09/26/2006 12:00AM

High hopes await Le Cinquieme Essai in 2007

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While Le Cinquieme Essai walked the shed row here on a quiet Tuesday morning at Woodbine, his trainer, Paul Nielsen, couldn't help but wonder what might have been.

On Aug. 26, Le Cinquieme Essai had defeated California shipper Becrux to win the Grade 2 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race that is the major local prep for the $1 million Woodbine Mile. But when the Woodbine Mile was run on Sept.o17, Le Cinquieme Essai was out with a season-ending injury. Becrux went on to give trainer Neil Drysdale a third victory in the race.

"It was just a slight tear in a branch of his suspensory," said Nielsen. "I couldn't breeze him the way he was and certainly couldn't take him over there with a clear conscience. The way the race unfolded, I think he would have been 1-2-3."

Le Cinquieme Essai had finished second in his first three outings this season while competing in stakes company. Nielsen said he is looking forward to Le Cinquieme Essai's 2007 campaign.

"I'll start him up in January," said Nielsen. "He should be as good as new. He's developed into a world-class horse. They don't come along very often."

Becrux works for Shadwell Mile

Becrux, who has been based at Woodbine since checking in for the Play the King, breezed four furlongs in 48.80 seconds on the Polytrack surface here last Sunday and is on target for the Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 7.

Becrux is slated to ship out Monday along with new stablemate Streets Ahead, a 2-year-old colt who finished fourth in his North American debut in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes here Sept. 17.

Streets Ahead, formerly trained by Andrew Balding, breezed three furlongs in 36.80 on the Polytrack here Tuesday.

Jambalaya gears up for next start

Jambalaya, beaten a head as the runner-up here in last Sunday's Grade 2 Sky Classic, will be looking to make his next start in the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International at 1 1/2 miles Oct. 22.

"He thinks he won," said Catherine Day Phillips, who trains Jambalaya for her own Kingfield Farm. "He's very happy and proud of himself."

Jambalaya has been competitive in all six of his starts this season, but he registered his only win in the Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile overnight stakes here June 25.

"Things really didn't go his way earlier this year," said Day Phillips. "He's been running well, he just hasn't been putting it all together. He's getting bigger now, like an older horse should be. He's filling out a little bit."

Jambalaya has recorded his three stakes wins over firm turf courses, but he raced on "off" going for the third straight time in the Sky Classic.

"Maybe in one of these marathon turf races, we won't have a yielding course," said Day Phillips.

Locals return from successful trip

Head Chopper and Ok Nothanksforaskn, the two-three finishers in a dramatic British Columbia Derby at Hastings last Sunday, arrived back at Woodbine early Tuesday morning.

Head Chopper, under Justin Stein, rallied strongly and finished second by a nose. Ok Nothanksforaskn, under Emma-Jayne Wilson, finished another neck back in third after dueling through quick fractions with eventual winner Halo Steven.

Head Chopper was the first Hastings entrant for trainer Steve Owens, who had high praise for Head Chopper's demeanor.

"He shipped top-notch," said Owens. "He was a trouper. He never left an oat when he got there, and he bounced out of the race like he never even ran."

Stein, meanwhile, is scheduled to sit out the first three cards here in October after withdrawing his appeal of an earlier ruling.

Malakoff out for the season

Malakoff, who finished first in the Prince of Wales on July 16 but was disqualified and placed fifth, has been on the shelf at Adena Springs North for the past two months and will not race again this season.

"It's not a career-ending injury," said Mike Rogers, a spokesman for Malakoff's owner, Stronach Stable. "He just needs time. He's probably going to need six months."

Malakoff romped in the Grade 3 Marine here May 20 and finished third in the Queen's Plate before running in the Prince of Wales. Trainer Brian Lynch and jockey Todd Kabel have appealed the disqualification to the Ontario Racing Commission, and a hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 13.

Shillelagh Slew, who was moved up to first in the Prince of Wales, went on to finish third in the Breeders' Stakes here and win the Canadian Derby at Northlands Park.

Royal Challenger, who was moved up to third in the Prince of Wales, won the Breeders' and then finished in a dead heat for first with Ok Nothanksforaskn in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack prep for the Ontario Derby.

Shillelagh Slew and Royal Challenger will have their rubber match in the Grade 3, $200,000 Ontario Derby at 1 1/8 miles here Sunday.