04/26/2005 11:00PM

Lemon Maid succeeds despite big class jump

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Lemon Maid wins the Star Shoot Stakes in only her second start.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - It's generally a quantum leap from maiden special weight to stakes company, but Lemon Maid made the move look routine here in last Sunday's six-furlong Star Shoot.

Adding to the accomplishment was the fact that Lemon Maid, a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly, recorded her maiden victory in her debut at Fair Grounds on Feb. 25 and was racing for only the second time in the Star Shoot.

"She sure stepped up the other day," said trainer Malcolm Pierce. "She looks great; everything seems good."

If all goes according to plan, Lemon Maid will be looking to continue her rapid ascent in the $250,000 Selene, a Grade 3 stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles here May 22.

"That would give her four weeks between races; she had eight weeks into this race," said Pierce. "And, I don't see any reason why she shouldn't stretch out. She has a nice big stride, and her pedigree seems to say that's what she'd like most. She should be comfortable going a mile and a sixteenth."

Lemon Maid races for the Live Oak Plantation of owner Charlotte Weber, who has High Fly on the Kentucky Derby trail with trainer Nick Zito.

Weber has several other Kentucky-bred runners here with Pierce, including Stone Cat, a stakes-placed 5-year-old horse; Elle Runaway, a 3-year-old filly who won twice and was second in her only other outing at Fair Grounds this winter; and Silver Charades, a maiden 3-year-old filly who finished an encouraging fourth in her debut at Fair Grounds.

Carlea injured before Star Shoot

Carlea, coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, might have provided Lemon Maid with an acid test in the Star Shoot but did not make it to the post.

"She was playing in her stall on the morning of the race and she wrapped herself behind, on a pastern," said Carlea's trainer, Josie Carroll. " She cut it a bit, it swelled up, and we had to put her on antibiotics.

"It was just bad timing. She was fine the next day, and was back training Tuesday. We'll just have to regroup."

Wholelottabourbon's options tricky

Simply Lovely, Canada's 2-year-old filly champion, was the second choice behind Lemon Maid but ended up fifth in her seasonal debut in the Star Shoot.

But her champion male counterpart, Wholelottabourbon, fared a lot better last Saturday, when he was a game winner of the six-furlong Woodstock in his first start this year.

Wholelottabourbon was the lone member of the six-horse Woodstock field that had wintered in Ontario.

After starting up Feb. 1 on the farm near Fort Erie, Ontario, Wholelottabourbon shipped into Woodbine when the backstretch opened at the end of that month.

"He was just about ready to breeze," said Nick Gonzalez, who trains Wholelottabourbon. "I galloped him a week, and then every work was getting better and better.

"His last three works, he was ready for his A-game. But, I was still concerned whether he was fit enough first time out."

The Woodstock, an open race, had been a long-term target for Wholelottabourbon, who is Kentucky-bred but Ontario-sired.

But the going gets trickier now for the gelding, who spent most of last season based at Fort Erie and returned there after his Woodstock win.

The Bold Ruckus, the next race here for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds, goes June 15 at six furlongs on turf, a surface on which Wholelottabourbon has yet to run.

Wholelottabourbon has been nominated to the $125,000 New Providence, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up here May 14, but Gonzalez is not keen on running him against older horses.

The $150,000 Marine on May 21 is the next open race here for 3-year-olds. But Gonzalez also is skeptical about sending Wholelottabourbon around two turns for the first time in only his second start of the year, against potentially tough Grade 3 company.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do with him," said Gonzalez, who also is examining options south of the border.

Tharrenos saddles first winner

It didn't take long for Bill Tharrenos, a longtime owner who also paid his dues on the backstretch, to get his first victory as a licensed trainer.

Tharrenos broke the ice with his second starter, Talk to Me Baby, who was up in time in the fifth race here last Sunday.

"It's a great feeling," said Tharrenos, 42, who also has interests in the automobile business.

Tharrenos took out his trainer's license last June but did not saddle his first starter until opening day here.

"I had to prepare," said Tharrenos, who has four stalls here and about 20 other horses in training on nearby farms.

"I have some promising 2-year-olds, but time will tell," he said. "Right now, we're doing the best with what we have."

Talk to Me Baby is owned by Six Brothers Stable. Other Tharrenos clients include Mike Coll, G T Heat Stable, and Gardiner Farm.

Jockey Wilson starts fast

Emma Wilson rode her first winner as a five-pound apprentice aboard Talk to Me Baby.

Wilson, 23, had packed up her tack after her fourth winner here late last September, in order to make full use of her apprentice allowance for this season.

After missing the first three days of the meeting due to a suspension carried over from last year, Wilson won with her second mount, Bold Clover, in Sunday's second race.

Wilson, who is represented by agent Mike Luider, also had a second and a third to go with her two victories and rode in seven of the day's nine races.

Wilson was named in six of the nine races on the first Friday program of the year. Her mounts include Bill Dandy in the feature race, for $40,000 claimers.