06/06/2001 11:00PM

High Commissioner facing just four


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The first time High Commissioner came to town, he was treated to a rude reception.

Sent off as the 4-5 choice in the 1 1/16-mile Marine here May 19, High Commissioner was unable to fend off the charging Win City, who went on to record his third straight victory in the Plate Trial and confirm himself a top candidate for the Queen's Plate.

High Commissioner certainly wasn't disgraced in his second-place finish, however, and again will be solidly supported when he faces just four rivals in the $107,800 Victoria Park, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds that is the supporting feature here Labatt Woodbine Oaks Day.

"He's doing excellent," said New York-based Jim Bond, who trains High Commissioner for the Rudlein Stable and William Clifton. "He looks fabulous."

A Kentucky-bred 3-year-old, High Commissioner was making just his third career appearance here while coming off a 4 3/4-length graduation over one mile at Aqueduct five weeks earlier.

The colt returned to his Saratoga base after the Marine and prepped five furlongs there Monday in 1:00.80 in company with older stablemate Pleasant Breeze, a 6-year-old who is a Grade 2 winner and was a close second behind Sir Bear in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap this March.

"They went head-and-head for five-eighths," said Bond, "and they galloped out in 1:13.80. It was pretty strong."

Looking to play the role of spoiler and quite possible capable of rising to the challenge is locally based Dream Launcher, a promising Kentucky-bred who is owned and trained by Audre Cappuccitti.

After finishing second in his lone start at 2, Dream Launcher was a bang-up second making his 2001 bow here in the six-furlong Woodstock. And he has been untouchable in two subsequent engagements, graduating at seven furlongs and romping in a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles here on June 1 under jockey Todd Kabel.

Cappuccitti, who was eyeing the Victoria Park before Dream Launcher's first two-turn attempt, worried about the proximity of the stake.

"I said to Todd, 'Look, if he does this easily, without any exertion, we'll probably head for the stake if he comes out okay,' " said the owner- trainer. "And he did it real easily; I don't think Todd ever tapped him. And he came out of the race great, just great; I've never had a horse come out of a race so good.

"Usually I walk them three days, and this guy I just walked two days and he just was bucking and kicking and I had to send him out. I've never had to do that before with a horse."

High Commissioner will break from post 4 under returning rider Robert Landry, with Dream Launcher beginning immediately to his outside under Kabel.

The Victoria Park is positioned as the final major stakes stepping-stone toward the June 24 Queen's Plate, but only one of this year's contestants is Canadian-bred.

Karluk, a Knob Hill Stable homebred trained by Jerry Meyer, finished seventh at seven furlongs in his only career appearance and remains eligible for the Plate.

Riders no strangers to top events

Either Landry or Kabel could be looking to pull off a stakes double when they come back in the Labatt Woodbine Oaks, with Landry riding Turner's Hall and Kabel getting the call on Penny Perfect.

Landry won last year's Oaks with Catch the Ring after taking the 1997 renewal with Capdiva. Kabel won the 1998 Oaks with Kirby's Song.

David Clark, winner of the 1983 Oaks with First Summer Day and the 1985 running with La Lorgnette, is in with a chance aboard Chamul in Saturday's renewal, while Mickey Walls, who partnered 1999 Oaks winner Touch Dial, has the mount on outsider Dancen in the Sun.

Tino Attard, trainer of Kirby's Song and Touch Dial, will be seeking his third win in as many Oaks attempts when he sends out the Stronach Stable Inc. entry of Go for Champagne and Kisbey.

Mac Benson, who trained La Lorgnette and 1993 Oaks winner Deputy Jane West, is represented this year by longshot Regal Snicker.

Other trainers entering Saturday's running with Oaks wins are Mark Frostad, who sent out Catch the Ring and will be seeking to repeat with Sam-Son Farm's Dancethruthedawn and Bob Anderson and Rod Ferguson's Penny Perfect, and Mike Doyle, who took the 1989 edition with Blondeinamotel and will saddle Chamul for Springfield Stable and Dura Racing.

San Mont Andreas wins turf stakes

San Mont Andreas survived a front-end battle in his turf debut to take the $107,200 Bold Ruckus Stakes at Woodbine Wednesday.

San Mont Andreas dueled with Tobias in the six-furlong dash through fractions of 22.77 and 46.16 seconds. Tobias began to weaken nearing the eighth pole, where San Mont Andreas opened up a two-length lead under Simon Husbands.

San Mont Andreas was never seriously threatened in the final furlong and won by 1 1/4 lengths over 18-1 shot Kings Reception. Fogerty was another two lengths back in third, while favored Attobigboy finished fifth in the nine-horse field of Ontario-sired 3-year-olds. The final time, over a firm course, was 1:11.45.

San Mont Andreas, the 124-pound highweight, paid $10.80 and headed an exactor worth $127.60. He earned $64,320 for owners Ronald and Arlene Christman and trainer Desmond Maynard, who campaigned him last year, when he won the Clarendon and Vandal Stakes.

* Jim Mazur and Jim Bannon will conduct a handicapping seminar focusing on the Belmont Stakes here at 11 a.m. Saturday at Woodbine. The session will take place on the second floor, opposite the food court. Free copies of Mazur's "Belmont Zone" will be available while supplies last.

- additional reporting by Ron Gierkink