04/18/2006 11:00PM

Meet's first two stakes go to usual suspects

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Judiths Wild Rush, winning the Cartier, will point to the April 29 Vigil.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Reade Baker was the top stakes-winning trainer here at last year's Woodbine meeting with 10 victories. Josie Carroll saddled eight stakes winners, tying her for second with Sid Attard.

It should have come as no surprise, then, that Baker and Carroll were front and center here last weekend, splitting the first two stakes of the meeting.

Baker got the ball rolling by sending out Judiths Wild Rush, Canada's champion sprinter of 2005, to capture Saturday's $126,200 Jacques Cartier. High Volt Jolt, trained by Carroll, finished second.

Carroll countered Sunday with Abounding Truth, who won the Grade 3, $128,200 Whimsical. The Baker-trained Bosskiri faltered to ninth.

Judiths Wild Rush recorded his first victory in four starts this year. He was ridden by Jim McAleney, who rode nine of Baker's stakes winners and 11 in total last year.

After finishing third and fourth in two graded stakes at Gulfstream, Judiths Wild Rush finished third in the five-furlong Jacques Cartier prep here April 1 with McAleney aboard for the first time.

"It's tough for horses that have been running 6 1/2 furlongs or seven furlongs to try to come back at five-eighths," said Baker. "But I had to work him or run him. I thought he'd run better than he did. I didn't know if he'd win, but it was important for Jim to get used to him. He'd worked him a bunch of times in Florida, but riding a horse in a race is different. He came out with a ton of confidence."

Judiths Wild Rush is slated to make his next start here April 29 in the Grade 3, $150,000 Vigil, a seven-furlong race he won last year after being beaten a nose in the Jacques Cartier.

"He's run his best races off two weeks' rest," said Baker.

High Volt Jolt also is nominated to the Vigil, but he could await the Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse, a 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward here May 22.

"He's a trying racehorse," said Carroll. "He won at six furlongs last year, but I think he's going to be even better going long. He ran two great mile races in California."

Abounding Truth joined Carroll's stable after competing in California in November. A 6-year-old Florida-bred mare, Abounding Truth is owned by Joe Kowal, who races under Douglas Kent Racing. Kowal, born in Toronto, broke into the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres in 1976 and saw limited action over two seasons before retiring in 1981.

Carroll said she was contacted by Kowal about the prospect of racing Abounding Truth at Woodbine.

"He'd looked at our program and thought it would fit her," said Carroll. "I looked at her form and thought she would really suit up here."

Abounding Truth finished second when she made her season debut in the five-furlong Whimsical prep here April 2. Her victory in the Whimsical was her first in a graded stakes.

"She's a tremendously game filly," said Carroll. "Her grass form is good, too, so we do have some options with her."

Abounding Truth is slated to make her next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Hendrie, a 6 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares here May 14.

Her opponents there could include Gold Strike, a Baker-trained filly who was entered in the Whimsical but was a late scratch.

Gold Strike, Canada's champion 3-year-old filly last year, has not seen action since finishing third in the June 26 Queen's Plate and breezed five furlongs in 1:00 over the main track last Sunday.

"I thought the track was completely speed-biased and wouldn't be to her benefit," said Baker of his decision to pass the Whimsical with Gold Strike.

Two stakes contenders for Carroll

Carroll will send out solid contenders for both stakes races here this weekend, with Vibank set for Saturday's $125,000 Woodstock and Gumboots set for Sunday's $125,000 Star Shoot.

The Woodstock is a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and the Star Shoot a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

Baker trains four of the 16 nominees for the Woodstock - Atlas Shrugs, Bear Character, Holy Soul, and Hubbert's Peak - but only Atlas Shrugs will run. Claimed for $50,000 in his final start as a 2-year-old, Atlas Shrugs will be making his season debut in the Woodstock, which attracted a field of eight.

Bear Character will run at Keeneland in Saturday's Grade 2, $325,000 Lexington at 1 1/16 miles.

Hubbert's Peak, an impressive graduate in his season debut and first start for Baker, could make his stakes debut in the $150,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds here May 6.

Edenwold, who was Canada's champion 2-year-old last year for Carroll and owners Jim and Alice Sapara, returned from his winter at Santa Anita last weekend and worked five furlongs in a leisurely 1:03.80 here Wednesday morning.

Gumboots, another member of Carroll's California contingent, won the five-furlong prep for the Star Shoot in her season debut.

Baker also has a Star Shoot candidate in Vestrey Lady, who raced at Gulfstream and returned to finish second in a first-level allowance race here opening day.

Wilson gets bug extension

Because she did not ride during the winter hiatus, Emma-Jayne Wilson has been granted a 111-day extension of her apprentice allowance, which now will run through Saturday, Aug. 12.

Wilson, Woodbine's leading rider and the Eclipse Award and Sovereign Award-winning apprentice last year, had ridden seven winners through the first seven days of this meeting, one fewer than leading rider Patrick Husbands.