08/16/2005 11:00PM

Knights Templar can improve off last


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Saturday's $136,875 Ontario Debutante Stakes has attracted a competitive group of seven 2-year-old fillies, and one who may be slightly overlooked is Knights Templar.

A Florida-bred trained by Danny Vella, Knights Templar will be making her fourth start Saturday and will be looking for her second victory. After scoring in her debut at 4 1/2 furlongs on May 21, Knights Templar finished fifth after encountering trouble on the turn in the five-furlong My Dear here July 2. Most recently, on July 28, Knights Templar finished second in a first-level allowance at six furlongs, which was won by Sudsy Baby, the runner-up in the My Dear and one of the leading candidates for the Ontario Debutante.

"She missed a little training between her last two races and came up a little empty in the last eighth of a mile," said Vella, referring to Knights Templar's latest effort. "She had dead aim on the winner turning for home, but she didn't explode. It was a good, solid effort, but all in all, I think she'll improve vastly. Her last two works were very good."

Constant Montpellier retains the mount on Knights Templar, who will break from post 6.

The balance of the field, in post order, will be Gloria's Legacy, Tasha's Delight, Sudsy Baby, Top Notch Lady, One Ring, and Truly Blushed.

Both Tasha's Delight and Top Notch Lady are trained by Mark Casse, who will be at Monmouth on Saturday to saddle Ballado Dancer for the Grade 3 Sapling.

From there, Casse will head to Florida for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. yearling sales and then will be at Saratoga next Thursday to send out Accountforthegold in the $150,000 Albany.

Bay Sweetie Babe going for first stakes

Bay Sweetie Babe will be looking for her first stakes victory in Sunday's $125,000 Victoriana, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares.

Owned by Raymond Kong and trained by Danny O'Callaghan, Bay Sweetie Babe finished second in two Ontario-sired stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the main track last season. Although Bay Sweetie Babe is unplaced in two turf starts, O'Callaghan said he believes she is capable on the surface.

"She didn't run bad on it, and she ran against some decent fillies," said O'Callaghan, who watched Bay Sweetie Babe finish fourth in the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where and fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Carotene.

More important, Bay Sweetie Babe has raced just once this season, winning under second-level allowance terms at 1 1/16 miles May 15.

"I couldn't get races to go for her; that was half the problem," said O'Callaghan. "Then, she ended up hurting herself. She didn't miss a whole lot of time training, but I couldn't put a whole lot of pressure on her. I didn't want to get her all ready for races that didn't fill."

Bay Sweetie Babe has been prepping steadily over the past month, with her latest move a four-furlong breeze in 48.80 seconds here Monday.

"This filly's really good right now," said O'Callaghan.

Attfield stays positive with Ablo

Ablo, who faltered badly to finish last of 11 in last Sunday's West Virginia Derby, is none the worse for the experience, according to trainer Roger Attfield.

"He got dusted, but he came back okay," said Attfield. "The race probably didn't set up the way it could have for him, with that speed horse going head and head with him right off the bat. But the bottom line is, he was stepping up in competition."

Attfield said he would have preferred to run Ablo against older Ontario-foaled horses here last Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile Izvestia, an overnight stakes, but the race failed to fill.

Ablo could make his next start in the Elgin, a 1 1/16-mile race for colts and geldings. The Elgin is one of six $125,000 yearling sales stakes on the Sept. 4 program.

Day Phillips targets Labor Day weekend

Jambalaya and A Bit O'Gold, the two big horses in the Catherine Day Phillips barn, could see action at different locales over the Labor Day weekend.

Jambalaya, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Stakes here Aug. 7, could make his next start in the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac, a 1 3/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds at Saratoga on Sept. 4.

A Bit O'Gold, winner of the Grade 2 Chinese Cultural Centre at 1 3/8 miles of turf here July 24, is on target for the Grade 2, $300,000 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap here Sept. 5. The Niagara is a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Jono Jones rides both Jambalaya and A Bit O'Gold.

* Day Phillips and Jones will be Jennifer Morrison's guests at Saturday's session of "Early Morning Workouts." Morrison, Woodbine's oddsmaker and a freelance contributor to Daily Racing Form, hosts the free gathering from 8 to 10 a.m. here in the trackside tent.

* Jim Bannon, Woodbine television host and handicapper, will offer the latest in his series of free one-hour teaching seminars beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday on the second floor of the grandstand.