10/20/2006 12:00AM

If Ookashada can relax, he should handle distance

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Ookashada, who set fast fractions before drawing off to win the Jack Diamond Futurity by six lengths, will need to harness some of his speed if he's going to be able to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the $100,000 Ascot Graduation next Sunday.

Ookashada, who is trained by Toni Cloutier, didn't really show that much early lick in his first two starts. He ran evenly to finish fourth when he debuted in a maiden special weight race July 22. Cloutier was impressed enough to move Ookashada into stakes company for his second start, and he made a strong late move to finish third in the B.C. Cup Nursery Stakes.

In both races he broke from the rail, and according to Toni Cloutier's husband and assistant trainer, Mark Cloutier, Ookashada was pinned down on the rail each time.

"He didn't really show a lot of speed in his first two starts, so we got more aggressive with him and we really pushed the metal with him in the Futurity," said Mark Cloutier. "We just didn't want him getting into any trouble. Because of the way he ran in his first couple of starts, I'm pretty confident we can get him to relax enough to go a mile and a sixteenth."

Cloutier plans to work Ookashada six furlongs this weekend.

"We're going to start him off behind another horse just to see how that goes and to find out if he'll relax behind other horses," he said. "With his speed he just might end up in front in the Ascot anyway."

The Cloutiers have been high on Ookashada since they started training him this year. They ended up getting Ookashada when his original trainer, Dino Condilenios, became a private trainer for Swift Thoroughbreds this year.

"Dino was the one picked him out and bought him as a yearling," said Toni Cloutier. "He picked out a real nice one and we're fortunate that he recommended us to Michael and Tony."

Cloutier was referring to Michael Boylan and Anthony Zitko, the owners of Ookashada. Boylan races under the stable name PM Racing and Zitko is the lone member of T D Stable.

Cloutier said the Futurity was the first stakes win for Boylan.

"Michael understands that the Futurity is one of the elite races for 2-year-olds, and he just soaked it all in," she said. "They're both just thrilled to death and very excited about the horse."

Mark Cloutier considers Ookashada as one of the best 2-year-olds he has ever been around. That's saying a lot for someone who spent quite a few years as an exercise rider for local hall of fame trainer Dave Forster.

"Dave's had a lot of good ones over the years and I think Ookashada ranks right up there with some of his good ones," said Cloutier. "He's a big, strong, good-looking horse with a great attitude. He's very sociable and he's so kind around the barn that he could be someone's pet. I can't say enough nice things about him."

Jack might take two shots at Ascot repeat

The Ascot Graduation is shaping up with a full field, and the only horse who has gone the Ascot distance is Sin Toro. He won the 1 1/16-mile Canadian Juvenile at Northlands Park on Oct. 9. There's a good chance he will be coupled with Stephanson, who was very impressive here last weekend winning a maiden special weight race in his second start. Both horses were bred by their owner, Roland Embree, and are trained by Allan Jack.

"I think talent-wise it's hard to separate them," said Jack. "I would give the edge to Sin Toro right now because he's had a lot more experience and he's gone the distance. He's also bred to go long. He's by Holy Bull and his dam finished third in the B.C. Oaks."

The dam of Sin Toro is Withoutapproval and the Oaks Jack was referring to was the 2001 Oaks, which had one of the best fields ever assembled at Hastings. The winner, Collect Call, had placed in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, and the second-place finisher, Inish Glora, went on to become the champion turf female in Canada in 2003. Collect Call's first foal, Kauai Calls, is a 2-year-old filly that sold for $2 million. She won her debut in a maiden special weight race at Saratoga and followed up with a win in an entry-level allowance race, also at Saratoga. She went unplaced when she ran in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway Park on Sept. 30.

Jack won the Ascot last year with Stephanson's half-brother Regal Request.

"Actually, I'm hoping they'll put up a winner's race for Stephanson on the weekend," said Jack. "He just doesn't have the seasoning to take on what should be a pretty good field in the Ascot. He was pretty heavy when he came in and it's taken a long time to get him ready to run."