05/19/2005 11:00PM

Lemon Maid has the genes to get distance


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The talented Lemon Maid will go 1 1/16 miles for the first time on Sunday, and she will do it against a quality group of 3-year-old fillies in the $271,500 Selene Stakes at Woodbine.

has had two career races, both at six furlongs. She won by 3 3/4 lengths both times, earning identical Beyer Speed Figures of 91. She won her debut at the Fair Grounds and then took the April 24 Star Shoot Stakes at Woodbine over a sloppy track here off a two-month layoff.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce said Lemon Maid really blossomed over the winter.

"She was sent here to me in September or October, but she wasn't near ready to run," Pierce recalled. "We took our time with her and took her to New Orleans with us. We started breezing her down there, and everything came together. She worked fast and did everything right."

Pierce is optimistic that Lemon Maid, a daughter of Belmont and Travers winner Lemon Drop Kid, will handle a route of ground. "She's got a lovely stride, and her pedigree says she that should stretch out," he said.

The other main contenders in the Grade 3 Selene are Carlea and Gold Strike.

Carlea has not run since her second-place finish over a speed-favoring track in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 12. She was previously second in the one-mile Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn, which came after back-to-back victories at six furlongs in maiden and allowance company at the Fair Grounds.

Trainer Josie Carroll believes the addition of blinkers was instrumental in Carlea's remarkable progress over the winter.

"She won her first two starts at the Fair Grounds with blinkers, which focused her a little bit," Carroll said. "I stretched her out at Oaklawn, and she was second to Isabell's Shoes. She stalked Summerly all the way in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Runway Model tried to make a run at us, but my filly maintained her position and just couldn't close on Summerly."

Summerly subsequently captured the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, in which Runway Model finished sixth.

Carroll said a minor injury forced Carlea to be scratched from the Star Shoot.

"She was playing around in her stall and rapped the back of her ankle," Carroll recalled. "She cut it, and it blew up."

The Star Shoot runner-up, Gold Strike, is prepping for the June 12 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, according to trainer Reade Baker, who has much admiration for her.

"She does anything you want," Baker said. "She's a good-mannered filly, with a lovely, flowing stride."