05/29/2001 11:00PM

King hoping for a Devastating Oaks victory


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Robbie King has had a jockey's-eye view of the Canadian Oaks, having ridden in the race three times. But this year the 37-year-old King is approaching the Oaks from a different perspective, as the trainer of the filly Devastating.

Owned by the Orange Blossom Stable of British Columbia-based Ralph and Linda Bodine, Devastating goes for her third straight victory in the June 9 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

An Ontario-bred daughter of Bold n' Flashy, Devastating was 22-1 when she won a first-level allowance at seven furlongs here May 11, and almost 7-1 when she won at the next condition over 1 1/16 miles here last Friday.

"This filly's a speed horse," said King, who won Sovereign Awards as Canada's outstanding apprentice jockey in both 1983 and 1984. "The only time she's been behind horses is when she got left."

That fate befell Devastating Oct. 27 in her debut here, a five-furlong race for $80,000 claimers.

"She didn't break," said King, "but then she made a nice run, up the fence."

Devastating, who was beaten by three-quarters of a length as the runner-up that day, started twice more as a 2-year-old, finishing fourth over seven furlongs in the slop before graduating impressively when cut back to five furlongs.

King said she did not get away alertly in her 2001 bow, a five-furlong allowance in which she tired to finish sixth under jockey Jake Barton.

"Jake rushed her up there," said King, "and she got bounced around. She came back all cut up; she definitely got stepped on. It was very near her tendon and suspensories. It could have been the end of her career."

Since then, Devastating has proved herself a fighter.

Under Frank Todd, Devastating stood a long drive to score by a head in the seven-furlong allowance, and then came on again after bearing out and losing the lead to prevail by three-quarters of a length over Lady Angela winner Moonlight Affair in a two-turn race.

"She doesn't give up," said King. "She's very tough."

The trainer acknowledges that Devastating will have to call upon all of that quality if she's to do any serious damage in the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, in which she'll be stretching out to 1 1/8 miles and facing her strongest opposition to date.

"She trains like she wants to run long," said King. "What concerns me more is the time factor. This would be her third race in 29 days. I don't think it's ideal.

"She runs hard; she gives it everything she's got every time she runs. Her last race knocked her out a little. She tried her eyeballs out."

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, King headed west to ride at Hastings Park in 1995, but left the racetrack the following spring after tiring of the ongoing struggle with weight. But he returned to Hastings the following spring, and obtained his trainer's license that summer after hooking up with the Bodines.

Last year, King relocated to his home province as private trainer for the Bodines, who wanted their horses to race on a one-mile track and were given extra impetus to race at Woodbine by the Thoroughbred industry's uncertain future in British Columbia.

King has gotten off to a solid start this year, with six wins from his first 16 entrants.

Robthevet, the only runner in the stable not owned by the Bodines, has won two races for King's assistant trainer and good friend April Friesen, graduating for $20,000 first out and upsetting a first-level allowance in his third start.

King's other Orange Blossom winners have been Justfor Lindsayloo, who won an allowance race here April 13, and Bridgeport, who was claimed for $50,000 from a win on April 27.

Six entered for Saturday's Plate Trial

Six horses were entered Wednesday for Saturday's $162,750 Plate Trial at 1 1/8 miles.

Win City, coming off back-to-back scores in the Queenston and Marine, will begin from post 2 under regular rider Constant Montpellier.

Opposing Win City, the favorite, in post order, are Legal Heir, Brushing Bully, Highland Legacy, Millennium Allstar, and Won Strike. Legal Heir and Highland Legacy, both owned by Empress Stable, will run as en entry.

All starters carry 126 pounds, the same weight they will carry in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate here June 24.

The Plate Trial will be televised on Sportsnet National in a one-hour show beginning at 3:30 p.m.