04/12/2006 11:00PM

Millfleet starts year off in Cartier

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mike DePaulo has a new stakes horse under his wing this year.

Joining the DePaulo barn over the winter was Millfleet, a 5-year-old gelding who was formerly trained by Hugo Dittfach and who will make his season debut in Saturday's six-furlong, $125,000 Jacques Cartier at Woodbine.

Millfleet won back-to-back Ontario-sired stakes in 2004, taking the Deputy Minister at seven furlongs and the Bunty Lawless over one mile on turf. His only win in 12 starts last year came in a third-level allowance Dec. 1, his final outing of the season.

"He wintered here in Ontario, and he's training well," said DePaulo. "But six furlongs is a little ways to go right off the shelf. Long-term, he'll specialize in Ontario-sired races. He still has a condition, too - four-other-than maiden or claiming."

The first Ontario-sired stakes of the season will be the $125,000 New Providence, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward here May 13.

Steve Bahen, who rode Millfleet for the first time Dec. 1, will ride again in the Jacques Cartier.

No Whimsical for Kissed By a Prince

DePaulo also had a nominee for Sunday's feature, with Kissed By a Prince on the list for the Grade 3, $125,000 Whimsical for fillies and mares, but Kissed By a Prince will not be in the lineup.

"She's not really a sprinter," said DePaulo. "She's doing well, but she's 6 now. This will probably be her last year. I'd like to get her over the half-million mark and get her a little more black type."

Kissed By a Prince, who is Ontario-sired, has won three stakes and placed in four others, with career earnings of $432,478 in 21 starts.

DePaulo said Kissed By a Prince's main target for the year is the $125,000 Algoma, a 1 1/16-mile yearling sales stakes for fillies and mares here Sept. 4. Kissed By a Prince finished second in last year's Algoma, beaten a head by One for Rose, the now-retired three-time Canadian champion older mare.

The Whimsical drew 15 entries, including one also-eligible.

DePaulo gearing two up for Plate

In the meantime, DePaulo has a legitimate pair of candidates for the $1 million Queen's Plate on June 25 - Bad Hat and Shillelagh Slew.

Neither horse has seen action this year. Bad Hat was 3 for 3 last year, including wins in the seven-furlong Frost King and 1 1/16-mile Kingarvie. All of Bad Hat's starts came in Ontario-sired company. Shillelagh Slew started four times, winning his maiden over seven furlongs and finishing third in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity for Canadian-breds.

"They both wintered in Ocala," said DePaulo. "They're both training forwardly. They're in real good shape. With the time off, they're just begging to run. They're just waiting for the right spot."

It doesn't appear that spot will be next Saturday's $125,000 Woodstock, since neither Bad Hat nor Shillelagh Slew was nominated for that race. The Woodstock, run at six furlongs, is the first stakes race that acts as a stepping-stone to the Queen's Plate.

"I decided not to nominate Bad Hat," said DePaulo. "I didn't want to be tempted. He'll probably run in the Queenston. And Shillelagh Slew, I'm not going to run him six furlongs."

The $125,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds, will be run here May 6. Shillelagh Slew is a Quebec-bred and is therefore ineligible.

Debut of two-furlong races

Woodbine will be offering two-furlong races for the first time in its 50-year history here this weekend, with a maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds on bothe Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday's race drew eight fillies, and Sunday's race drew seven colts and geldings. Each race offers a purse of $60,000 (Canadian). By comparison, a two-furlong maiden special for 2-year-olds at Santa Anita offers a purse of $36,000, and the 4 1/2-furlong maiden special for 2-year-olds that opened the Keeneland meeting offered a purse of $50,000.

"I think the response has been good," said Steve Lym, Woodbine's racing secretary. "It's something people started talking about right away."

Lym said he plans to offer three of the two-furlong races for each sex, with the last of those races coming in late May.

Individual license fees raised

The Ontario Racing Commission has announced an increase in individual license fees, effective July 1. The increases, the first since 2003, range from $5 for grooms, hot walkers, and exercise riders - each of whom will now pay $20 - to $50 for stables, which will now pay $200.

Jockey licenses will increase by $30, to $130, and owner and trainer licenses will increase by $75, to $100.

There also will be a new one-time charge of $20 for new applicants to cover the costs for background checks.

The ORC, facing a budget shortfall of $2 million, hopes to raise $500,000 through the increased individual fees and the remainder through increased licensing fees to racetracks.