07/14/2004 11:00PM

La Trillium wins like star in making

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - If good things come to those who wait, owner Percy Harcourt and trainer Paul Nielsen have plenty to look forward to with La Trillium.

Bred by Harcourt in Kentucky and racing for his Jasmine Stable, La Trillium recorded her second win in as many starts here Wednesday evening.

La Trillium, who is by Deputy Commander out of the Seattle Slew mare Tenacite, is a 4-year-old but did not make her first appearance until June 19.

"She wasn't broke until she was 3," said Nielsen. "She was a very, very big filly, and we decided to give her as much time as she needed."

La Trillium finally got down to business at Payson Park in the winter of 2003 and was with Nielsen's string at Fort Erie last year.

"Her first few breezes, I thought she showed a lot of talent," said Nielsen. "But every step we took forward, we'd take two back. She had her soundness issues."

Following another winter at Payson Park, La Trillium returned to Ontario.

"When we brought her back up, she sort of turned the corner," said Nielsen. "When she ran the first time, I expected her to run well, but I didn't expect her to run as well as she did."

La Trillium did everything right here in her seven-furlong debut, settling off the pace in the maiden special before taking control for an 11 1/2-length score under jockey Slade Callaghan and earning an eye-catching Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

After deciding against trying La Trillium against males or on turf, Nielsen elected to run her back in what appeared to be an easy $25,000 optional claiming race for first-level fillies and mares at seven furlongs Wednesday.

"She lacks experience, lacks seasoning," said Nielsen. "I thought it would be a decent spot to bring her along to the next step."

La Trillium got more than she bargained for in the race. She appeared to be drawing off turning for home, but Elusive A.C. slipped through to her inside and quickly opened a clear lead.

"She broke well, and everything was going well on the turn," said Nielsen. "But when the other horse snuck up the inside I don't think she saw her, or Slade saw her."

La Trillium rallied to salvage the victory by three-quarters of a length as the 2-5 favorite and earned a 92 Beyer.

"I think she showed a lot of determination," said Nielsen. "We galloped her out real good, and she's bred to go two turns. But I'm going to be very careful with her. She has a lot of issues."

Strait from Texas returns from injury

Strait From Texas has followed a similar program for the last three years, spending the winter at Tampa Bay Downs, where she is trained by her owner, James Michael, and then returning to Woodbine, where she is trained by Paul Buttigieg.

But her schedule got out of whack this spring, when she wrenched an ankle in her final workout for the June 5 Nassau Stakes.

"We X-rayed her, and she was fine," said Buttigieg, who sent out Strait From Texas to win last year's Nassau, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares. "We had to give her some time off. She had a nice rest."

Strait From Texas will be making her first start in more than four months in Saturday's Dance Smartly over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

"It is a concern, no question," said Buttigieg of the layoff. "But, I expect her to run real good. She's training good and feeling good."

Woodbine turf next for Bowman Mill

Trainer Michael Dickinson, who entered Dynalympic here in Saturday's Toronto Cup, is eyeing the July 25 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes with Bowman Mill.

The Chinese Cultural Centre, a 1 3/8-mile turf race, offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $300,000.

Bowman Mill, 6, is no stranger to Woodbine, having shipped here on three consecutive occasions last year to compete on the turf.

Those trips resulted in a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Niagara at 1 1/2 miles; a victory in the Grade 2 Sky Classic at 1 3/8 miles; and a fourth in the Grade 1 Canadian International at 1 1/2 miles.

The Sky Classic was run on soft turf, and the International in yielding going.

Bowman Mill has seen action just twice this year and finished last of 11 in his latest appearance, which came in Monmouth's Grade 1 United Nations Handicap over 1 3/8 miles of firm turf July 3.

Regal n' Bold invades New York

Regal n' Bold, a 4-year-old trained by Reade Baker, has been entered in Saturday's $50,000 Proud Puppy Handicap, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares at Finger Lakes in New York.

Rui Pimentel will ride Regal n' Bold, who turned in the best effort of her career last time out, when she was second to Brass in Pocket in the six-furlong Ballade for Ontario-sired fillies and mares here June 30.

Race office has entry slip-up

A mistake here Wednesday night caused Explosive Revival to run for purse money only in the sixth race.

A 4-year-old gelding trained by Bruce Alexander, Explosive Revival had been entered for the race Monday, but the entry slip somehow became misplaced by the Woodbine race office and was not included in the draw.

An Ontario Racing Commission rule clearly states that a horse can be added to the field but must run for purse money only under such circumstances.

As it turns out, Explosive Revival was not much of a factor and finished last in the field of seven.