06/02/2003 11:00PM

Macdashi joins Woodbine Oaks fray

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Macdashi, a maiden trained by Franz Crean, has become the latest filly to be pointed to Sunday's $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

Macdashi's candidacy brings the probable field to 10 for the 48th running of the Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Owned by the Lucky Chance Stable of Willin Tin, Macdashi raced only once at 2, finishing second in a five-furlong maiden special here Oct. 20.

"She'd showed enough promise that we had the Oaks in mind," said Crean, "so we sent her to Florida for the winter.

"Unfortunately, since she got back from Florida we've had several setbacks. We've been unable to keep her in schedule. She never got an opportunity to run in the Selene."

The Grade 1 Selene, a 1 1/16-mile race here May 19, was supposed to have been Macdashi's major prep for the Oaks. Instead, the filly heads into Sunday's race off a second-place finish in a maiden special over 1 1/16 miles on a muddy track May 11.

That start, Macdashi's third of the year, followed a closing fourth-place finish at six furlongs in her 2003 debut and a rallying third, beaten a half-length, in the seven-furlong Lady Angela for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

Macdashi ran with blinkers for the first time and dueled for the lead throughout her last start, but Crean will remove the blinkers for the Oaks.

"She got very upset and irritated in the gate," said Crean. "She's normally a very, very laid-back filly. I was trying to get her a little more interested. Now that we're going a mile and an eighth, we don't want to be up front."

Macdashi will be attempting to become the first maiden to win the Oaks. She also will have a new rider in Simon Husbands.

The other probables for the Oaks, with jockeys, are: Appleby Gardens (Patrick Husbands), Brattothecore (Jake Barton), Buffalo Jump (Jim McAleney), Deputy Cures Blues (Steven Bahen), Kissed By a Prince (Dino Luciani), Mountain Dawn (David Clark), Santerra (Constant Montpellier), Seeking the Ring (Todd Kabel), and Too Late Now (Robert Landry).

El Ruller sold

El Ruller would have been one of the horses to beat in Sunday's 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park after having finished second to Queen's Plate contender Wando in the 1 1/16-mile Marine here last time out. Instead, the 3-year-old El Ruller has been sold to American interests and won't run in the Victoria Park. El Ruller left Woodbine last weekend and now is at Churchill Downs with trainer Tom Amoss.

El Ruller is a Florida-bred, and many of the lucrative stakes for 3-year-olds here are for Canadian-breds.

"There were very limited opportunities here," said trainer Arthur Silvera, who co-owned El Ruller. "They'll do very, very well with him. He's a sound horse, and he's pretty versatile."

El Ruller was purchased as a yearling for $5,500 by trainer Laurie Silvera, father of Arthur Silvera, and has earned $167,303.

Arthur Silvera declined to reveal the purchase price but said the sale brought "a very handsome price."

Strait to the Dance Smartly

She may be named Strait From Texas, but she's very much at home here at Woodbine.

Strait From Texas, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old owned by James Michael, celebrated her return to Woodbine and trainer Paul Buttigieg with an upset victory here in Sunday's Nassau.

Since finishing second here Nov. 3 in the River Memories, Strait From Texas had started five times in Florida with her owner, Michael, as the trainer and once at Churchill for trainer George Maker.

Buttigieg had his eye on the Grade 2, $296,700 Nassau on turf from the moment Strait From Texas checked in about a month ago.

"Last fall, she was starting to get stronger and stronger," said Buttigieg. "I knew she would be better as an older horse.

"I don't really know how good this filly is. I don't think she's really come to her top level yet."

Strait From Texas is scheduled to make her next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race here July 5.

Buttigieg believes the five-week gap to the Dance Smartly will suit Strait From Texas just fine.

"It's perfect," said Buttigieg. "She needs time between her races. She puts everything she's got into them."

The Nassau was Buttigieg's first win this year.

Jockey Richard Dos Ramos, who rode Strait From Texas for the first time after being introduced to the filly during a workout here May 23, gained his first stakes win of the year.

Change: Live racing on Canada Day

The Ontario Racing Commission has approved Woodbine's request to add Tuesday, July 1, and drop Thursday, June 26, from this year's schedule.

Woodbine had scheduled racing for Monday, June 30, but originally had not asked for a live Thoroughbred date on July 1, Canada Day, which is a statutory holiday.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Dominion Day Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward, had been scheduled for June 30 but now will be run July 1.

- Illusive Force, a Canadian-bred who will be using the open Victoria Park as his final stepping-stone to the June 22 Plate, worked a strong six furlongs in 1:12 under jockey Gerry Olguin here Tuesday. The gelding's Alberta-based regular rider Dave Wilson has the call for the Victoria Park.