10/30/2002 12:00AM

Minshall thinks highly of Snake Pit


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Barbara Minshall is no stranger to good horses.

Minshall, who was introduced to the racing game by her late husband, owner/breeder Aubrey Minshall, took over as the Minshall Farm trainer in 1995 and enjoyed immediate success.

"I was very lucky to have horses like Kiridashi, Bold Ruritana, and Sea Wall when I first started training," said Minshall, referring to three horses who produced seven stakes wins in her rookie campaign.

"Your standard of what's good becomes quite high. I'm always looking for the 'good' horse - they have a different way about them.

"They have always had that look, had that attitude. I find it doesn't take them long to show themselves."

Minshall, who earned a Sovereign Award as Canada's outstanding trainer in 1996 after adding Stephanotis and Canadian horse of the year Mt. Sassafras to her stakes resume, believes she has another good horse in Snake Pit.

A homebred gelding by Kiridashi, Snake Pit goes for his second straight stakes score here in Saturday's $250,000 Coronation Futurity, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.

"I liked him right from day one," said Minshall, who put Snake Pit through his opening paces in Florida last winter before bringing him north with the rest of the string in April.

Snake Pit finished second in his 6 1/2-furlong debut here Aug. 8 and the winner of that race, Added Edge, remains undefeated and is a two-time stakes winner after three starts.

Ten days later, Snake Pit ran in the six-furlong Vandal and finished a distant second to Wando, who went on to win the Grey Stakes before finishing off the board in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

"I ran him back for his second start much quicker than I would normally have run a 2-year-old," said Minshall, "and I wouldn't have gone from 6 1/2 to six furlongs. But I was trying to get more Kiridashis to race before the sale."

Minshall Farm still owns an 80 percent interest in Kiridashi, who stands at nearby Park Stud and had 17 yearlings cataloged for the September sales here.

Once Snake Pit had done his duty in the Vandal, he was able to proceed more deliberately to the Oct. 9 Frost King, a seven-furlong Ontario Sire Stakes, which he won by 7 1/4 lengths as the front-runner.

And while he will be stretching out around two turns in the Coronation, Minshall has reason to believe Snake Pit's physique, pedigree, and style will play in his favor.

"He's a big, strong horse," said Minshall, "and he's related to all distance horses. He's got a lot of natural speed, but he doesn't need to be on the lead or anything. He's pretty ratable. He has a big stride. He's going to carry himself."

Nicely Nasty won't run Sunday

Nicely Nasty, another promising prospect in the Minshall barn, was nominated to Sunday's $150,000 Jammed Lovely but will not be in the lineup.

The Jammed Lovely, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, would have been Nicely Nasty's stakes debut and first start in almost three months.

"She's a nice filly; I like her a lot," said Minshall. "But she got hurt, and this race came up a little soon.

"I was a little worried about her condition, off such a long layoff."

Nicely Nasty, who made her first two career appearances in the final weeks of the 2001 meeting, came back running to win her maiden over six furlongs June 30 and doubled up impressively in a first-level allowance at the same distance in her last start on Aug. 8.

Where to send Hard Currency?

Minshall also is searching for a spot for Hard Currency, a 6-year-old horse who is a half-brother to Mt. Sassafras.

Hard Currency was away for more than a year after finishing last of 14 in the 2001 Atto Mile but finished a solid second when he returned in a seven-furlong classified allowance on the main track Sept. 14.

In a later start, competing under allowance conditions over seven furlongs on turf here Oct. 18, Hard Currency dueled for the lead before weakening slightly to finish fourth, beaten three lengths.

"I think maybe he got a little tired," said Minshall. "They went fast, and I don't think he's a sprinter anyways.

"He came back with a little bit of mucus, but he's in good order now. I'm not worried about his next start."

Hard Currency is nominated both the Labeeb, a $100,000 race for 3-year-olds and upward over one mile on turf here Sunday, and the Grade 3 Woodbine Slots Cup, a $150,000 race over 1 1/16 miles on the main track Nov. 9.

Lush Soldier to Mrs. Revere

Lush Soldier, who was among the nominees to the River Memories Stakes here Sunday, is slated to make her next appearance in the Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs Nov. 16.

The River Memories is a $100,000, one-mile turf race for fillies and mares, while the Mrs. Revere is a $150,000, 1 1/16-mile turf race restricted to 3-year-old fillies and is a Grade 2.

Lush Soldier, a Florida-bred owned by John Franks and based here with trainer David Bell, is coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Keeneland Oct. 12.

"She ran her eyeballs out," said Bell, who watched Lush Soldier press the pace on the outside and loom a strong contender turning for home before weakening slightly to wind up being beaten by 6 1/4 lengths in the highly competitive Queen Elizabeth.

"She never really got to relax and she fought her way to be third; she could easily have given up that spot."

The River Memories and the Labeeb are the last scheduled turf stakes of the meeting.