08/08/2005 12:00AM

Jambalaya steals some thunder

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Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Jambalaya and jockey Jono Jones win the $501,600 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Jambalaya may not be quite ready to assume the mantle of stable star in the Catherine Day Phillips barn, thanks to the presence of a rather illustrious barnmate named A Bit O'Gold.

But at least Jambalaya has earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as A Bit O'Gold, now that he followed that one's example by romping to an eight-length victory in Sunday's $501,600 at Woodbine.

And Jambalaya deserves some slack because the Breeders' was only his sixth career start and his stakes debut whereas A Bit O'Gold was making his ninth career appearance and capping a perfect attendance record in last year's Canadian Triple Crown series in his Breeders' victory.

Jambalaya, a 3-year-old gelding who runs for his trainer's Kingsfield Farm, came into the Breeders' off a first-level allowance victory over 1 3/8 miles on turf after graduating at 1 1/16 miles on turf in his debut.

"His confidence has blossomed since he switched to the turf," said Day Phillips, who admitted that her own hopes rose following Jambalaya's final work for the Breeders', a five-furlongs drill on the training track in a bullet 59.80 seconds on July 30.

"He's the only horse who's ever worked like that for me except A Bit O'Gold," said Day Phillips.

Phillips admitted to having prerace jitters before the relatively non-eventful running of the Breeders' itself.

"His manners in the paddock weren't perfect," said Day Phillips. "He had schooled so much and been so good; it wasn't really expected.

"He does have a sensitive side. He may have been feeling the tension of the moment."

Jambalaya also had to be blindfolded prior to entering the starting gate, as had been the case in his previous start.

"He's still playful and green," said Day Phillips. "That showed up again Sunday."

Day Phillips said she might look south for Jambalaya's next race, since there are no stakes for 3-year-olds running long on the turf through the balance of the Woodbine meeting.

"I prefer not to run him against older horses, at this stage," said Day Phillips. "I'll definitely look around. I'll see how he comes out of this race. It's hard to stop on a healthy, happy horse."

Jones wins third stakes

The Breeders' was the third stakes winner of the meeting for jockey Jono Jones, the other two coming aboard A Bit O'Gold. The Breeders' win was also his third winner on Sunday's program.

The big day came at a good time for Jones, who will be sitting out a suspension on the Wednesday through Friday cards.

A Bit O'Gold aims for Canadian International

A Bit O'Gold, who made his first start on turf since the Breeders' when he won the 1 3/8-mile Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes here July 24, might make his next start in the Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 5.

The Niagara, a 1 1/2-mile turf race, is a Grade 2 and it has a purse of $300,000.

"He's aiming toward the Canadian International," said Day Phillips. "The best road to there is the one he'll be taking. The idea is to peak in October."

The Pattison Canadian International, a Grade 1 race over 1 1/2 miles on turf, will offer a record purse of $2 million here Oct. 23.

Arlington takes commingled wagers

Those who bet on Arlington Park at Canadian racetracks will be wagering directly into the Arlington pools, commencing Wednesday.

Incorporating Canadian wagers directly into United States pools was made possible last fall when the U.S. eliminated its 30 percent withholding tax on bets made from outside the country. The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, a federal regulatory body, gave the green light to begin commingling in mid-June.

Standardbred racetracks in Illinois and Ohio were the first to offer commingled pools with Canada, beginning with Balmoral in Illinois on July 5. Northfield, in Ohio, and Hawthorne and Maywood, also in Illinois, followed in short order.

Hastings, in Vancouver, British Columbia, was the first Canadian racetrack to offer commingled Thoroughbred wagering. Patrons there began betting directly into the Emerald Downs pools last Thursday.

Sophia's Prince wins in record time

Sophia's Prince was an impressive winner of Sunday's supporting feature, the $126,200 Shepperton, in a track-record clocking of 1:14.56 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

The Shepperton, for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up, was the first stakes win for Sophia's Prince, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Joan Agro, and the second career stakes win for trainer John LeBlanc Jr. He sent out Hopeful Moment to victory in the 2001 Shepperton.

Sophia's Prince has won all three of his 2005 starts, all under regular rider Simon Husbands.

"He's done everything right, all year long," said LeBlanc. "I was expecting a big race. I thought he really should win it. But the time was phenomenal."

The $125,000 Overskate, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up here Sept. 21, is the next logical target for Sophia's Prince. "The timing is perfect," said LeBlanc.

Barbeau Ruckus loses encounter with fan

Barbeau Ruckus, one of the favorites for the Shepperton, was a late scratch. "He kicked one of the fans in his stall the other day, and his leg blew up," said trainer Ross Armata.

Barbeau Ruckus will be pointed toward the $125,000 Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred colts and geldings, which is one of six yearling sales stakes on the Sept. 4 card.

* U R Flashy became a stakes winner in Saturday's feature, the $125,800 Nandi for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies. It was the seventh stakes win of the meet for trainer Reade Baker.