07/08/2003 11:00PM

Illusive Force will try turf


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Illusive Force arrived from Vancouver this spring with designs on the Queen's Plate.

Although his quest began on a promising note with fourth-place finishes in both the Marine and Victoria Park, Illusive Force faltered badly to finish last of 12 in the 1 1/4-mile Plate.

But Illusive Force still has some unfinished business at Woodbine, and the 3-year-old gelding, trained by Rob VanOverschot, will try turf for the first time in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup.

"He's never set foot on it," said Lani VanOverschot, wife and assistant to the trainer, who has been here with Illusive Force since mid-May.

VanOverschot said Mickey Walls, who retired from a highly successful riding career this spring, had worked Illusive Force prior to the Plate and suggested he might like the grass.

"Mickey said he'd like to see the horse try turf," said VanOverschot. "He has a big, long stride."

Illusive Force, who also has some turf leanings in his pedigree, will be ridden for the first time by Jim McAleney and will face five rivals in the Toronto Cup.

Mobil, the Plate runner-up, will be the 122-pound highweight, conceding one pound to Moonshine Hall, winner of the Charlie Barley over a mile of turf here Plate Day.

Lord Shogun, who also came east to test his mettle for the VanOverschots, has returned to Alberta after being soundly beaten in two outings.

"He just didn't like it here," said Lani Von Overschot. "He never ate up; he just had a tough go of it. It's not like him the spit the bit. In his last race, he didn't try at all."

Lord Shogun, undefeated in four starts last year, was a Sovereign Award finalist in the 3-year-old male division.

Lord Shogun's new base will be Northlands Park. His caretaker there will be Dianne Dondo, a former Van Overschot assistant.

New rule could affect payoffs

A couple of recent changes in Canadian Parimutuel Agency regulations may have escaped the general notice of horseplayers here.

One involves the cutoff for offsite wagers coming into the Woodbine pools. Such bets now must either be combined into Woodbine's pools prior to the end of the race, or be refunded.

Steve Mitchell, vice president, wagering, for the Woodbine Entertainment Group, cited a recent example:

The betting pool from Penn National on a Woodbine race on Plate Day, June 22, failed to be transferred without interruption before the end of the race, he said. Therefore, the bets were not accepted and they were refunded.

The amount involved was not significant but if wagers from a track that handles a lot of money on Woodbine's races were to not make it in time, the odds could change after the money was refunded.

"Some of the partners are much bigger than others," said Mitchell, "and if it did become one of the big guys that we had to refund, then we may see a change in the odds as a result of that."

Mitchell says the issue is technological, and Woodbine has hired a consultant to assist in addressing it.

"We really only have one timely transfer mechanism to get pools transferred from around North America," he said, adding that what is needed is a backup system.

"That, to us, is the preferred solution, but it's obviously going to take a while to develop," he said.

The other CPMA amendment involves the rare instances when payoffs are posted based on an incorrect order of finish and the error is soon discovered.

"The old regulations said you had to pay off entirely on the wrong set of prices and you have to pay off again entirely on the correct set of prices," said Mitchell.

"Whereas, the standard across North America is as soon as you spot a mistake you stop paying the incorrect prices, correct it, and pay fully the correct prices."

That model now will be followed in Canada, and has the potential of creating an unusual situation for wagering account-holders.

"What they've instructed us to do for account wagering is actually make sure that everyone gets paid based on the correct version," said Mitchell.

"So if money went in for you on an incorrect version, that will actually be retracted and the correct amount will be deposited."

Cheap Talk undergoes surgery

Cheap Talk, one of the top sprinters here, underwent surgery to remove a small chip from his left front ankle on Monday.

"He could come back in three months," said Bob Tiller, who trains Cheap Talk and is a co-owner along with assistant trainer Tom Lottridge. "Or he could come back next year and be good as new, I hope."

Cheap Talk, a 4-year-old New York-bred gelding who was a $2,700 yearling purchase, has banked $452,881 and was a Sovereign Award finalist in the sprint division last year.