07/12/2004 12:00AM

Hour of Justice wins in return

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mike Keogh signed on as a trainer for Stronach Stable this spring, and saddled his first winner for the outfit here Sunday when Hour of Justice took the prep for the Royal North Handicap.

Hour of Justice was just the second Stronach starter for Keogh and his first career winner for any owner other than Gustav Schickedanz.

Keogh took on some additional clients last year after beginning his career as a private trainer for owner and breeder Schickedanz in 1993.

Hour of Justice, a 4-year-old filly, was a stakes winner of $166,195 in four starts last year for trainer Reade Baker.

Sunday's open allowance race, over six furlongs of turf, was her first appearance in almost 11 months.

"There was a money allowance race I tried to go in with her earlier, but it didn't go," said Keogh. "She'll be coming back in the Royal North. She sure goes nice on turf."

The Royal North, a six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares here Aug. 2, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

I'm the Tiger wins Bold Venture

Team Stronach struck again later on Sunday's card when trainer Danny Vella, the outfit's main trainer here, sent out I'm the Tiger to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths in the $141,250 Bold Venture.

I'm the Tiger was the 11th stakes win of the meeting for leading jockey Todd Kabel, who also rode Hour of Justice.

"He ran like he should," said Vella, who took over as I'm the Tiger's trainer at Gulfstream this winter. "He's a good horse."

I'm the Tiger, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old gelding, had finished second in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier here opening day, April 17, but was last of eight when trying turf for the first time in his only subsequent start here June 6.

"It seemed to take him a while to get over shipping," said Vella. "We freshened him a bit; he tried the turf, and didn't like it."

I'm the Tiger will get another breather while Vella surveys the local landscape in search of an appropriate spot. "I won't run him too often," said Vella. "It doesn't seem like he wants a heavy schedule."

That may be just as well since the next open stakes for the older male main-track sprint division is the $125,000 Kennedy Road, a six-furlong race here Dec. 11.

Velvet Snow upsets Ontario Damsel

Velvet Snow, making just her fourth career start and coming off her maiden win over one mile of turf, was the upset winner of Saturday's $161,400 Ontario Damsel.

A homebred 3-year-old filly owned by Frank DiGiulio and trained by Bob Tiller, Velvet Snow was the first stakes winner for Corey Fraser, an up-and-coming apprentice rider here.

"We were just trying to get some black type for her," said Tiller, who was winning his seventh stakes of the meeting. "I thought she had a shot to be third if she really fired. The turf had a little give to it, and when she came running we got lucky."

Tiller points out that Velvet Snow's fondness for grass should be no particular surprise since her dam, Noir Velours, was "great on turf."

Campaigning for DiGiulio and his late father, Frank, Noir Velours raced 14 times on the grass, winning three and finishing in the money nine times while banking $110,582. Her best effort was a second-place finish in the 1998 Dance Smartly.

Velvet Snow will be nominated to the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for Canadian-bred fillies here Aug. 1.

"The mile and a quarter is a question," said Tiller. "Up to a mile, or a mile and a sixteenth, I'd say she'd be a very good turf filly."

California invader impressive

On Saturday, Tiller unveiled the first of three new runners who came to him via California.

Seattlespectacular, owned by Karen and Mickey Taylor of Seattle Slew fame in partnership with actor Albert Finney, was an impressive winner of a first-level allowance going seven furlongs.

"I think he's a nice horse," said Tiller. "Time will tell."

Slew's Saga, an unraced 2-year-old colt who is nominated to Saturday's Clarendon but will probably await a maiden race, and Sashaying Slew, a 4-year-old filly eligible for the first allowance condition, are the other Taylor/Finney runners in Tiller's barn.

All three, naturally enough, are by Seattle Slew.

Wando gets extended training break

The news from the Keogh barn was not so good here Monday morning as plans for Wando, Canada's reigning horse of the year, have hit another snag.

"He was full of mucus again," said Keogh, who scoped Wando after the colt breezed last Friday. "I'll turn him out for a week; he can't breeze for the next three weeks."

Wando had missed some training time after emerging from his fourth-place finish here in the June 19 King Edward Breeders' Cup with a high white blood cell count.

His next target had been the $125,000 Seagram Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race here Aug. 7, but Keogh and Schickedanz have a very capable substitute for that race in Mobil.

In his last start, here on July 1, Mobil won the 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day Handicap by 12 3/4 lengths.