06/25/2003 11:00PM

Loaded barn lets Baker pick spots


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Reade Baker has a trio of talented Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies in his stable this year, and keeping them apart is not always an easy task.

But Baker has laid out a game plan that will maximize the opportunities for all concerned in the weeks ahead, beginning with Elusive Thought's appearance in the Ontario Damsel Stakes here Sunday.

Elusive Thought is one of three nominees, along with Regal n' Bold and Nystar, from Baker's barn. The Damsel is a 6 1/2-furlong turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Bred by Baker and owned by the trainer in partnership with his wife, Janis Maine, Elusive Thought became a stakes winner in the seven-furlong Fury here May 4.

Elusive Thought had been under consideration for the June 8 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, but Baker abandoned that quest after watching her finish third in a six-furlong allowance race May 18.

Although the Damsel will be her first start on the grass, Elusive Thought went well when exposed to the surface for the first time here last Friday, drilling six furlongs in 1:13.60 on the turf training track.

"I've always wanted to try her on the turf," said Baker, noting that Elusive Thought's sire, Elusive Quality, set the world record for a mile on turf when he won Belmont's 1998 Poker in 1:31.63, and that her dam, Closerthanuthink, is by the good turf sire Ascot Knight.

Baker also believes that the Damsel distance and current nature of the E.P. Taylor course make the race a reasonable venture for Elusive Thought.

"She likes to be freewheeling, close to the lead, and the speed's been holding on the turf this year," said Baker.

Regal n' Bold is slated to make her next appearance in the $125,000 Passing Mood, a seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies here July 16.

Owned by George Farr, Regal n' Bold has won 4 of 7 outings, with all of her successes coming on the main track over five or six furlongs. The Passing Mood will be her turf debut.

"She's got turf in her pedigree," said Baker. "We wanted to go there, and then into the Eternal Search. We couldn't go in the Ontario Damsel, too."

The Eternal Search, also for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, is a 1 1/16-mile race here July 30.

Nystar's goal is a little more distant, as Baker is eyeing the $125,000 Rainbow Connection, a five-furlong turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward at Fort Erie July 19.

"It's against older horses," said Baker, "but she really likes to go five-eighths and for that much money, you've got to go and give them a shot."

Owned by Lloyd Simpson and Jai Narinesingh, Nystar has started six times, all in main-track sprints, with her two wins coming over five and 5 1/2 furlongs.

Hour of Justice out of luck

In the meantime, Baker is having trouble finding a spot of any sort for Hour of Justice, another 3-year-old filly, whose opportunities here are limited due to her being Kentucky-bred.

Hour of Justice, owned by Stronach Stables Inc., has been successful in three of her four career outings, including the Alywow over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf here May 31.

Baker had entered Hour of Justice in a third-level allowance to be run here Saturday, but that race failed to fill on Wednesday morning and was not used after being listed as a "carryover" for Sunday's card.

Thank You Sir invades Fort Erie

While Baker will be here Sunday, he also will be keeping an eye on the proceedings at Fort Erie, where Thank You Sir will see action in the 1 1/16-mile Harry Addison Stakes.

The $75,000 Addison is restricted to colts and geldings, 3 and up, who went through the ring in either the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's 2-year-olds in training sale or the Canadian Breeders Sales autumn yearling sale here at Woodbine.

Thank You Sir, a 5-year-old owned by Simpson and Narinesingh, finished second in the 2001 edition of the Addison, when the race was run at Woodbine.

Baker also plans to be represented at Fort Erie on Tuesday, when Miss Alexis is slated to make her seasonal debut in the $60,000 Centre Stage Anne.

The Centre Stage Anne, a six-furlong race for Canadian-bred fillies and mares, is one of the supporting features on the Canada Day card headed by the Labatt Bison City Stakes.

Miss Alexis, owned by Baker in partnership with Derek Cornelius, last saw action Nov. 11 at Fort Erie, winning a six-furlong allowance race for nonwinners of four.

Wolverine works for comeback

Baker also is looking forward to the return of Wolverine, a 4-year-old colt.

Wolverine has not seen action since finishing fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial here in 2002, because he suffered a fractured cannon bone in a hind leg in his final workout for the Queen's Plate.

Judging by his recent workouts, the latest a six-furlong drill in 1:12.60 on the main track here last Monday, Wolverine is loaded for bear.

"It looks like we're in good shape," said Baker. "I think he'll make a nice Ontario-sired horse for the fall."