woodbine.

The seven-furlong Fury has been a successful Oaks prep, producing four consecutive winners, from 1997-2000.

Gumboots notched her first two starts at 2, including the Fanfreluche Stakes. After running third behind the talented duo of Top Notch Lady and Angel on Watch in the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes here in November, she wintered at Santa Anita.

Gumboots won a five-furlong allowance prep for the Star Shoot Stakes in her season opener, even though she was compromised by the distance, according to trainer Josie Carroll.

"We were a little concerned that it wasn't the ideal distance for her," Carroll said, "but I thought I needed to get a race into her. Even though it was a little short for her, I knew that she'd be finishing. I was just hoping that she'd get there."

The Star Shoot itself was postponed a week until April 30 because of a cancellation, leading Carroll to scratch Gumboots in favor of the Fury.

"It just changed my plans," Carroll said. "I scratched her out of the Star Shoot to get the seven-eighths in. She's been training really well."

The Fury field also includes the Dream Lover, Like a Gem, Our Madison, and Classical Miss.

Dream Lover is undefeated in two starts, both in Ontario-sired company. After winning her maiden June 4, she was sidelined for the remainder of 2005 with a hairline fracture.

In her return to action April 8, Dream Lover dueled up front in a five-furlong allowance, before edging away for a relatively slow victory. Trainer Laurie Silvera is optimistic about her chances in the Fury.

"I don't know if she's of the caliber of these, but the way she's been working, I think she can hold her own," Silvera said.

Like a Gem captured a first-level allowance in her second start of the meeting. She dropped a neck decision in the mile and a sixteenth Ontario Lassie Stakes in December to Our Madison, who hasn't run since then.

Classical Miss was winless in eight starts at 2, the best of which was probably a third-place finish in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She won her maiden comfortably in her season opener, looking like a vastly improved runner.