10/06/2003 12:00AM

Kent Ridge set to improve


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Kent Ridge figures to be a solid contender in Wednesday's $129,250 Frost King Stakes, a seven-furlong dash at Woodbine for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.

Kent Ridge, who is from the first crop of 1998 Queen's Plate winner Archers Bay, graduated his second-time out in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special on July 5 and finished second in the Bull Page Stakes. He has been absent since running fourth in an Aug. 17 allowance on the grass.

Mark Casse, who trains Kent Ridge for Eugene and Laura Melnyk, says he believes the colt will be a better runner now than he was in the summer.

"I ran him a lot early when there really wasn't a whole lot for him," Casse recalled. "I tried him on the turf and wasn't overly impressed. He's about the only Archers Bay that I've tried on the grass who hasn't moved up on it. Then I backed off on him a little, and it seemed to help him because his last couple works have been good."

Also entered in the Frost King are Archers Bow, Baghran, Apalachee Cola, Executive Willie, and Copper Trail.

Baghran should do some damage in his initial start off a $50,000 claim by trainer John Cardella.

Cardella, who has won at a 23-percent clip his first-time off the claim, said he took Baghran on Sept. 28 with the Frost King in mind. Baghran was scheduled to run for $50,000 on Sept. 19, but the card was canceled because of bad weather.

"I liked the horse from the first time he won," Cardella recalled. "I had a claim made out for him on the morning the races were canceled, and I was going to take him that afternoon because I knew he was eligible for the (Frost King), but then they called the races off. When he ran back for $50,000, I took him. I thought he was worth the money. He needs a little bit of work on him, but he's 100 percent sound."

Cardella admitted the timing of the Frost King isn't ideal for Baghran.

"I don't like running horses too close together," Cardella said. "It would have been nice if I'd gotten him the day they called the races off because I would have had him for almost three weeks. The timing would have been perfect."

Copper Trail, trained by Jim Day for Stolar Stable, graduated in the restricted Juvenile Stakes at Fort Erie on Sept. 21.