08/25/2005 12:00AM

I Thee Wed deserving of a second look


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - I Thee Wed was sent off at 26-1 when he won the Grade 2 Nearctic Handicap over six furlongs on "good" turf here last fall. Though his price doesn't figure to be quite that long in Saturday's Grade 2 Play the King, I Thee Wed is still well worth considering as a longshot play.

A seven-furlong turf race, the Play the King has attracted 13 entrants.

"I think it's a very competitive, tough race," said David Bell, who conditions I Thee Wed for the Pin Oak Stable of Josephine Abercrombie. "We hemmed and hawed about going in there, but I kept looking at my horse's form, too, and I think he's one of the competitors."

A 5-year-old gelding, I Thee Wed won a six-furlong prep for the Highlander Handicap in his second start of the season here June 5. He ran sixth in the Highlander itself, however, finishing 4 3/4 lengths behind Soaring Free, and then finished third in the Play the King prep, beaten 3 1/2 lengths. Both of those races came over firm going, with Jim McAleney aboard for the Highlander and Todd Kabel aboard for the first time in the prep.

"In the Highlander, he just kind of threw a bad one," said Bell. "He didn't really fire. He moved a little early, maybe, and loomed up beside Soaring Free but didn't want to go with him. And in his last race, with the small field, he was a little rank early. There was nothing Todd could do about it."

Bell said he believes the Play the King scenario will suit I Thee Wed much better.

"It's kind of interesting; the speed's all outside," said Bell. "There's enough for him to cover up behind. And he's in good shape."

I Thee Wed worked five furlongs in 58.20 seconds here last Sunday, the fastest of 61 works over the distance on a fast main track. Jono Jones was aboard for that drill and will ride I Thee Wed for the first time in the Play the King.

"He broke off behind another horse and ate dirt for three-eighths of a mile," said Bell. "It was a nice easy work, even though it was fast."

Katryan works two stakes runners

Quick in Deed and Ever So Free, a pair of yearling sales stakes contenders conditioned by Abraham Katryan, worked five furlongs in 1:00 while going in company over a fast main track here Thursday morning. Both had their regular riders aboard, with Ray Sabourin on Quick in Deed and Rui Pimentel on Ever So Free.

Quick in Deed is aiming for the Kenora, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward that is one of six $125,000 yearling sales stakes on the Sept. 4 program. Ever So Free is aiming for another of those yearling sales stakes, the Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for colts and geldings ages 3 and up.

Quick in Deed finished second to subsequent stakes winner Verne's Baby in his 2005 debut. Quick in Deed then put together a four-race win streak, including stakes scores in the Bold Ruckus over six furlongs on yielding turf and the Achievement at six furlongs on the main track. The streak was snapped last time out, when Quick in Deed, favored at 3-5, finished a well-beaten third in the seven-furlong Deputy Minister.

"He just got a little bit tired," said Katryan. "I'd run him four times in the space of a month and a half. It was just the way the races came up. They were hard to pass up."

Following the Deputy Minister on July 20, Quick in Deed spent a couple of weeks on the farm of Kelynack Racing Stable principal Glenn Harvey.

"He came back really good," said Katryan. "He's in great shape right now."

Ever So Free, a 3-year-old gelding who also races for Kelynack, is undefeated in two career starts, which came during a 10-day span here in July. After winning at first asking over six furlongs July 21, Ever So Free stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and rallied to take a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and upward.

"After he won his second start, we figured we'd give him a shot in this stakes race," said Katryan of the Elgin. "We didn't want to pressure him. We gave him a month off. He's going in nice and fresh."

Just in Case Jimmy not defending title

Just in Case Jimmy, a 4-year-old gelding who became a stakes winner in last year's edition of the Elgin, will not be in the lineup this year.

"He has a splint," said trainer Roger Attfield, referring to a minor leg injury. "He'll be out for a little bit."

Attfield said he still hopes to have Ablo run in the Elgin. A 3-year-old colt, Ablo would be making his first start against older rivals. He won the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales at Fort Erie on July 17, and then finished last of 11 in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby over 1 1/8 miles at Mountaineer Park last out Aug. 14.

Smith charged with fraud

Leslie Smith, a former financial administrator with the Ontario Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, has been charged with one count of criminal breach of trust and one count of fraud over $5,000.

The charges followed a seven-month probe by the Ontario Provincial Police's Ontario Racing Commission Investigative Unit, in cooperation with Toronto Police Service.

In a press release Wednesday, the Ontario Racing Commission said the charges were related to irregular banking transactions involving Ontario's Owners' Awards Program. Smith, 42, is to appear in court Sept. 23.