09/12/2008 12:00AM

Koonunga Hill must ration speed


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Grade 3, $150,000 Natalma has often been a key stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Woodbine, but it has taken on added importance this year as a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race. The winner will earn a berth in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

Koonunga Hill won the prep for the one-mile Natalma, the seven-furlong Ice Water Stakes, in front-running style. Trainer Steve Owens said jockey Constant Montpellier had his hands full trying to dole out Koonunga Hill's speed in the Ice Water.

"Rather than fight her, Con decided to give her her head and hope that she would settle in," Owens said. "She did settle after a while, but she was a little rank the first part."

Owens said Koonunga Hill has trained forwardly in the interim.

"She came back and breezed another five-eighths on the turf," Owens said. "She handles the turf real well. She's really been training aggressively. She doesn't want anybody to go by her."

Lady Shakespeare, a full sister to last year's Woodbine Mile winner Shakespeare, could be favored in the one-mile event.

Lady Shakespeare came wide from off the pace to take her only outing in the slower split of a six-furlong maiden special on turf Aug. 15. Emma Wilson rode her for trainer Roger Attfield.

"Leading into the race, she was doing all the right things," Wilson said. "When she ran, it was a matter of getting a good experience into her. I just let her settle and come with a run. At first, she didn't know what 'go' meant, because we hadn't really set her down before. Once she realized what the ticket was, she finished up like a bear."

Poppin led throughout the faster split of that Aug. 15 maiden race. She might be hard-pressed to stay another quarter-mile, especially with other speed in the field.

Laragh received a 76 Beyer Speed Figure for her front-running victory going seven furlongs on the Polytrack on Aug. 9. She is a half-sister to a turf debut winner.

C Karma hit the board in each of her four outings, all on the Poly, which included a troubled third-place finish in the Ontario Debutante Stakes.

Trainer Greg de Gannes was content with her recent work over the turf training course.

"She handled it quite well," de Gannes said.

Panther Strike, one of three maidens in the field, finished a nose behind Koonunga Hill in the Ice Water.