08/30/2005 11:00PM

Move north agrees with Demeteor


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Monday's Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap, with a purse of $300,000, is the most lucrative race on Woodbine's stakes-filled long weekend.

And one trainer with his eye on that prize is Nick Gonzalez, who will saddle Demeteor for the first time in the Grade 2 Niagara at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Demeteor, a Kentucky-bred 6-year-old, is owned by Kenneth Hoffman, who trained the gelding through the first 20 starts of his career. About a month ago, Hoffman sent Demeteor here to Gonzalez, a longtime friend and winter neighbor in the Ocala, Fla., area.

"He really seemed to flourish once he got up here in Canada, away from that hot and muggy weather he was in training in down there in Ocala," said Gonzalez.

"We did a blood [test] on him when he first came up here, and his blood was way down. That's why we just fiddled around with him for the first couple of weeks, and got him built up and everything, and you can really see the change in the horse daily."

Demeteor, freshened following a subpar effort in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Handicap at Fair Grounds in March, started twice at Calder this summer. After finishing a distant fourth at 1 1/16 miles on dirt in the Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap, Demeteor was third in the Mecke at 1 1/8 miles on good turf.

In his last start, the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap over 1 1/4 miles of good going, Demeteor was prominent early before faltering to finish seventh.

Gonzalez has been present for Demeteor's only two races beyond 1 1/4 miles, as he accompanied Hoffman on the trips down from Ocala. The first was the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Calder last Dec. 18. Demeteor finished second there, beaten a neck, and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

Two starts later, on March 6, Demeteor finished fifth but was beaten just three-quarters of a length in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf, with his Beyer coming back at 100.

"You can't train a horse to go a mile and a half," said Gonzalez. "They've either got to be able to run a mile and a half, or they can't. And he's already proven that he can.

"He's a natural stayer. He's got one of those long, loping strides, the kind that if you're going to run at a mile and a half a horse really has to have."

Emile Ramsammy has picked up the mount on Demeteor, who was assigned 111 pounds for the Niagara.

Extra Bases leads Casse trio in Colleen

Extra Bases came up with her best effort last time, rallying smartly to win a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf. Now Extra Bases will be looking for a bigger hit when she goes postward in Saturday's $147,000 Ontario Colleen Handicap, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies that attracted a full field of 14.

Extra Bases, a Florida-bred, is one of three Mark Casse-trained fillies in the Ontario Colleen, along with Higher World and Jeanne's Honor.

"I just think she has a real fondness for the turf," Casse said of Extra Bases. "The first time I ran her on the turf this year, she wasn't quite ready to run. Last time, she was much better prepared."

Extra Bases, who finished a troubled fifth here in the Natalma in her lone turf appearance at 2, ran third in her second trip over the course here on June 19, when she made her first start in almost three months.

"She's a nice filly, and she's doing very well," said Casse.

Higher World, winner of the Grade 2 Mazarine at 1 1/16 miles here last fall, will be making her turf debut in the Ontario Colleen.

A Kentucky-bred, Higher World seemed to have regained her best stride when she won a 1 1/16-mile race under second-level allowance terms here July 10. But in her last start, which came in the Grade 3 Duchess at seven furlongs, Higher World faltered to finish a well-beaten fifth.

"She didn't have any excuse at all," said Casse. "She went into that race absolutely 100 percent ready to go. She gave up a little easier than I would have liked for her to do.

"She's just the same horse she was last year," he said. "I don't think she's really matured and become a better horse."

Casse hopes the move to turf will prove a remedy.

"She's got breeding that says she should like the turf, and she's breezed okay on it," said Casse. "It's worth giving it a shot."

Jeanne's Honor, a Kentucky-bred, finished second to an older rival in her turf debut in a first-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs here July 9. That performance was enough to make Jeanne's Honor the favorite in the one-mile Colleen prep, where she finished fifth under jockey Patrick Husbands.

"She had run such a big race on the grass, and she's got a nice pedigree for the grass," said Casse. "I expected her to run really well last time, and just everything got screwed up that day.

"There was no pace in that race, and Patrick had to fight with her. We were out in lane six, and he said it was so narrow there were horses all the way across the track. I think she can come back and run a big race."