05/21/2005 12:00AM

Judiths Wild Rush's task tougher this time


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Judiths Wild Rush used his fitness edge to topple champions Mobil and A Bit O'Gold in the seven-furlong Vigil Handicap, but the tables could be turned Monday at Woodbine when they all meet again at 1 1/16 miles in the $164,850 Eclipse Handicap.

Judiths Wild Rush, who had a productive winter campaign in Florida, was beaten a nose in the six-furlong Jacques Carter Stakes here opening day, his first start for trainer Reade Baker. In the April 30 Vigil, he rallied wide under Slade Callaghan to mow down Mobil and A Bit O'Gold in the stretch to win by daylight.

"They were super races, and I thought he should have won them both," Baker said. "He had to work his way around a claiming horse in the Jacques Cartier, who kind of fell in front of him. I thought his last race was a doozy. Slade rode him great."

But Baker thinks the Grade 3 Eclipse isn't an ideal spot for Judiths Wild Rush.

"I would rather have kept him sprinting into the summer," Baker said, "but there aren't any sprint races right away for him, so we're going to give this a try. He won going this far as a baby, but he didn't seem to finish."

Mobil, last year's champion older runner, is the 124-pound highweight, which is what he carried when he finished second as the favorite in the Grade 3 Vigil.

Trainer Mike Keogh believes Mobil didn't see Judiths Wild Rush coming in the Vigil until it was too late.

"When he did finally see him, he swapped to his inside lead," Keogh said. "It was like it caught him by surprise. It was his first start in a long time, and I thought it was a huge race. The horse who beat him was making his seventh start of the year."

A Bit O'Gold, the reigning champion 3-year-old and runner-up for Canadian Horse of the Year honors in 2004, was also making his first start of the year in the Vigil. He had a wide stalking trip in the race, and wound up two lengths in arrears in third, receiving a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

"He ran a tremendous race," said trainer Catherine Day Phillips. "Going into it, I thought he was probably as fit as he was going to be without having run."

Stronach Stable, which has won the Eclipse Handicap each of the last two years, will be represented by 2004 winner Mark One and Daddy Cool in Monday's renewal.