09/14/2004 11:00PM

Mona Rose gears up for Canadian 'Cap

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Mona Rose, winning the Dance Smartly, will try for another stakes victory in Sunday's Canadian Handicap.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $1 million Atto Mile won't be the only race worth winning here Sunday, with both the Canadian Handicap and Summer Stakes offering Grade 2 status and $250,000.

While the spotlight was on Atto Mile contender Perfect Soul and his work over the turf course here Wednesday morning, Mona Rose also took advantage of the special training session to prep for the Canadian.

With her regular rider, Eurico da Silva, in the irons, Mona Rose breezed four furlongs in 47.20 seconds.

"It was a nice breeze and she galloped out a strong five-eighths in 58 and change," said Earl Barnett, who trains Mona Rose for owner-breeders Paul and Frank O'Brien. "She's in good shape right now. I'm expecting her to be on her game Sunday."

Mona Rose will seek her second stakes score in the Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares. Mona Rose upset odds-on favorite Inish Glora at the same distance in the Grade 3 Dance Smartly here July 17, running her record to 3 for 3 on the year.

A 4-year-old, Mona Rose subsequently appeared at Saratoga in the Aug. 30 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap, where she finished fifth at 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf.

Barnett and the O'Briens, however, were far from dismayed by the experience.

"She was very professional," said Barnett. "She acted like she'd shipped all her life. The only problem she had was with the seven-eighths of a mile inner turf course; she'd never been around tight turns like that."

Barnett also noted that Mona Rose was racing with the same type of bit that she uses at Woodbine, and that a different version might have given her new rider, Jorge Chavez, more control.

"Chavez did the best he could," said Barnett. "She was four or five wide on both turns. He wanted to get her back, but she was running her own race with him."

Heyahohowdy breezes on turf

Heyahohowdy, also a candidate for the Canadian, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 on the turf training course here Wednesday.

Jockey Ray Sabourin was aboard for the drill, which came with the dogs well out and on turf rated firm.

"She came back really good," said Abraham Katryan, who trains Heyahohowdy for Kelynack Racing Stable. "There's a good possibility she'll run Sunday, but she has other options."

Heyahohowdy has started five times this year, all on turf, winning the six-furlong Zadracarta and running second to Inish Glora in the 1 1/16-mile Victoriana.

Stag Nation has drill for Summer

Stag Nation tuned up for the Summer Stakes with a four-furlong drill in 47.80 seconds under Schemlin Montoute on the turf training course Wednesday.

Owned by Class Action Stable and trained by Danny Vella, Stag Nation will seek his second straight turf win in the one-mile Summer after winning his maiden at seven furlongs here Aug. 22.

Blonde Executive tunes up

Blonde Executive worked six furlongs in 1:13.20 on the training track here Wednesday with regular rider Richard Dos Ramos in the irons.

"She's very good right now," said Radlie Loney, who trains Blonde Executive for her owner and breeder, Bruno Brothers Farm.

A winner of three stakes this year, Blonde Executive is slated to make her next appearance here Sept. 26 in the $125,000 La Prevoyante, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

Blonde Executive won her only turf start, taking the seven-furlong Passing Mood over yielding going here July 28, then won the Grade 3 Duchess at seven furlongs on the main track.

"Since she ran that first race on the grass, she's completely changed," said Loney. "She's learned to relax a lot more."

B.C. Derby hopefuls work

Strike Em Hard and Garret's Gulch both worked five furlongs Wednesday and are slated to ship out next Thursday for the Sept. 26 British Columbia Derby at Hastings.

The B.C. Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $250,000.

Strike Em Hard, owned by trainer Dave Cotey and partners, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 on the main track under Constant Montpellier.

Garret's Gulch, who was purchased privately at Saratoga by K.K. Sangara and shipped here to trainer Lorne Richards, prepped on the training track with five furlongs in 1:01.

Large fields on Friday card

There was a rush to the entry box here Wednesday as 111 horses, including also-eligibles and main-track-only entrants for turf races, were on the overnight for Friday's 10-race program.

The day's feature race, which goes as the ninth, is a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and upward at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Mystic Dash and Northtobaghdad, the two-three finishers under similar terms at 1 1/8 miles on the grass here last time out, are among the most likely candidates should the race go as scheduled.

Eight horses make up the main body of the field, with two also-eligibles and one for the main track only.