08/23/2004 12:00AM

Mazarine next target for South Bay Cove


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - South Bay Cove soared to the top of her class here at Woodbine on Sunday, taking the $175,750 Ontario Debutante in a highly professional fashion.

Although she was coming off a romping win over fellow Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies here in the 5 1/2-furlong Shady Well, South Bay Cove was facing a more difficult test as she moved into open company for the six-furlong Ontario Debutante.

"I thought she'd run well," said trainer Roger Attfield. "She was coming into this race in really good shape. She schooled well this week, and saddled better than she'd ever saddled Sunday."

South Bay Cove carried her relaxed demeanor into the Debutante itself, as she lay third off the early pace before coming on to take charge under jockey Todd Kabel.

Attfield has earmarked the Grade 2, $250,000 Mazarine, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies here Oct. 3, and the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies here Oct. 23, as fall targets for South Bay Cove.

"I think she's going to improve the farther she goes," said Attfield. "She certainly trains like she'd go two turns."

Despite the six-week gap to the Mazarine, Attfield does not anticipate running South Bay Cove before then.

"She's a 2-year-old who's already run four times," said Attfield. "She's got the experience, and confidence in herself. She's a very slight filly; you don't have to put a whole lot of racing into her."

South Bay Cove's dam, Fantasy Lake, counted the Mazarine among her successes when she was Canada's champion 2-year-old filly for Attfield and Graham in 1998.

Blonde Executive passes class test

Blonde Executive also appeared to be getting an acid test here in Saturday's $206,150 Duchess, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

Blonde Executive, trained by Radlie Loney, had won three stakes, all against Ontario-sired horses.

The Duchess, a Grade 3, represented Blonde Executive's first venture into open stakes company, and Blonde Executive, while seeking her third straight win, was the 2-1 third choice in the field of five.

Blonde Executive was equal to the task, however. Not only did she win in wire-to-wire fashion, but Blonde Executive gained plenty of admirers as she turned back no less than three separate challenges before prevailing by a neck.

"She never had a chance to get a breather," said Loney, who now has sent out Blonde Executive to win 7 of 12 starts and $531,241.

"I knew, if they were going to run with her, she wouldn't let them go by her. She's like that - she gets her ears down, and her game face on. She loves the competition."

Loney is looking at the $125,000 La Prevoyante, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies here Sept. 26, as a possible spot for Blonde Executive. Farther down the road is the Nov. 14 Jammed Lovely, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies here Nov. 14.

Refuse to Bend runs like Euro namesake

The Izvestia Stakes, Saturday's $104,000 supporting feature, produced a highly unlikely hero in Refuse to Bend.

The knocks were legion against Refuse to Bend heading into the Izvestia, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds and upward.

Refuse to Bend, an Ontario-bred 3-year-old gelding, was facing older rivals while coming off a third-place finish at seven furlongs in which he was tagged for $75,000.

In his only previous start at 1 1/16 miles, in a first-level allowance race here June 6, Refuse to Bend had attended the early pace before faltering to finish ninth, beaten 12 1/4 lengths.

Last Saturday, however, Refuse to Bend seemed closer in spirit to his Irish-bred namesake - who is a multiple Grade 1 winner in England, Ireland, and France - than to his erstwhile persona here.

With Jim McKnight in the irons, Refuse to Bend rallied smartly for a half-length score and returned $69.80, by far the longest stakes-winning payoff at the meeting.

"The races haven't been going for him," said Mike Doyle, who trains Refuse to Bend. "Running him here was more like out of desperation. He was training so good, I wanted to run him somewhere."

Doyle also acknowledged that he had high hopes for Refuse to Bend earlier this year.

"I thought he might be a [Queen's] Plate horse," said Doyle.

Refuse to Bend has been nominated to both the Elgin and Halton, two of the six $125,000 yearling sales stakes here Sept. 5.

Refuse to Bend did not sell at auction, but did go through the ring at the local opening yearling sales and thus is eligible for the stakes.

Niigon preps for Pennsylvania Derby

Trainer Eric Coatrieux reported that Niigon worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 at his Chiefswood Farm base Monday morning and is scheduled to make his next appearance in the $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 6.

Robert Landry, Niigon's regular rider, was aboard for the drill and has the call for the Pennsylvania Derby.